Issue 8

Offscreen No8, our second issue of 2014, brings you conversations with Australian-born banking maverick Josh Reich; New Orleans-based ed-tech entrepreneur Jennifer Medbery; the founder of award-winning digital agency Big Spaceship, Michael Lebowitz; creator and print devotee Richard Moross; trailblazing Paper and Pencil maker Georg Petschnigg; and Twitter's Vice-President of Design, Mike Davidson.


Josh Reich

Co-Founder of Simple — on quitting med school, his nerdy adulation of numbers, and his concept of a pain-free relationship with money.

Jennifer Medbery

Founder of Kickboard — on the role of tech in education, being an entrepreneur in post-Katrina New Orleans, and how to make kids think like programmers.

Michael Lebowitz

Founder of Big Spaceship — on making websites for Hollywood, how seating arrangements affect creative output, and his aversion to rock-star culture.

Richard Moross

Founder of MOO — on the worst product name in the history of branding, and building a tech company on the back of a printing business.

Georg Petschnigg

Co-Founder of FiftyThree — on how modern dance techniques inspire his leadership style, the complexity of hardware production, and the nonlinear creative process.

Mike Davidson

Twitter VP of Design — on his formative years in the mosh pit, how to measure startup success, and discovering permanence in building his own home.


Thoughts — Food for thought by Greg Knauss and Cassie McDaniel

A Day In The Life OfRafael Conde, Rin Räuber, PJ McCormick, Alice Newton

FeatureChris McClelland builds a mobile-controlled, beer-brewing robot.

ProfileThe Conversation presents a new approach for fact-based news reporting.

Founder StoryDale Partridge leads a for-profit company with a charitable mission at heart.

User ExperienceDuolingo connects language students worldwide.

FeatureTyler Kealey art-directs from his home in the remote Canadian mountains.

Home WorkRicky Onsman, Erin Anacker, Duncan Graham, Julien Martin

Rules of Business — Guiding principles for doing business by Dan Mall.

FeatureAdam King applies his world-building gamer skills to real life.

Founder Story Jim Yoon develops a mobile solution for better water access across Africa.

Outliers — Local tech communities off the beaten track. Preshit Deorukhkar, Travis Miller, Syahmi Ismail, Akaliza Keza Gara

Gear Guide — by Casper Klenz-Kitenge

FeaturePatrick Durgin-Bruce prints the next generation of jewellery.

WorkspaceStripe, Open Table, Wotif, Twitter, envato, YouTube Creator Space

Founder StoryMatthew Buchanan oversees a lively community of movie lovers.

FeatureLinda Liukas makes a kids book about programming.

Local FocusDoc Parsons co-runs a ticketing service out of Dublin, Ireland.

ReflectionsMatt Gemmell and the meaning of legacy in the digital age.

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It is an unfortunate consequence of our society that people’s sense of self-worth is often tied to their net worth.

It takes a certain amount of unflinching determination, entrepreneurial vigour and a bit of rebellious discontent to challenge the colossal beast that is the banking industry. Frustrated with having to fill out paper cheques in order to connect power and gas at his apartment, Australian-born Josh Reich set out to overhaul the way we manage our money and pay our bills. As CEO of Portland-based Simple, he reimagines the concept of personal banking by putting customer satisfaction and user experience front and centre.

I’m a firm believer in doing well by doing good.

With the familiar tale of the college-dropout-turned-internet- millionaire in mind, we’re quick to point out the shortcomings of our sluggish education system. While Jennifer Medbery firmly believes technology alone can’t fix all problems, her company Kickboard offers a fresh, web-based approach for a more effective student-teacher relationship. By combining her background in computer-science and her experience in teaching she sets an ambitious vision and realistic example of how technology can improve students’ performance within the confines of an antiquated institution.

We’re not in the business of producing design or code or strategy. We’re in the business of wielding those skills together to solve problems and make companies more successful.

If there is such a thing as an internet veteran, Michael Lebowitz would probably fit the bill. He has been creating online content and making websites since the days of CompuServe. Today he is the man at the helm of Big Spaceship, a New York-based digital agency that over the scope of no less than 14 years has received accolades for ‘Most Innovative Company’ and ‘Best Place to Work’. From Sony Pictures and Nike, to Google and Coca Cola, it’s a portfolio that makes your head spin and begs the question what his secret is for working with the world’s biggest brands.

The bond a founder has with their company can be obsessive; perhaps it needs to be.

Despite the rise of social networks and contact sharing apps, the humble business card remains the networking tool of choice. More than ten years ago, Richard Moross saw an opportunity to consolidate the technical capabilities of the web and the universal role of the business card and established Today his company produces millions of highly-customised, printed cards shipped to hundreds of thousands of customers every year. And according to the London-based CEO, there are no signs that the prevalence of print in social networking is fading any time soon.

The world of shrink wrap software with a single up-front price feels like an all-you-can-eat buffet, which invariably leads to feature bloat.

The wealth and breadth of his expertise is nothing short of impressive: with profound academic and practical experience in engineering, economics, product design and entrepreneurship, Georg Petschnigg’s prerequisites for starting a tech company could hardly be more ideal. And the result speaks for itself: with FiftyThree, maker of Paper and Pencil, he and his team have developed an unparalleled, award-winning approach to personal creation in the digital age. With Georg’s ingenious sense for combining the various disciplines that make up a truly innovative product, he displays a laser-sharp focus on the road ahead for his company, and technology as a whole.

I find myself suffering from impostor syndrome whenever I am referred to as a designer, or worse yet, an artist.

Before Mike Davidson joined the startup circus, he had several ground-breaking achievements to his name that helped make the web a better place. When he launched his community-driven news site Newsvine back in 2005, it set a precedent for online discussion and social engagement at a time when social media was still in its infancy. Almost a decade later he talks candidly about his company’s acquisition by Recently, Mike left his beloved hometown of Seattle, and the house he built, to help cultivate a deeper level of design thinking at Twitter HQ in San Francisco.

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