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Joining faberNovel For Some Innovation Fun in NYC and Beyond

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past few months, you’ve probably seen some passing mentions of the company faberNovel and the innovative work they do. I’m excited to announce today that I’m joining them to work as their Head of New York Operations.

faberNovel is a very interesting company. (I personally think of them more as a growing network of smart people than as a company in the traditional sense of the word). They focus on innovation and disruption, and on finding various ways to monetize those things. This focus takes a number of forms. They provide “innovation services” for big companies like Vodafone, Orange and Volkswagen, helping them conceptualize, design and build exciting new products and services within their own organization. They also create and host co-working spaces where small, innovative companies can share space and benefit from close contact with others in the faberNovel family (they run PariSoma in San Francisco, and are currently opening another space in Paris). They also launch products themselves as startups when the opportunity presents itself (for example Digitick, which they launched in 2004 and which is now the leader in online ticketing in Europe). Finally, they publish free reports on innovation and disruption, for everyone to benefit from.

Last week they published a report called “Amazon: The Hidden Empire” about how Amazon has exploited three key strategies to transform itself from a small company into a retail giant. The report has had over 90,000 views so far. You can see it on TechCrunch here.

This idea of mixing up different approaches to innovation makes so much sense to me that I was drawn to faberNovel immediately. Ideas benefit from exposure to other ideas. Innovation is really a game of cross-pollination. I learned that at ITP, and then even more with DIYcity and with the local startup scene in NYC. The people at faberNovel understand that and have built a company (network!) around it.

So what has faberNovel done? Well, lots. They do a lot of work with transportation and public, city-based projects. They do all of the apps for RATP, the company that runs the Paris subway and bus systems. (See here and here). They spearheaded one of the main responses to the RFP for Autolib, the Parisian carsharing system. They’ve done public interactive displays for bus stops (here). They also do beautiful visualization of big data sets (here). Last year they built monet2010, a site that won 2 Webbies and a bunch of other awards. They did an experiment in 2006 called BlueEyes that enabled blind people to navigate the Paris subways with bluetooth and wifi. That has since turned into an indoor geolocation product for airports, malls, etc. The list is long. (See videos of some of the work they’ve done here.)

You can see the clear overlap between their interests and mine from that list of projects they’ve worked on.

The other thing I like about faberNovel is that every person I’ve met there is very nice, very smart and optimistic about their ability to help create positive change. I haven’t seen that combination anywhere in a long time. It seems effective, and it seems contagious.

But the reason I decided to join forces with faberNovel is that it seemed to be a great opportunity at this exact point in time – an opportunity for me, and for them, but even more so an opportunity for New York City. I feel like innovation and entrepreneurship are about to undergo a big change in structural makeup. Organizations like YCominator are paving the way toward more networked, connected groups of innovators and entrepreneurs, and are changing the models as they go. faberNovel is part of this change.

I see this as a chance to plug New York City into this great network that is taking off around the world, and for everyone to benefit from it.

So that is that – I’m joining forces with faberNovel, I’m already working with them part-time, and will go full-time with them in the fall.

I’ll continue working on things like DIYcity on the side, and as they fit in with my work with faberNovel (and it seems like there is possibly some good overlap there). So expect more on that front.

More to come…

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