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07 Nov


ThingsConAMS: The State of Things

November 7, 2014 | By |

This weekend I’m in Amsterdam for ThingsConAMS, our first satellite event for ThingsCon. The Monique, Iskander and the team have done a fantastic job bringing the atmosphere and energy of ThingsCon to Amsterdam.

Above, the slides for my keynote. Enjoy!

30 May


Berlin Innovation Meetup Tokyo

May 30, 2014 | By |

My slides from Berlin Innovation Meetup at Recruit’s Tokyo HQ.


24 Jan


3D printing in the pets toys and food industries

January 24, 2014 | By |

Wednesday and Thursday I was in Amsterdam for a talk at PETS Global Forum, a big annual gathering of the pets toys, accessories and food industry. They had hired me to talk about the impact of new technologies (mainly 3D printing, but also the internet of things) on the pets industry. It’s an industry I knew very little about going in — before starting to prep for the talk — so I was very interested to learn more while I was there.

In a packed ballroom at gorgeous Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky smack in the center of Amsterdam, the 200 or so attendees were the decision makers of that industry around the globe.


The winter garden of the hotel doubled as expo hall.


Turns out that pet-related industries are largely immune to external market crises: People spend money on their pets, no matter what. In fact, throughout the global financial crisis over the last few years, the pets industry has been constantly growing.

That said, obviously if you’re in the business of selling plastic and metal products as well as prepared food, technology is kind of high on your agenda – hence the interest in 3D printing and related technologies.

What I tried is to look beyond the hype of 3D printing and give an honest view on the kind of impact — and the market opportunities — that 3D printing might have on these industries. No hand-wavy futurism and 3D print utopia, but very down-to-earth estimations and advice.

Here’s what I came up with:


The slides were made, by the way, with the Deckset app I mentioned on this blog before.


Of course I’m always happy to look at the impact and opportunities emerging technologies have at various industries. If you’d like to have me speak, the best way is to contact Tessa over at The Next Speaker (who represent me for these kind of gigs), and if you’d like to take a closer look at your company and its strategy, get in touch about an advisory role.

16 Jan


Deckset: Build your presentations in Markdown

January 16, 2014 | By |

For the last few days I’ve been beta testing Deckset, a Markdown-based presentation tool for Mac built by (among others) Chris Eidhof, one of my partners in UIKonf. (In fact, I believe I might have been user #1, but who knows.)

And boy, Deckset is delightful to work with. As someone who quite regularly, but not all-that-frequently gives presentations, I know my way around Keynote of course, but don’t have the kind of massive collection of slides (or even a cool customized template) that more frequent speakers do. So for me, being able to edit really quickly and to work with some design constraints is just perfect.

To give you an idea just how much of a breeze it is to work with Deckset: You write your text in very simple Markdown syntax into a text file, drop in the picture name, place the picture in the same folder as the markdown file. Done. Editing happens straight in the text file. Again, you save, and you’re done.


Deckset turns this…


Deckset syntax


…into this:


Deckset screenshot Image by mikebaird, CC by


There are constraints — lots of constraints — in what you can do in terms of layout. It’s Markdown, so it’s pretty basic: Headers, lists, bold and italic, that kind of thing. Deckset does the rest.

Deckset comes with a selection of templates, and you can tell that a team of (I say this as a compliment) total type nerds built it – the templates look gorgeous. The first preview (1.0) came with something like 4 templates of 3 color combinations each; this morning’s update (1.3) brought it up to 4 templates and 4-7 color combinations each. They range from very serious/timeless (“Classic”) to one alluding to the era and style of Mad Men (“Swiss”) to quite bold (“Poster”) to playful (“Superfun”).

It’s all about image + text, so the team had to come up with some solutions on how to handle images in very different ways: Where the Poster theme leaves the images more or less as vibrant as they are and just throws large, bold-ish typeface on top, the Swiss theme pushes the images more into the background, converted into grayscale and overlaid with a single color, so it’s more focused on the type. The Modern theme is somewhere in between: Images stay in color, but are blurred to serve as background more than as images. Switching between themes happens on the fly, no re-rendering necessary.

Oh yes, Deckset also supports clickers and does PDF exports of course.

So who is Deckset for?

Deckset is for… anyone who regularly does presentations and likes to edit them very simply on the fly. If you just occasionally do presentations and want them to look great without using the Keynote standard templates, Deckset is great too.


Deckset is not for… speakers who have their own custom-made templates and are very invested in their collection of Keynote slides, or who need to show videos as part of their presentations.


Why the long write up? For one, when friends build great tools it’s worth a shout out. More importantly, Deckset is a great tool to for me, and I’m going to test it in the field next week for a talk in Amsterdam (so it’d better work!). I’m not sure when Deckset will be out officially, but the moment it is I’ll be the first in line to pay for my copy.


You can sign up for the invitation list on


Full disclosure: I’m currently using the app for free as a beta tester.