September 18, 2015

Behind the curtain: Sprout Night

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In this series, Communications Consultant (and technical dunce) Laura takes a look at some of the happenings behind the scenes at Odecee…

sprout night2

Last week, everyone in the Odecee office seemed to be talking about something called ‘Sprout Night’. I couldn’t walk to the kitchen without someone saying “Coming to Sprout Night?” or “Sprout Night tomorrow!” or “Laura please stop eating the specially-made cake that has ‘Sprout Night’ spelled out on it in chocolate ganache – we’ve already asked you four times”.

Naturally, I had a few questions. What is a ‘sprout’ and why does it necessitate its own night? What happens during this celebration of sprouts?? Where are you taking that cake???

After the sugar high wore off, I carefully clambered down from the top of the filing cabinet and set about finding some answers…

What is a Sprout?

‘Sprout’, it seems, is the name of Odecee’s internal innovation event. Several times a year, Odecee team members come together over two days to work on their own ideas and experiment with new technologies in teams of their choosing.

Frankly, the whole thing sounds to me like an excuse to get together and basically play video games, but I’m assured that’s not the case. Each Sprout idea must address a genuine business or customer problem; the most viable ideas – as selected by the rest of the Odecee team at the end of the event – are then further developed into actual products.

What is a Sprout night?

Sprout Night is an exclusive soiree for Odecee customers, where Odecee team members demonstrate a number of innovations from Sprout and everyone drinks lots of wine.

Where are you taking that cake?

“To Sprout Night.” Clearly I needed to find a way to get there.

What happens at Sprout Night?

This is where things become interesting, because – being a serious investigative journalist – I managed to actually talk my way in by tracking down Odecee’s Head of Innovation, Kelvin. It was surprisingly easy; all I had to do was “just please, please stop emailing”. See? Journalism. Now, settle in and get the Walkley ready…

Sprout Night: Stories from the inside…

This Sprout Night took place at Woolshed Pub in Melbourne’s Docklands (side note: highly recommend this venue for an event – much nicer than a shed, but surprisingly bereft of wool). The evening kicked off with some informal chit-chat around the ‘tech space’, where Odecee people proved once-and-for-all that Sprout is definitely not about playing video games by … playing video games.

Actually, the tech space was pretty cool – as well as the video games (Oculus Rift virtual reality) there was a 3D printer churning out models of attendees’ heads, Adam Purdie’s robot spiders, Stas Likane’s giant drone and Dan Bradby’s ‘Home Power Visualisation’ system (which looks like an adorable little disco for one, but is actually a clever way of keeping track of power usage in the home – when you’ve used too much, the lights change colour. I hear the Bradby household is pretty much Studio 54 in the suburbs.)

tech space

After half an hour of very professional and business-y mucking around with toys, it was time for the idea demonstrations. The venue was set up like a marketplace, with each of the idea owners having their own little branded platform from which to demo. Presentations kicked-off with a video on the big screen that provided an overview of the idea, then moved to a hands-on demonstration at the idea marketplace, then back to the screen for the next idea, and so on. Watching our customers trying to follow the show around the room was like watching the crowd at Wimbledon, but they assured us the crick necks were worth it.

sprout-clients

To break up the presentations, there was a quick competition. The clever Dan B built a ‘find the spiderbot’ game; using smartphones and Google cardboard, our customers had to make their way through a virtual reality maze to – bet you didn’t see this coming – find the spiderbot. The first to find it won an Apple Watch. Many congratulations to the winner Peter T., who definitely didn’t accidentally totally buck the system by going AROUND the maze instead of through it.

sprout comp

The whole thing was brilliantly hosted by the ‘pin-up boys of Innovation’, Steve Forbes and Kelvin Dart. One of the highlights of the night was watching Kelvin’s metamorphosis from straight-laced business man into Vegas-style stand-up comedian. (At one point I swear I heard him say “I’ll be here all week, try the veal”).

At the end of the formalities, I braced myself for the inevitable stampede to the door as customers raced to make it home for the end of Dogs Make You LOL, but incredibly, just about everyone stuck around. And get this – they didn’t even play with the spiderbots; instead, they actually talked about the ideas, their possible ‘real-world’ applications, and how they could use Sprout to investigate their own innovations. BUSINESS WINS!

business-sprout

All in all, the latest Sprout Night seemed to be a pretty big success. The ideas were clever, the food was delicious and the wine was plentiful. Unfortunately, no one got to have any cake – apparently a crazed blonde woman tackled the kitchen staff and ran off with it yelling, “It’s okay – I’m a serious investigative journalist!”. What a shame.

 

If you want to check out the kinds of ideas we showcase at Sprout Night, have a look at these quick videos put together by Stas Likane:

 

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Categorised in: About Odecee, Events

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