Austin's unique "BE"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“Locate, Engage, Wow!”

-- As told by ATXEquation student Amarette Edmonson --

“An experience occurs when [an organization] intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as the props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.” – Pine and Gilmore. Recently in class, we spent the evening talking about experiences and what comprises an experience. We began class by looking at how parents prepare for a birthday party as an analogy of experiences. There are four important things that compose an experience design: commodities, goods, services and an experience. Goods are composed of commodities, services are delivered using goods, and experiences include various services. In relation to the birthday party experience, Chuck-E-Cheese allows the parent to relax and enjoy the whole experience because it stages the experience.

There is a whole business of experience design and how to create an experience that can be compared to a film production. The organization is the producer/designer of the experience; the audience is the customer; and the actor is the employee. In order to create a memorable experience, its important to understand the needs and wants of the audience or as Michael Barnes stated, “align goals” with your audience and “attune personality” with your goods or services. An experience designer has to be able to slide up and down the scale of commodities, goods, services, and experiences depending on the level of participation and engagement of the particular audience. For example, a movie buff might be more interested in the experience of watching a movie in a theater with surround sound and a huge screen, whereas another person might be interested in simply renting the video from Redbox or something like that.

According to the ATXEquation model for experience, there are three parts of creating a good experience: locate, engage and wow. Locate happens before the experience and its important to find your audience where they’re at and help them navigate the experience. During the experience, it’s important to engage the audience. For example, make them work, make it meaningful, personalize when possible, and gather key data. After the experience, it’s important to wow your audience by customizing the outcome, give a take-away, and by adding some element of surprise and delight factor. All of these elements are an important part of the experience. In Austin, Amy’s Ice Creams has done a good job of utilizing all three of these elements in their stores. There are so many examples of this model in all kinds of experiences, large and small. Since learning about these elements, I’ve been noticing them when visiting different places in Austin. What are your favorite Austin Experiences?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ATXEquation Course: How to Pitch a Scene

- As told by ATXEquation student Erica Tillson -

Recently the ATXEquation class at St. Edwards University had an opportunity to learn from a highly experienced professional with an excellent reputation. Austin socialite, blogger, and writer for the
Austin American Statesman, Michael Barnes, joined us as a guest speaker.

Taught by collaborators and ATXEquation co-founders Heather McKissick and Bijoy Goswami, the Austin Equation aims at exploring what makes Austin uniquely Austin. Through experience and journalism, the class dissects the various scenes in Austin including those selected by the student groups: nightlife, food, music and fashion. Barnes shared his extensive knowledge of Austin. He also shared some fundamental aspects of good media journalism with students that day.

I think it's safe to say there aren’t many people that wouldn’t want Michael’s job. Michael Barnes is the Austin American-Statesman's social columnist. Michael is an ‘experiencer’ of events and scenes. Michael’s blog,‘Out and About’ depicts Austin’s uniqueness and fabulous experiential capacity as seen from his point of view. Two out of 3 people in Central Texas read the Austin American Statesman. @outandabout currently has almost 6,000 followers on Twitter.

This savvy entertainment journalist didn’t get to the top with out a few ground rules—which he was quick to share with students. “Remember only four words” Michael said about media journalism and pitching the Austin Experience: “Align goals. Attune personalities.” What is most important, it seems, is aligning goals with your audience and attuning with their personality - especially when it comes to media relations.

Some students agreed there is no better way to learn than getting hands-on experience from a teacher after a lecture. Barnes shared more insights as a journalist covering people, places, and scenes. He added that a journalist must constantly ask him/herself certain things and be self-critical of the work. After reminding us that a good journalist must ask "What are the communities in the scene?" Barnes surprised us during class by announcing we would be inviting him to the scenes of our choice via Twitter, email, by phone and in person. What followed was a fun, interactive workshop that was beneficial to all the students in "pitching" our selected scenes.

Personally, I had a wonderful experience during Barnes lecture and workshop, and practicing my scene-marketing skills on the Yoda of the Austin Experience only made me a more skilled communicator.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Energy Scene expands outreach

Several leaders in various Green Energy communities have been working with various members of the Austin clean tech community, under the guidance of ATXEquation to steward our own "Energy Scene".

The ultimate goal is to convene community participants together to communicate, share ideas, share calendars, and further develop and nurture the "Energy Scene". This will ultimately help organize and facilitate a stronger sense of coordination, cohesiveness and collaboration amongst the different people, groups, and companies within Austin.

Our first step was to map out all of the people, companies, groups, and resources in Austin relating to energy. In June, we opened the first draft of the "Energy Scene" map to the public. In total, 39 people requested access to edit and view the map and 16 made changes.

Now, we will personally sit down with key stakeholders that expressed interest in the first round of edits.

With this stakeholder feedback, we will begin to identify next steps and outline an implementation plan that will move us toward a more organized and navigable clean energy community in Austin, benefiting all parties involved and stewarding the future of Austin's clean energy economy.

As we continue to progress, we will keep you and the community informed.

Please contact any of us (emails below) if you have any further questions, or would like to provide input.

We look forward to your continued participation, support, and interest.


Chad Blevins ( - Jackson School Energy Resources Group, President

Audrey Thompson ( - Solar Austin, President

Stephen Garten ( - Austin Technology Incubator, Senior Associate

John King ( - Focused Advocacy, Senior Associate

Jeffrey Sabins ( - McCombs Cleantech Group, President

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The ATXEquation course has launched

Just a quick note to say how much fun it has been to launch the ATX Equation course at St. Edward's University this Fall. We're thrilled to have a great group of 2 students with us exploring the model and helping us unpack and expand it. The semester is organized into three units (conveniently) - Experience, Community and Scene. Each unit contains some lecture, some reading, some personal blogging and a healthy dose of guest speakers and field trips to round out the "experience."
We are excited and grateful for our friends and supporters who are helping us as it unfolds. Stay tuned here for guest posts from students and others who will be chronicling what we're learning together. You can check out the partial reading list here.