Emily Lutzker – Founder and CEO of OpenInvo

[quote style=”boxed”]Before I was an entrepreneur I was an artist. When you are creating a painting or a sculpture, you start with a concept of something you want to create. Then you enter an exploratory phase and gather the materials you need. Then you start building. Then you adjust, repaint, rebuild, erase, carve out, layer more stuff on top. It’s the same with any idea.[/quote]

Emily Lutzker, PhD, OpenInvo Founder and CEO, brings people and companies together to create unexpected and relevant results. At a time when creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are fast becoming workplace necessities, Emily’s varied background has prepared her to wonder and inquire, “What box?”

A former artist who has shown her work internationally, Emily holds a PhD in Media and Communications from the European Graduate School (EGS). She is a grant recipient of the Jerome Foundation/St. John’s Pottery, and the Israeli Ministry of the Interior. Emily has taught for the New School’s Graduate Media Studies Program and its Undergraduate Department of Communication; the
Center for Interactive Communication at Beit Berl College/Ha Midrasha School of Art; has been a guest instructor at Bezalel Design Academy; and has participated in numerous doctoral dissertation defense committees for the EGS. She is the former coordinator and moderator of Beit Berl’s New Media Colloquium, a speaker series bridging the curriculum of the New Media, Information Studies,
and Games Development Programs. Emily has been a guest speaker at Florida Atlantic University, Tel Aviv University, Ignite NYC, the International Schopenhauer Association, and Tel Aviv’s Performance Art Platform and Center for Contemporary Art.

Outside of academia and fine art, Emily has noodled around as a graphic designer, film producer, stylist, curator, critic, and location scout. She now applies her creativity to the business world with OpenInvo.

What are you working on right now?

OpenInvo. It’s a marketplace for ideas and platform for open innovation.

What does your typical day look like?

I work out of NY co-working space, WeWorkLabs. I get there around 9am, and seem to spend a lot of time answering emails and going to meetings – some biz dev, some marketing, some user support, some product development. And after about 6, if I’m not at the office late, I go to events of all sorts—tech startup, media, art and design or science.

3 trends that excite you?

  1. The “ideas economy” or the “creative economy” as some call it. Hearing that creativity is the most important quality that employers look for, and seeing what great things come out of trans-disciplinary teams is a trend whose time has come. Finally, right-brainers are being seen as an important piece of the business puzzle.
  2. Ubiquitous Computing. Not really a trend, I guess, but it’s the direction that computing is moving in, although slowly. We’ll see things differently and behave differently once communication and information doesn’t confine us to stare at screens in our hands and on our desks, but becomes one with the physical world.
  3. The fact that we are living longer. There are over 70,000 Americans who are over 100 years old. This changes everything. Not only does it open up a huge market opportunity for products and services to enhance life as we age, but also changes how we will think about our different phases in life. Now, infrastructure and preconceived ideas need to change with this new reality — that’s an exciting challenge.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Before I was an entrepreneur I was an artist. When you are creating a painting or a sculpture, you start with a concept of something you want to create. Then you enter an exploratory phase and gather the materials you need. Then you start building. Then you adjust, repaint, rebuild, erase, carve out, layer more stuff on top. It’s the same with any idea.

With OpenInvo, we don’t focus directly on bringing the ideas that come to us to life, we focus on bringing the ideas to the institutions who can bring them to life.

What inspires you?

People. Art. Dance. Cities. Philosophy. The stuff that we’ve built and ideas that we’ve dreamed up.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I offered a discount prematurely. I learned two things from that.

  1. Don’t offer a discount, let them ask.
  2. Take meetings in person whenever possible, communication is so limited over the phone.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The OpenInvo blog is full of them (make sure you look at the older posts too). But just yesterday, I wished someone would design a better garbage can system for small kitchens.

What do you read every day, and why?

The only thing I read every day is the NY Times. But I rotate lots of other resources—anything from tech and innovation blogs and magazines, to arts based periodicals, and many nights I’m curled up with a science fiction book.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

The Possibility of an Island, by Michel Houellebecq. It’s hard to pick only one, but we need to be reminded of how our fast paced technology could change us, and how much our personal interactions are important.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

The basic inventions are more important to me—modern plumbing—now that was genius!

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

@adambly, founder of Seed Media Group. Have you seen Seed Magazine!?

@hughmason, co-founder of the Joyful Frog and author of forthcoming book, Brainfruit. He always finds relevant content.

@PopSci, for all the good fun nerdy stuff.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Wolfgang Schirmacher, philosopher, my former professor and founder of the Media and Communication program at the European Graduate School.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

Last night. I was with an architect friend. He showed me a funny picture he took of some badly translated English.

You can’t have done this all alone. Tell us about the OpenInvo team?

My co-founder, Eyal Fried, was instrumental in propelling OpenInvo and me forward. His background is in communication, psychology, computer science and design, so a true interdisciplinarian. Jeremy Stanton, has been a fantastic technology partner; Jason Brody, has worked with me on the editorial of the site; and many others that I can’t thank enough for their hard work.

Do you have any favorite quotations or sayings that you think about?

Martin Mull said, “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” I never really understood that. Dance and architecture are interconnected. Both are centered around how human bodies perceive and move in space. As far as music and talking go, could talking be a kind of music? Talking, music, dancing and architecture are all communications, I don’t think we need to compartmentalize them and put them at odds with each other. What’s important is to choose the medium that adds value to the message.

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