Q&A with Scott Stedman: Northside Festival Adds the Entrepreneur

| May 23, 2012 4:00 AM video

Scott Stedman, co-founder of the Northside Media Group, at the Northside Festival in 2011. Photo courtesy of Northside Festival.

The Northside Festival is pleased to offer MetroFocus readers a 25 percent discount on admission to the Entrepreneurship Festival. Visit the Northside website to purchase tickets, and enter this code: WNET (case sensitive). The deal ends June 8.

 

When Scott Stedman first considered a festival on the city’s new technological and cultural innovation economy,  in partnership with the annual Northside music and film fest, he didn’t know he was on to something so big.

“We started working on this before the tech campus in Downtown Brooklyn and before the tech campus on Roosevelt Island,” said Stedman, who is co-founder of the publishing group Northside Media, which counts Brooklyn Magazine and The L Magazine among its titles. “It went from something we felt was happening, to a tidal wave.”

Northside, which takes place every June  at venues in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has become a staple in the city’s music festival line-up in just four years, attracting some 80,000 attendees.  Stedman hopes to achieve the same thing with the Entrepreneurship Festival.

Stedman spoke with MetroFocus about innovation in New York City, and the idea that Brooklyn has become an adjective for what’s fresh in culture, food, technology and everything in between. Check out the full schedule, which was just released.

Q: Why are you doing this now?

A: For the first time, New York City is emerging as an epicenter for innovation. We’ve been feeling it and talking about it internally and all of a sudden a light bulb popped on. It’s a new entrepreneurial economy and it’s as social, compelling and young as starting a band or writing a film. The tech community has become a fundamental part of the innovative community in New York and Brooklyn.

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The HÜB at Northside (149 Kent Avenue) will be a gathering place and a focal point of the entire Northside Festival.  In addition to interactive demonstrations of products here, visitors will be encouraged to interact with an inflatable structure, which will be “wrapped with projections.”

Q: What is the connection between art and culture and technology?

A: We believe innovation is the creative process that is driving the new economy and we’re trying to capture the city’s innovative spirit. At the Entrepreneurship Festival, we are also holding the Music Now Summit and the Social Cinema.

Q. The music industry is struggling to figure out how to monetize. Will this be addressed?

Both events will introduce attendees to business models and innovative solutions for the respective communities. The music industry is evolving and changing, and people will hear about new models of distribution and ways bands can become more like brands. The processes around creativity are changing. We’re trying to answer questions like “how do you remain vital?”

Q: So is this about technology as it relates to culture, or about technology in general?

A: The term is innovation, not technology. We’re trying to capture the city’s innovative spirit, and are not just focusing on high tech, though that’s a big part of it. Kellan Elliot-McCrea from Etsy is a panelist, but so is Steve Hindy of Brooklyn Brewery. All of this is showing people what’s next and what to expect.

Q: You’re also teaming up with NYU, Polytechnic Institute of New York University and the newly announced Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in Downtown Brooklyn for “The Startup Campus.”

A: The Startup Campus discussion series will take today’s business leaders and pair them with disruptive entrepreneurs changing the communities they work in. The discussions will be moderated by an NYU professor.

Q: Tell me about the HÜB. Is there a metaphor at work here?

A: (Chuckles.) The HÜB is like a town square for the conference. The whole thing we’re trying to push is the idea of looking up and experiencing. From live programming and meeting people, the idea is it’s all around social interaction. We have to engage with innovation with our eyes wide open.

Q: Who do you expect will attend?

A: If you’re over 40, and you mention “entrepreneurs,” people think it’s nothing exciting and new. But it is what’s next. It’s why we’ve added to the Northside Festival. It’s for anyone interested in innovation or who aspires to be an innovator. It’s the Wild West out there.

Q: So this aspect of Northside will be informative, not just entertaining.

A: We really want this to be fun, but in order to pull it off, there have to be multiple “a-ha” moments and people need to be better off professionally when they leave.

Q: “Northside” refers to the Northside of Brooklyn. Is this a Brooklyn-centric fest?

A: This is a New York City event. Many companies are based in New York, but the spirit is identified with Brooklyn, the adjective. New York innovators are impacted by what Brooklyn has become.

This interview was conducted by Multimedia Web Editor Georgia Kral. It has been edited and condensed.

The Northside Festival runs from June 14-21. The Entrepreneurship Festival is June 14 and 15.

For more technology news, watch “MetroFocus: The Tech Economy,” airing on THIRTEEN on June 30 at 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and July 12 at 8:30 p.m.; on WLIW at 5:30 a.m. on June 30; on NJTV on July 1 at 5:30 a.m. and July 2 at 4:30 a.m.



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