Digital Sizzle co-founder Bryce Keane on BBQs, beards and Brainient

BeardsToday The Wall met Aussie gent Bryce Keane over a morning caffeine shot. Keane is a director at PR and social agency Albion Drive, and a founder of 3beards – a group of facial hair-heavy chaps who organise start-up community events including Silicon Drinkabout (now present in nine cities around the world) and Digital Sizzle. The barbecue, booze and business mash-ups began three years ago, and have gone from hosting 100 revellers to more than 1,000.

Ahead of the next event this Saturday (17 May) at new Shoreditch venue Second Home (so cool and new it doesn’t even open until October 2014 – 3beards have hijacked it and are transforming into a ‘Beards in Wonderland’ experience), Keane tells us why it’s time to re-connect the big creative agencies with innovative start-ups.

I met the other guys in 3beards randomly at a networking event. We set up Digital Sizzle as a barbecue in the park to bring together creative agencies with tech start-ups. The first event was supposed to be 20 people, byob, and we had 120 sign up.

As we grew, we focused down the start-up route, but now we want to bring the agencies back. What’s been true the whole time we’ve been doing these events is that agencies have clients that need innovation. These start-ups have innovation but lack clients, and we help to foster that collaboration. We’re making a conscience effort to bring the agencies back in and show that there is room for everyone in this community.

The Collider acceleration programme is a great example of brands sharing expertise with tech start-ups to help them thrive. We always get the questions from people who say they’ve been working at X agency for a number of years, and want to know how they can help or get involved in a start-up. We also often hear ‘I work with a number of global brand name clients and all of them are searching for innovation, have you chaps come across any start-ups disrupting X part of the marketing services industry?’

Your skill sets as a creative agency person are incredibly valuable. Spending even a small part of your time mentoring or giving back to the start-up community will go a long way. It will also help you spot interesting or disruptive technologies ahead of your competition and be able to test and implement meaningful tech innovation for your clients much faster than your competitors.

Signkick is an incredible start-up. It allows any small business to do hyper-local targeted outdoor advertising (down to the billboard or bus stop) for a fraction of the cost of using a traditional media agency. This becomes particularly interesting for agencies wanting to target different parts/buildings/people in London with different messages.

Any agency that creates online video advertising should pay close attention Brainient. It has now locked down most of the commercial TV stations in the UK for interactive online advertising. Interactive online video advertising is an amazing area which every digital advertising agency should already know about, but if you want your ads to appear on the websites and players for Channel 4, 5 or ITV you’ll probably need to start using the Brianient platform pretty soon.

Digital Sizzle’s Beards in Wonderland is happening on 17 May from 8pm – 1am at Second Home. Agencies can use ‘AgencySpecial’ promo code to get a discount.