Digital DUMBO On The Rise: Meet Kaitlin Villanova and Andrew Zarick

Digital DUMBO On The Rise: Meet Kaitlin Villanova and Andrew Zarick

PSFK talks to Digital Dumbo's lead organizers about innovation and creativity in the growing neighborhood.

Plus Aziz
  • 26 january 2011

Digital Dumbo is a networking party well attended by innovators, technologists, and some of the most entrepreneurial minds in New York City. To kick off our series of interviews, we start with Carrot Creative‘s Kaitlin Villanova and Digital Strategy Consultant Andrew Zarick, discussing their event and shed some insight on one of Brooklyn’s creative neighborhoods.

What does the DUMBO area of Brooklyn mean to you?

AZ: The DUMBO area of Brooklyn represents innovation, creativity and commerce.

KV: DUMBO is New York City’s hidden treasure, which is ironic as finding treasure requires you to dig for it – and that’s exactly what is happening in DUMBO – construction! However, once the renovations are complete it will be a more polished version of the thriving artistic and innovative community that commutes and lives here.

How did DUMBO become what it is today? Give us some insight into the history behind its coming to being.

AZ: The neighborhood that is now known as DUMBO was born out of the manufacturing industry, notably Brillo pads and cardboard. The area was gentrified and revitalized by the creative spirit of artists which gave it it’s name. Now out of the roots of this creative spirit digital innovation is taking form through a new wave of entrepreneurs, influencers, and creators.

KV: Big Spaceship moved here a few years ago and since then companies like Huge, Etsy, The Knot, and my employer Carrot Creative, have taken up space and significantly contributed to the culture of the charming but still badass Brooklyn neighborhood. Everyday I hear of a notable brand or Technology platform moving to the hood.

What’s a local company you feel everyone should know about? Elaborate on why you think this company is innovative.

AZ: TuneCore (Disclosure: they are a client). DUMBO was first known for its artists. TuneCore is completely disrupting the way the music industry operates by allowing musicians to easily distribute their music to iTunes and other digital music marketplaces without needing a label, while letting artists keep 100% of their royalties and all of their rights. This technology is allowing more artists the opportunity to be heard, allowing more music to be consumed, and ultimately putting more artists in business for themselves. This technology complete removes the barrier to entry for artists to bring their music to market. TuneCore’s technology is a strong representation of not only a product that is truly innovative but also supports the artistic spirit of DUMBO.

KV: Etsy – they are at the heart of creativity enabling craft makers across the world to buy/sell handmade goods. Etsy is an exemplary brand for the Dumbo community as they are engaged with the community offering weekly craft events, and with technology building an efficient and functional platform with supreme user experience. Digital DUMBO has yet to get them as a sponsor but we think they would be a great fit.

Where is DUMBO going/ Where would you like to see DUMBO go?

AZ: Beyond digital, many businesses and storefronts are finding a home in the area. While there is a significant amount of commercial real estate in DUMBO, there are plans to convert some of the commercial real estate into residential. I hope that the areas residents, business owners, and artists can find middle ground and create a work, life, art, and commerce dynamic that is unparalleled anywhere else in NYC or perhaps the world.

KV: DUMBO is now on the map, literally the NYC MTA recently added DUMBO in place of Fulton Landing on the subway map. I think that speaks volumes to the direction this community is going. I want Dumbo to continue to be the digital hub – the humble, cool-as-shit, quirky area of New York that makes me love coming to work here everyday.

Anything else to add?

AZ: If DUMBO were to ever have a mayor, I nominate Jimmy McMillan. Well, because, you know why.

KV: Best coffee in the hood: Dumbo General Store. Also, the majority of places in this neighborhood are CASH ONLY so beware.

Digital Dumbo


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