Betaworks’ James Cooper on building products, brands, and communities

Spend some time around the world of startups and it probably won’t be long until you hear someone mention the term startup studio. 


It’s recently become a bit of a buzz term for consultancies, ad agencies and brands, but New York company Betaworks have been working in and around this area for over a decade.


As well as their work building and investing in companies, Betaworks have recently opened Studios, their own membership space in the city’s Meatpacking district.


James Cooper is the company’s head of creative, working across a diverse range of projects from GIF sharing platforms to spatial design, voice recognition to meditation. 


We talked about how we can use technology to escape technology, what Betaworks look for when programming live events, the future of the shared experience, and the benefits to looking outside to find inspiration in an always-on digital world.




Episode overview


04:00 Going from digital to physical products


07:00 Why now for building a brick & mortar space?


10:00 The thought process behind Studios’ live event programming


18:00 The role of a creative director in a startup studio


25:00 Inside Betaworks’ ‘Camp’ accelerator program


33:00 The future of the shared experience; from games, to meditation, live quizzes and beyond


37:00 Where James finds inspiration, and how he stays on track 


40:00 Advice for people wanting to build something new




About James


James has been Head of Creative at start-up studio Betaworks since 2013. His role is to explore creative opportunities for betaworks products and tell the betaworks brand story. Some of the betaworks brands include the no.1 game, Dots, which has been downloaded over 150 million times and won many industry awards.


Other betaworks products include GIPHY, the search engine for Gifs recently valued at $600M, Poncho, the most popular bot on Facebook and recent star of Apple's, 'Planet of the App's and Dexter, a bot building platform. James also produced ‘The Intern’, a hit podcast about working in betaworks and the tech world. 


Recently James launched betaworks Studios, a club for builders. Studios is a physical space where the new generation of builders can find one another and learn the secrets of sustained innovation betaworks has uncovered over the last ten years.


Before betaworks, James was a creative director in the ad world where he has won many awards including two gold lions at Cannes. He was a Creative Partner at Anomaly and ran Dare - named Digital Agency of the Decade in London and sold for $50m in 2007. 



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