Photo: Gabriel BarlettaFUZEnation, explained Kayleigh Platz August 17, 2016 Columns, Tech About Town A lot of people have been asking lately: “What is FUZEnation?” It’s an event that seemed to come from nowhere but is jam-packed with headline speakers and wrapped in slick branding. Since Communitech is a supporter I’m happy to give them the answer: “sometimes, when something awesome happens, it all happens at once.” No, really. Here at Communitech, we like to support other people doing cool stuff in the community — like Geek Week, FlashWR, Maker Expo and Summer Lights Festival. Our community is passionate and wants to share that passion with others, and we all benefit from that. So, when Shevaun Voisin reached out late last fall with an idea, I was intrigued. Voisin and her team wanted to bring a large scale event to a community that they believed was ready for it. Voisin’s idea? An event that brought together the best of South By Southwest (SXSW) and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Shevaun Voisin, FUZEnation organizer Today, Voisin and her team are getting ready for the first FUZEnation happening this September 27 – 30 right here in Waterloo Region. Featuring speakers like Steve Wozniak and Biz Stone as well as musicians like Kygo. To get the scoop, I sat down with Voisin to find out what she has planned. Q – Tell me about FUZEnation. Where did the idea come from? A – The idea for FUZEnation came from the simple belief that technology and music and their intersection are worth exploring and celebrating! Musicians and tech entrepreneurs are similar in archetype: They see something others don’t and with dogged determination, create something from nothing. Both tap into the spirit that’s driven to take risk, be resourceful and then tenaciously execute. We wanted to create a platform for this unique hybrid, recognizing that the market that loves evolving technology, also loves music created with innovative technology. The idea was followed by the immediate need to build a team that would have the bandwidth to deliver. In December we presented the concept to Live Nation and we partnered on the condition that it would be launched here first in the “Tech Capital of Canada”. Rebecca Lambrecht of the Chicane Group, Colleen Grillo of Proven Talent, and Emmanuel Patterson of Live Nation are my partners. It has been a long time coming. Q – What will the experience be like? A – Over the course of four days, tech companies, entrepreneurs, exhibitors, innovators, and music enthusiasts will have an excellent opportunity to converge and connect. The experience will be multi-faceted. Those attending the tech summit will be inspired by our world-class speakers, those attending the tech exhibition will be in awe of what has been created in our region, exhibitors will inevitably cross-pollinate ideas, those attending the outdoor concert will celebrate and enjoy the shared collective vibration of a live event. In short, I suspect that FUZEnation will be a springboard for innovation, inspiration, and opportunity. Q – Who should attend? A – If you’re interested in growing personally and professionally, attend the speaker series as an audience member. If you’re a university or college student recognize the recruitment potential in interacting with the most innovative technology companies we have. If you love ever-evolving technology, stroll through the exhibits and meet innovators face to face. If you love outdoor concerts, see Kygo and Keys N Krates live. If you are a mad fan of legendary turntablist A-Trak and have never seen a DJ demonstration, show up for that! If you want to engage in inspired conversation, hang out in tech lounge. Simply put, if you love music and you love technology, you should attend. Q – You have some incredible tech speakers lined up – what are you most excited for from the speaker series? A – I’m most excited about being able to stand at the back of the venue and witness the high vibration exchange I anticipate happening between our speakers and our audience. We have invited absolutely revered icons from the tech world, including Steve Wozniak (Apple), Biz Stone (Twitter, Jelly), and keynote speaker Alexis Ohanian (Reddit) as well as our own Michael Litt (Vidyard) and Steven Woods (Google) and more to be announced. Each will share their unique perspective and journey and this will inevitably create the opportunity for those in attendance to have a shifted perspective. Shifted perspective leads to personal and professional growth. That growth can transform a life. That’s what I live for, the joy in helping and watching others rise to their fullest potential. That this event will be happening here, where I was born and raised makes me very happy. Q – Exhibition booth pricing is high for a Waterloo Region event, especially for startups. Is there help available? A – The measured intention of FUZEnation from the beginning has been to showcase the brilliance and talent and genius in Waterloo Region. This in large part includes our start-ups who are doing everything within their power to create. Very often they are creating on a shoestring not unlike Woz and Jobs. For this reason, we have begun reaching out to companies who share the same belief that our start-ups are worth promoting, with a specific ask to sponsor their exhibit fee. So, in short, “yes”, it is a priority to prominently include our start-ups and raise their profiles globally. (Vidyard has offered to live-feed the event to the internet.) Q – What do you want people to get out of the event? A – We are creating the space for opportunity. What audience members, and exhibitors, and attendees decide to do will be their choice. What I’m predicting those in our region will do, is what we always do: Fulfill our insatiable need for learning, recognize that opportunity is created through interaction, celebrate innovation, foster meaningful connections, generate solid business opportunities and be inspired. Q – What other questions should I be asking you? A – We’re really excited about the venue for FUZEnation at 41 Ardelt Ave. in Kitchener. It’s expansive in scope, with a unique raw industrial feel. The space will mirror the innovation it houses. The tech summit will be held inside the venue, with the musical performances taking place directly outside. Concert tickets are on sale now at frontgatetickets.com. Event line up can be viewed and exhibits can be booked at fuze-nation.com. *** I see and hear that… This Thursday, August 18 is On the Move: Silent Art Auction for the Art District Gallery. Running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the gallery’s current location (310 King St. E., Unit 201, Kitchener) the free evening features a silent auction, live music by Andy Klaehn and a chance to see the final exhibit in the space…. Next Wednesday, August 24 is the monthly KW Poker Chicks game at EY (515 Riverbend Drive, Kitchener). Buy in costs $15 and features a ‘how-to-play’ lesson at 7 p.m., a guest speaker at 7:30 p.m. with the tournament beginning at 8 p.m. All levels of player are encouraged to come out for snacks and wine as well as cards and laughs… end the summer with a rave on Friday, August 26. The White Party Fundraiser for the Arts is being hosted by Collective Identity and is raising money for its upcoming exhibition in January 2017 called Exnovation. The party will be in the vacant Budds Department Store (165 King St. W., Kitchener). Tickets are $15 for one person and $20 for two people, with tickets available only at the door. The evening kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and promises snacks, a cash bar, games, dancing and dance music spun by DJ Alienboy. The dress code? White.