As the CEO of fábrica de bots, the business conducts a variety of services that include the use of chat bots to enhance instant messaging platforms. Striving to provide connections for businesses and their customers, Dino shed light on the functionality of the WhatsApp platform for corporate enterprises. Committed to simplifying communication tactics for both parties, their main focus is to “make people’s lives simpler.”
WhatsApp allows people around the world communicate for varying services. As around 86% of Mexico already use the platform, Dino aims to continue to expand fábrica de bots internationally.
The firm works primarily with civil society organizations, something that Dino has been passionate about for her entire career. She traveled to New York in 2012 where she attended NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, obtaining an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy.
Working in New York for around seven years, Dino continued her career at NYU’s Governance Laboratory conducting work “dedicated to deepening our understanding of how to govern more effectively and legitimately through technology.”
Continuing to innovate and change the world of tech, Dino wants to continue to help other civil organizations expand their services via WhatsApp. “We’re very focused on that, our slogan is ‘changing the world one bot at a time.’”
Dino continued, stating, “And if we can do something to make our lives easier, and there’s a lot of space for improvement in term of services, […] we should do it, but we should do it intentionally.”
The White House Historical Association has announced a new virtual fashion exhibit exploring overlooked designers and seamstresses for first ladies: “Glamour and Innovation: The Women Behind the Seams of Fashion at the White House.” The exhibit is the result of an inaugural academic partnership with New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The partnership with NYU began in January and will continue in 2023, with the next fellow chosen this fall through a competitive application process.
The Association’s first Digital Exhibit fellow, MA/MS Costume Studies student Maegan Jenkins, envisioned the exhibit. Through research, she built the project in collaboration with the Association’s David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History’s Digital Library team.
“People are always interested in what the first lady is wearing, and what kind of message it conveys,” said Jenkins. “With this exhibit, I wanted to move beyond the major fashion houses to tell the lesser-known stories of the women behind some of those dresses and the incredible contributions they’ve made to American history.”
The exhibit highlights the eight entrepreneurial women who forged ahead despite racial discrimination, demonstrated that American designs could rival Parisian fashion and designed across the aisle for first ladies of both parties.
“Maegan’s extensive research has brought to light stories of hidden figures we hear little about, yet in their day were revered talent by first ladies and other social figures. It’s through their craft we are spurring further discussion about White House history,” said Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association.
Through a mix of archival photography, portraits, biographies and press clippings, Jenkins’ exhibit will cover over more than a hundred years in fashion history. The display begins with Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker who was born enslaved, to Mary Matise, who designed Rosalynn Carter’s 1977 inaugural gown.
The exhibit features high-resolution interactive photos with a zoom feature, allowing viewers to explore the intricacies of the designs up close. Jenkins, too, details the first ladies’ unique tastes and economic considerations, giving insight into the relationships built between each designer and first lady.
“We are delighted with Maegan Jenkins’ project. With its focus on the combination of creativity and labor, this initial collaboration between the Costume Studies graduate program and the White House Historical Association adds significantly to the story of White House fashion,” said Nancy Deihl, Chair of the Department of Art and Art Professions at NYU Steinhardt.
The eight designers featured in this exhibit include:
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly, designer of many dresses for First Lady Mary Lincoln
Sally Milgrim, designer of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural gown
Nettie Rosenstein, designer of First Lady Mamie Eisenhower’s 1953 and 1957 inaugural gowns
Ann Lowe, designer of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown
Ethel Frankau, designer of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s inaugural gown
Karen Stark, designer of First Lady Patricia Nixon’s 1969 inaugural gown
Mary Matise, designer of First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s inaugural gown
Frankie Welch, designer of gowns and scarves for First Ladies Patricia Nixon, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, and Rosalynn Carter
Other items featured in the exhibit include Mrs. Lincoln’s checked gown and cape, along with other samples of designers works accomplished throughout their careers.
The project illuminates the Association’s 2022, “Tastemakers & Trendsetters” theme that showcases the fashion, cuisine, social traditions, and individuals who lived, visited, and worked at the White House, and through their talent influenced American culture beyond its gates. Programming such as this is supported by the sale of the Official White House Christmas Ornament.
About Maegan Jenkins
Formally trained in fine art with an emphasis on fiber and textiles, Jenkins is currently an MA/MS candidate in the Costume Studies and Library and Information Sciences dual degree program at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. She is also a graduate at the Gardiner Foundation, contributing to the digitization of their museum archives and meta data.
About The White House Historical Association
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come.
Support entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection and educate the public on the history of the White House.
Since its founding, the White House Historical Association has contributed more than $50 million in fulfillment of its mission. To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit HERE.
Modern dating apps are often draining, sucking the fun out of the thrilling experience that finding a partner should be. Amidst the craze of hookup culture, it’s hard for those of us looking for a real relationship to find someone that isn’t just in search of a fun night. Luckily, we’ve found the perfect app that is based all around fostering positive relationships – its not a dating app, it’s the relationship app – Official.
Make things official with Official, the app that nurtures positive relationships no matter what stage of dating you’re in. Via the app, users have the choice to swipe “Yay” or “Nay” to differing date ideas. To “match” with a partner, you both have to choose “Yay” for a specific date idea. Once matched up, you can plan a date immediately, or you can come back to your match later.
Official encompasses an array of features for partners to build and cultivate positive relationships. From well-needed daily check-ins, a personalized intimacy section, a shared notes folder, countdowns to special events and the opportunity to earn points through practicing healthy relationship habits, Official encompasses all of the tools that you need to cultivate a strong, open partnership.
Official was founded by Zac Stern, business expert and graduate from NYU’s Stern School of Business. Interning with a selection of startup companies throughout his college years, Zac knew that he was interested in this realm of business ventures. Working as a VC his senior year at Stern, he worked his way up to become an associate just in time for his graduation in 2020. Diving into other projects, Zac knew that he wanted to begin his own development in the realm of dating apps, which birthed Official.
Created to encourage healthy relationships, Zac built Official around the next-generation model of social media and apps. The app has continuously gained widespread acclaim, becoming viral on TikTok, and rising to the #5 placement atop the US on Apple’s Lifestyle Charts.
360 Magazine had the opportunity to chat with Zac regarding the app’s inspiration, its various features and why you should start dating on Official.
What inspired you to create Official app?
While working in VC, I analyzed the business models of everything from jetpacks to cancer research; dating apps somehow fall within that range. When looking at a business, you learn that you want to keep your customer. This may seem relatively obvious, but not when it comes to dating apps. Dating apps are an interesting business because they lose their customers when they do their job correctly. But, the same thing happens when they do their job poorly, or when an outside force accomplishes their “goal.” So, from a financial perspective, I realized that it made more sense to focus on helping people stay together because the longer they are together, the longer they want to be our customers. Official switched the incentive so that when our users are happy in their relationship, we win, and if our users struggle in their relationship, we lose.
On the personal side, I was dating someone long-distance at the beginning of 2019 while still in school and studying abroad. I was in London; she was in NYC. I met her two weeks before I left to study abroad, so we started our relationship with many calls, texts, and facetimes. To remember everything, I made a note on my phone about her, another note about her family, Instagram-saved things to do in the future, and pinned every future date spot on my phone’s map. While tedious, this was the only option I thought of. I knew there had to be an easier way. Many of my friends were in relationships, and I noticed everyone wanted to be the “perfect” couple: the couple that had the best dates, cutest photos, and best sex. All of these things happening led me to the idea of Official.
Walk us through the different features available to the couples who join Official.
Official’s goal is to help couples through promoting self-discovery and enhancing communication between partners. We do this because we know how important it is to communicate with your partner and help you find and experience new activities.
As Aron et al says it best in ‘The self-expansion model and optimal relationship development’, “According to self-expansion theory, engaging in activities with a romantic partner that broaden one’s sense of self and perspective of the world (e.g., novel, exciting, interesting, and challenging activities) can reignite feelings of exhilaration and passion reminiscent of when couples first fell in love.” We wanted to create this sense with the Official.
Within the app, we allow couples to check in with each other in multiple ways that promote conversation both on and off the app. We let our users tell their partner how they are feeling, guess how their partner is feeling, and tell their partner they are in the mood.
Official also allows you to discover more things around you to try with your partner from a literal sense like restaurants, concerts, or events, but also at home dates or things to try in the bedroom. We let our couples swipe left for no, right for yes, or up in the intimacy section for maybe, and this creates an opt-in process to indicate what each person wants to do. While it’s simple, it lets couples discover new things that they both want to do.
We also let couples share their dates and experiences privately or publicly. Users post memories within the app to remember what they do with their partner. By posting publicly, couples can show off that crazy exciting or unique date that they did. Official is a community of people who love love; we want to encourage everyone to have the best relationship.
One of the most important things is that we don’t try to make couples feel like they can only communicate on the app. I firmly believe that Official can be an excellent catalyst for communication, but should not be the only way you communicate.
Is there any exclusivity on the app for members? Such as first access to tickets/events/reservations?
We partner with some of the best companies in the world that provide incredible experiences anywhere. We let our users access exclusive discounts on events and experiences near them. We also allow them to 50% off almost any sex toy from our partners. We believe in creating value for each user, which we will continue to do.
What is your biggest tip for couples to stay consistent on the app, planning dates, etc.?
The biggest tip I have is to complete the Daily Question every day. It’s a quick feature, but the value it brings to relationships is massive. We ask you and your partner a new question every day, and if you both answer it, you can see each other’s answers. Our goal is to spark new conversations and let you discover something new about your partner or yourself that you may not have thought to bring up.
I highly recommend the Intimacy Section to have the most fun and check out the craziest sex positions you will ever see… I am still baffled at how some of these are possible.
Do you plan on adding any additional features to the app?
I probably come up with a new feature a week, much to my team’s dismay. There are so many things to come on Official. Our random date generator will plan a date for you using machine learning to understand preferences. We are still in prototype, but I cannot wait until it’s ready for release.
Do you have any tips for readers who may be interested in your app now that they’ve heard of it but are new to this type of app?
Dive in; it’s easy. On Official, you can do anything, but you don’t have to do everything. Use what you think is interesting, and ignore what you don’t. We understand that people communicate in different ways, and that’s why we have an eclectic mix of features to suit any communication style or relationship. I don’t expect every user to use every feature; I just want every user to find value on Official.
What is your favorite feature on the app?
Most likely, it would have to be the In the Mood feature. It is such a unique feature that when I first told people about the idea, they thought I was crazy. We refer to it internally as the “I’m horny button.” The button allows a user to say that they are in the mood, and if their partner hits the button within 12 hours, we send them a notification and let them do whatever their hearts desire. If one hits it and the other doesn’t, we say nothing because we want to promote double opt-in.
What’s next for Official?
This is perhaps my favorite question because I don’t fully know. I have many ideas and ways to take the company, but we will follow what our users want.
I always like to say that we are the first relationship media company. Our focus is couples, but many divergent markets touch relationships, creating the opportunity for Official to expand. My goal is to grow Official to help any relationship you have, whether it’s with your partner, family, friends, or even yourself; Official will be the defacto platform for any relationship in five years. I have a few ideas on how to get there, but I can’t give it all away just yet.
The Television Academy Foundation announced the winners of the 41st College Television Awards, which recognizes and rewards excellence in student-produced programs from colleges nationwide, during a global livestream.
Emulating the EmmyAwards selection process, entries for the College Television Awards were judged by Television Academy members. Top honors and a $3,000 cash prize went to winning teams in five categories:
The Seymour Bricker Humanitarian Award, a $4,000 cash prize given to a College Television Award-winning project that best highlights a humanitarian concern, was awarded to New York University’s Eagles Rest in Liangshan by Bohao Liu. This award was created over 20 years ago by the late entertainment attorney Seymour Bricker.
The 41stCollege Television Awards show is available for VOD viewing HERE.
“Congratulations to all of this year’s winners in television’s most prestigious student competition,” said Cris Abrego, chair of the Television Academy Foundation. “Showcasing the exceptional work of young, diverse talent to help launch careers is a top priority for the Foundation. Our sincerest gratitude to the presenters and sponsors who made this event an unforgettable experience for students.”
Established in 1959 as the charitable arm of the Television Academy, the Television Academy Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacy of television while educating and inspiring those who will shape its future. Through renowned educational and outreach programs, such as The Interviews: An Oral History of Television Project, Student Internship and Fellowship Programs and the Faculty Conference, the Foundation seeks to widen the circle of voices our industry represents and to create more opportunity for television to reflect all of society.
If you’re an active person that’s ever wanted to increase your performance, you should check out Fitbiomics. They’re a small company helping athletes and health-driven people into a better lifestyle by improving gut health with a small, daily capsule. 360 was able to interview their CEO Jonathan Scheiman. Scheiman is a St. John’s and NYU graduate, who did his postdoctoral fellowship at the George Church’s lab at Harvard University.
Can you tell me about your mission?
Our mission is to empower, educate, and elevate. We’re working to inspire and build a world where greatness is possible for everyone by driving transformation from the inside out to maximize human potential. FitBiomics is simultaneously bridging the gap between sports and science, bringing communities together, and inspiring the next generation of scientists. The new frontier of human health & wellness is Nella–a daily capsule of next-gen performance probiotics designed to help anyone pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle to a new frontier of personal best, from the inside out. Nella gives you the guts to defy your limits.
Can you tell me about your probiotic?
With a new subscription price of $59, our daily capsule, Nella, is now easier than ever to add into a daily routine and positively impact health and wellness resolutions for 2022. The one-time purchase price remains at the current price of $75.
The product is manufactured using probiotics sourced from the microbiome of elite endurance athletes. FitBiomics supports that the source of the probiotic strains matters when it comes to athletic performance. The American-made, gluten-free, vegan probiotic is certified by Informed Sport, a service which identifies banned substances.
The Nella probiotic supplement is trusted by elite competitors across the country, including Olympic medalists, professional athletes, and USA record holders. Additionally, FitBiomics is in partnership with and serves as the official probiotic of Fordham University Athletics and St. John’s University Athletics.
What can we expect from your company in the next 6 months? What are your plans?
We have a lot planned as far as partnerships as well as new products in the pipeline. I can sum up the latter in one word: Veillonella. Yes, the lactic acid-eating probiotic that improves endurance and was published in NatureMedicine is in the commercial queue…so stay tuned.
What’s something about your company that people might not know about?
At our heart, we are a biotechnology company focused on continued microbiome R&D. We’re expanding our discovery platform for continued decoding of elite phenotypes to develop additional next-generation probiotics. Our mission is to improve human health and performance, holistically, across multiple functional applications.
“Rence is in his own lane, defying the stigma that an artist has to be bound by any one genre.” – FLAUNT
“In a way that few artists can, Rence has redefined his sound with every new release.” – ONES TO WATCH
“Rence is one of the most promising vocalists in the music industry right now.” – LYRICAL LEMONADE
Critically acclaimed, buzzing singer, songwriter and produce Rence is back today with the heartfelt new single “AWOOO!” Get it HERE via Epic Records.
Hopeful and romantic on the surface, the breakout star’s latest release is actually a breakup song, even if not immediately apparent in the lyrics. “I love when you howl at the moon, I wanna lay here watching you,” the 23-year-old coos over dreamy guitars. “Til I’m howling too, like AWOOO!”
“I actually wrote it as a bookend to a relationship,”Rence says. “But it turned into a love song even as a goodbye.” Somber but full of life and color, “AWOOO!” became about the realization that even true love can fade. It covers the kind of complex emotional territory that Rence has tread since bursting onto the pop music scene while still studying at NYU.
“AWOOO!” follows the exuberant anthem “Endless,” which was released at the top of 2021 and showcases his trademark vulnerability and emotional nuance. With more new music on the horizon, he continues to create a kaleidoscopic pop sound, while experimenting with everything from electro to hip hop.
Over the last few years, Rence has established himself as one of pop’s most unguarded young stars. When he isn’t crafting transparently emotional singles like “Strawberry Blonde” and “Type 2,” he’s lifting the veil on his artistic process in a series of TikTok videos. At the same time, the artist/producer has also stayed busy with collaborations, recording music with Sarah Barrios, Alex Port, Chloe Lilac and Johan Lenox. Since debuting, Rence has amassed more than 50 million cumulative streams and continues to expand his fan base with each release. “AWOOO!” further builds out the emotional complexity and intricate instrumentals at the core of his songs, reminding listeners that there are poignant messages behind every infectious melody.
Sharing real life snapshots in song, Rence magnifies his personal perspective through a genre-less palette, bordering pop, alternative, electro, indie and hip-hop all at once, yet never dipping into one for too long. He first introduced himself on the breakthrough independent project, Pink, featuring standout single “Baby Blue.” In 2019, after signing to Epic Records, he followed with the release of “Expensive” [feat. Noah Cyrus] and his major label debut EP, FALL 2019. Over the last year, his consistent output continued with the bold and buzz-y “hate u, btw,” “Type 2,” “Tears in December,” “Sometimes Things Just Fall Apart,” “Strawberry Blonde” and “Endless.” With over 50 million streams and counting, Rence has received acclaim from the likes of Pigeons and Planes (who named him “Best New Artist” Dec 2019), The FADER, Lyrical Lemonade, Nylon, Billboard, V Magazine, Paper, i-D, Wonderland, Flaunt and Zane Lowe.
Rodney Ramlochan is an executive, entrepreneur, and global business generator who has dedicated his career to empowering others, identifying strategic relationships, and building world-class organizations. Driven by his passion for technology, fashion, lifestyle, and culture, he serves as 360 Magazine’s global business manager. Rodney builds market position for 360 by locating, developing, defining, and closing business relationships with leading brands.
Alongside his role at 360 Magazine, Rodney serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Dev-Byrne & Company, a national technology expense management firm serving premier clients ranging from global not-for-profits to Fortune 500 firms. He is a highly accomplished leader known for laser-like vision in formulating and executing cutting-edge strategies to achieve business goals.
Over the years, Rodney has held multiple roles within the business sector over the past two decades. As Vice-President and co-founder of an award-winning telecom auditing firm, he garnered an elite list of clients, taking the startup from obscurity to highly profitable in under three years. At Verizon, he oversaw large business units responsible for service delivery for enterprise clients.
Rodney completed both undergraduate and graduate degrees, with honors at New York University. He is a published contributing author who has written papers on service delivery and Total Quality Management. In addition, he has served on the Alumni Board Committee of New York University and the chairman of the board for St. Frances Cabrini Academy in Brooklyn, NY.
FLETCHER DEBUTS THE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR EMPOWERED NEW SINGLE HEALING WATCH HERE
FLETCHER debuts the official video for her new single Healing, a powerful anthem to reflect the times, one of self-awareness and discovery. Watch the video HERE and download/stream HealingHERE.
VMagazine said, In stunning new visuals co-directed by Fletcher and Ava Rikki, the rising artist enters a new era. Your next summer anthem has arrived… FLETCHER isn’t just a pop star but an artist and this music video is her testimony. A simplistic trap beat backgrounds (her) airy light vocals as she declares herself on the journey of self love and recovery, unlearning false self perceptions and entering the next phase of a glow-up journey.
Healing finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter reclaiming her interior resolve, making a natural progression from her critically-lauded EP THE S(EX) TAPES, a boldly personal project executive-produced by Malay (Lorde, Frank Ocean). Co-written with Scott Harris (Shawn Mendes, Khalid) and ALDAE (Justin Bieber, Kid Laroi), Healing is rooted in the raw emotional intimacy that FLETCHER is known for and offers her most gripping vocal performance to date.
NME said, ‘Healing’ (is) luminous…An ode to the reclamation of one’s inner strength, the new track shines with a soundscape of warm guitars and summery synth percussion, over which Fletcher boldly embraces her rawness and humanity. Variance declared, If purposeful pop is a thing, FLETCHER’s ‘Healing’ is absolutely it, and Uproxx named the soaring track, Best New Pop Music and said, leaning on a skittering beat, FLETCHER lilts powerful lines about the important of understanding there’s no such thing as a quick fix for your personal problems.
The process of making this song was really freeing, says FLETCHER. We’re all healing from something, she says. The world is healing right now. I can feel the collective energy of people waking up to their power and connecting to themselves in a way that humanity never has before. Healing isn’t a linear process, and it’ll take you on the most insane roller coaster ride of your life. But it’s worth the view at the top.
Currently at work on her debut album, Healing is FLETCHER’s first single since her 2020 hit Bitter, a track that’s amassed over 150 million streams to date. Hailed by Idolator as a breakup anthem for the ages, Bitter is a standout cut from THE S(EX) TAPES, a collection of magnetic and moody pop songs about finding your forever person before you find yourself and, as a result, needing to uncover the parts of you that remain unknown. Soon after arriving last September, the EP earned praise from outlets like Nylon, Teen Vogue, PAPER, SPIN (who noted there aren’t any rules when it comes to FLETCHER’s music) and more.
Praised by leading outlets like TIME, Wonderland, V Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview Magazine, GQ, The Guardian and more, FLETCHER hails from Asbury Park, New Jersey, where she cultivated her passion for music and her unforgettably candid storytelling. After graduating from NYU’s famed Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, FLETCHER carved out a distinct space for herself in pop music, and in 2019 released her debut EP you ruined new york city for me via Capitol Records. The widely lauded EP features her breakthrough hit Undrunk, a track that spent several weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, scored the #1 spot on Spotify’s Viral Chart, emerged as the fastest-rising song at pop radio from a new artist in the past five years, and earned FLETCHER a nomination for iHeartRadio’s Best New Pop Artist. Over the years, FLETCHER has sold out several headline tours and landed impressive slots at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Life is Beautiful, and other major festivals. Released in September 2020, FLETCHER’s EP THE S(EX) TAPES hit No. 1 on iTunes across all genres and drew acclaim from outlets like Teen Vogue, SPIN, PAPER, and many others. An unfiltered look into FLETCHER’s world, the EP is a collection of magnetic and moody pop songs about feeling like you’ve found your forever person before you find yourself and, as a result, needing to uncover the parts of you that remain unknown. The EP’s lead single Bitter has now surpassed 150 million global streams. FLETCHER’s television performances include The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show and Ellen. An outspoken activist of the #MeToo movement throughout her career, FLETCHER released the 2018 track I Believe You in support of sexual assault survivors, garnering over 50 million streams to date. She was also recently nominated for a 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist. One of FLETCHER’s latest tracks, Last Laugh is available now on the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning film Promising Young Woman.
Diversity & Inclusion Research Conference to return for its fourth year.
Researchers, practitioners, corporate leaders and philanthropists share findings and best practices to address today’s most pressing societal issues.
The fourth annual Diversity & Inclusion Research Conference (DIRC21) will take place as a virtual event on November 17-19, 2021. DIRC21 brings together researchers, practitioners, corporate leaders, philanthropists and policymakers to share findings and best practices for today’s most pressing societal issues related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), ranging from health and wealth inequities, to social justice and workplace DEI.
“The inequities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the murder of George Floyd have raised global awareness of the profound impact of one’s personal traits on virtually every facet of our society” said DIRC co-creator Paolo Gaudiano. “DIRC fills a unique and much needed niche, elevating the discourse about DEI beyond qualitative, narrative approaches.”
DIRC21, organized by DEI research nonprofit Aleria Research Corp (ARC) in partnership with the New York University Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity and Strategic Innovation, will be hosted on the Socio virtual event platform, and all content will be available at the DIRC website info page.
Taking full advantage of its virtual format, DIRC21 will combine pre-recorded and live content to give the audience maximum flexibility in accessing the information that is most interesting and useful to them. In addition to a full roster of talks and panels, DIRC21 will feature live workshops, interactive experiences, immersive videos, fireside chats and Q&A sessions, offering every attendee the opportunity to focus on topics of interest to them.
“Our virtual format, which was originally developed out of necessity, has proven to be superior to in-person events in many ways” said Toni Shoola, DIRC co-organizer. “We learned a lot last year, and for DIRC21 we are unveiling even more ways for the audience to gain invaluable knowledge about DEI.”
DIRC will showcase an impressive lineup of speakers and panelists from corporations, foundations, academic institutions, government agencies and other sectors, who will discuss the importance of research as a way of addressing a wide range of societal problems related to DEI, while sharing key findings and best practices.
In alignment with its mission, DIRC21 will introduce novel approaches to share its proceeds equitably with presenters, and will also donate a portion of its revenues to a select group of charitable organizations supporting greater inclusion and equity in our society. For additional information or to purchase single or bulk tickets, please visit the DIRC website.
360 Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marco Shalma, founder of Round Seven Media and MASC Hospitality Group. He is responsible for beginning a food and culture festival in New York called The Bronx Night Market. In this interview, he talks about everything from advice for young entrepreneurs to his favorite food spots in New York.
How did you begin Round Seven Media and why did you decide to start this?
I started in 2013, which was after my education at NYU for undergrad and pursuing a master’s degree in film and tv. Marketing was my passion, and I wanted to run a campaign in a different way. I wanted to use the concept of getting people into the mix of the story and I wanted to get that into a narrative for clients in marketing. In 2013, I sold my shares in restaurant groups and I wanted to begin marketing for myself. I went around and started looking for clients in restaurant and hospitality for about 20 years, which I had experience in. With the explosion of Instagram and technology, it was the perfect time to explore marketing opportunities.
When the company started, the first thing was to go find professional people with a school of thought from film and writing. Our business is known for being a launch campaign for ideas, projects, etc. and we will build an online presence for our clients by finding the key demographic. We are focused on the launch period so our work doesn’t really go further than the six month period.
You also founded MASC Hospitality Group, what made you start another business as well?
MASC Hospitality is one of those situations that happened backward, meaning we first took on the Bronx Night Market project in 2017, which then branched out to many other events that were affiliated with the Bronx Night Market. At one point, we needed to incorporate all of these events, so we decided to create MASC Hospitality Group. If you think about it, MASC Hospitality is a company that basically creates different events while Round Seven Media is the one promoting these events. Sometime around 2018, I started taking fewer clients for Round Seven Media and started adding more of my own companies to Round Seven Media.
What is your favorite event that MASC Hospitality Group is responsible for?
My favorite event hands down is Bronx Night Market. The Bronx Night Market is my baby, it’s a proud moment for me because it came from a vision of bringing something to the Bronx community, my community, that is a prideful event and a reason to be proud of the borrow, without needing to commute to Manhattan or Queens to experience a festival that celebrates culture, cuisine and commerce.
We always say culture, cuisine and commerce because culture encompasses the diversity of the city with so many different flavors, cuisine because this is the grand unifier, everyone can enjoy a meal together no matter what skin tone or nationality and commerce is the idea of creating space for young entrepreneurs and small local businesses to present what they do to a large number of people and promote their business to help them move into the next stage of their success. This encompasses everything we are about, supporting small businesses, young entrepreneurship and of course, good, good food.
Have you encountered any problems while being a business owner for these two organizations?
When you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you always encounter problems. It’s always a matter of hiring the right people, navigating through resources, financing and funding, but mostly it’s identifying and understanding the demographic. I think for me, as a serial entrepreneur, a good idea is a good idea, but you need to identify your key demographic. You need to identify what you do and who it’s for. Then, you work for months or years fine-tuning to make everything connect and basically build a community around your brand.
For example, Round Seven Media is a brand that understands the power of our way of doing business. We are known as one of the top agencies in New York to run launch campaigns for brands because we are dedicated to doing that. With something like The Bronx Night Market, it’s about identifying Bronx-based foodies and people that want to explore offerings and now they have the opportunity to do that in a place where they feel safe, secure and happy. The event is really designed for the community instead of something that could be done anywhere else.
What do you look for in employees that you hire for your company?
We hire on a regular basis, we continuously hire for different projects on behalf of companies. When we finish a launch campaign at Round Seven Media, we like to hire people to replace us, younger people, hungry people that can do social media for those brands. When we look at hiring, the most important thing for us at the moment is consistency and the ability to have a follow-up and a follow-through. I think those are the three very, very important elements because in today’s field of business, having consistency and bringing your A-game every time is something that is critical to the success of any business. I’ve unfortunately had to work with people that can bring 120% one day and 30% the next day. This also has a lot to do with company culture and the idea that you need to create an environment that allows people to be consistent.
Another big part is the ability to follow up and follow through. I can’t even tell you how many times you will be doing things where you need to follow up with clients and partners and sometimes it even takes up to 20 emails. Each and every opportunity for you to accomplish something or to create something if you don’t follow through, you have failed. We are also looking for employees that are super savvy with communications and social media because this is becoming a crucial part of any brand. The ability to understand how media works and how to maximize these services is important to our brand.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like you once were?
If I had to give one piece of advice to young entrepreneurs, it would be to not bite off more than you can chew: focus, focus, focus. I keep seeing a lot of young entrepreneurs that I work with trying to do too much. They try to put on six or seven different hats and be the CEO of the universe at the same time. I always say, focus on the one thing, take your time, become the best in your field and then explore from there. From what I’ve seen, the ability to focus and distill your message and brand into the simplest form and show it to other people such as the investors and partners, showing your dedication to a single idea is the most valuable.
When I used to work on movies, right after grad school, one of the exercises I had that influenced me completely was an exercise of writing a logline for a feature film. You have a script of like 90 pages that you need to turn in to a 25-word logline that will explain exactly what that movie is. It’s almost an impossible mission, but once you start on this, you understand how important the focus is. I now tell people you need to understand your business so well that nothing will get in the way. That’s how you get investors and money.
I know you’re passionate about food, what are some restaurants you would recommend to our readers?
It’s hard to talk about restaurants right now when the restaurant industry is suffering so much. Every day we see another one of my favorite restaurants closing down and the industry is struggling especially when it seems like the industry won’t open soon. I’ll tell you about food in general, as a foodie the most important thing for me is not chasing trends, but a restaurant that has a focused menu, where they know what they’re doing and they’re focused on creating the best experience with a sense of consistency. I know I probably sound like everything is driven like that, but honestly, it’s so important.
Before covid I used to go to a restaurant once a month in West Harlem that used to make the most amazing eggplant pasta, there was also a place I used to go with the most amazing salmon dish and I used to go to another place with the most amazing pad thai. That’s the best thing about living in New York, you get exposed to so much food and you’ll try a lot of trends, but at the end of the day, when you hit something that you know is going to be just as good every time you get it, it becomes the place you go for that dish.
The older I get I realize that’s the most important thing because I want to go back to the restaurant five years later and get the same food and experience. I’m hoping we’ll come out of this soon and be able to go and enjoy restaurants again. Even if you don’t like restaurants and you’re a great cook, you miss sitting down with your friends in a restaurant, eating some food, enjoying a bottle of wine and sharing a good laugh. It’s not about the food, it’s about the experience.
Where do you see yourself going next in your career?
At the moment we are trying to get back to normal life especially with Bronx Night Market and other events that we have. I’m working very hard to define what we can do in public spaces to help restaurants and other brick and mortar restaurants come back to life.
At the moment, I’m really dedicating a lot of my time to working with city and state agencies to create programming that will allow brick and mortar businesses to have more visibility as well as helping small businesses that began at home during the pandemic. I like to call these businesses “homentrepreneurs” and they will need a place for their businesses outside to get more traction in the community once the pandemic is over.
I am taking my experience within marketing and media, my ability to push forth different agendas and my ability to plan different activities to bring these skills to neighborhoods around New York and support these businesses and give a place for new entrepreneurs to grow outside of their homes. This is something I have been very excited about for a few months.
After Covid is over, are there any events you would hope for the MASC Hospitality Group to execute?
Help New Yorkers get back to normal as soon as possible. Possibly that will be creating open-air markets and events relating to many different niches, and just to let New Yorkers come to celebrate returning to normalcy. After covid, trying to figure out with different partners how to help businesses survive the next few months and thrive as soon as we get out of this crisis. This has been a focus for us to do. We have seen way too many friends of ours close shop and disappear.