RSVP: Challenge Festival Closing Party Hosted by iStrategyLabs

Challenge Festival Banner

If you’ve experienced DCWEEK or SMWWDC, you know iSL can throw a party.  The 1776 Challenge Festival will be no exception.  Come celebrate the end to an awesome week in the nation’s capital — an evening full of festivities and recognition of the innovative solutions and incredible startups aimed at solving the world’s greatest challenges.


WhereIdeaSpace // Located at 300 Tingey St SE, Washington DC 20003

When: May 17th // 7pm – 3am.


>Meet the (3) finalists of the Challenge Festival and see their (award) winning products

>Experience live art by No Kings Collective

>Dance the night away to our DJ // Live Music

>Mingle and make friends in the #DCTECH community

> Make new connections and build on the old.

> Hang out at the up-and-coming IdeaSpace — a unique space for thinkers, makers, and doers to be inspired, learn, collaborate, create, and build.

> Celebrate our thriving #DCTECH community.

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IdeaSpace 1

IdeaSpace 2

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GE Garages DC Opens – Remake The Capital With Your Fellow Innovators!


Are you a maker, hacker, tinkerer or innovator of some kind? If so you’re going to love GE Garages DC.

From March 21 to – April 9th, GE is opening up a hands-on maker space pop-up right in the Golden Triangle area of downtown DC (map).

The full calendar is here – register FAST before everything books up. Use #Garages2014 for live updates.

iStrategyLabs will be powering several sessions including a Founders Forum, Entrepreneur & Investor Panel (RSVP), and several design/build sessions where people will create a Weather Clock. GE has also graciously sponsored this month’s DC Tech Meetup where over 800 people will come out to see demos by early stage start-ups.

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In the past iStrategyLabs has worked with GE on their Garages Program at SXSW. If you haven’t see it yet – have a look at the GE Social Fridge we built and the full GE Garages experience, powered by the Sub Rosa crew:

GE Garages DC













Announcing: The Challenge Festival – A Disruptive Startup Experience


1776_challengeFestival_logoWhen we started DCWEEK back in 2010 and grew it from 0 to 12,000 attendees we knew the demand for connectivity among innovators in the nation’s capital was insatiable.

We also knew that even at that level, we were thinking too small – so we sunset DCWEEK in order to make room for something bigger. Today, we’re happy to announce that The Challenge Festival is exactly that “bigger thing”.

All the info you could want is on the festival website here and you can see the full festival deck below.

1776 is the creator and lead producer for the festival, and iStrategyLabs is responsible for all design/dev and for producing a massive, 2000-3000 person closing party on May 17th. If you want to know more about sponsorship opportunities just hit me up at or email our CMO, DJ Saul, at See you out there!

Welcome to the Challenge Festival from 1776

RobotsConf 2013 Recap


The inaugural RobotsConf event was held on Dec 6th-7th at Amelia Island, Florida. As a whole, the event aimed to be “A Software Developer’s Hardware Conference,” bringing software developers of all backgrounds (skill levels, programming languages, and yes even editor choice) together to interact with each other and build inventive projects — by all accounts it was an incredible success. We had the pleasure of attending and running a workshop highlighting the skills of wiring, soldering, and prototyping. While this may sound a bit dry, it actually afforded us the opportunity to see all of the other conference goers build their awesome projects throughout the course of the weekend.

As a wrap up to the conference we wanted to highlight a couple of the coolest things that we experienced.


Tech Recap

One really awesome component of RobotsConf was all of the available technology.  Not only was there a bounty of the latest gadgets on display, but all attendees were given free developer kits, which held various items including an Arduino Uno, a LeapMotion, and a Spark Core. Throughout the weekend we came across an array of items such as the Oculus Rift, BeagleBone boards, XBee shields, Tessel prototypes, Spheros, and even quadcopters. While we use Arduinos almost exclusively for our projects at ISL, it was really interesting to see how much of a de facto standard it was (and is) for other developers.

RobotsConf gave us the opportunity to interact with a Spark Core for the first time.  The Spark Core is a very small, wifi-enabled development board similar to Arduino in both its look and feel (aside from the different chipset on the board). We found the biggest benefit to be that Spark Core comes with on-board wifi that works! This has been a big pain point during many of ISL’s recent projects. If you want internet, you need to use an ethernet shield, which tethers you.

All conference attendees received one of these devices in their gift bags and the Spark Core promptly became the go-to device for getting things up and running throughout the event. As the Spark Core was used widely during the conference many perks were quickly discovered. For example, the learned possibility to remotely flash new firmware onto the board over the internet. In fact, the editor of choice is the web-based IDE from which you can deploy the code to the board with just the click of a button — Awesome! Once this was discovered people in the room immediately started creating easily accessible libraries for the Spark Core including a node.js library, a web-based tool and a cylon.js library.

Community Recap

In its inaugural year, RobotConf boasted an extremely impressive spectrum of speakers and attendees.  The roughly 150 people present represented Denmark, Columbia, Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Myanmar, Australia, and almost every state in America.  Of these 150 people 35% were non-male.  Even though it was a first-time conference, that statistic speaks volumes about its viability moving forward.

One of the most riveting keynotes during the conference came from a 12 year old girl and her father. Sylvia (@MakerSylvia) and James Todd (@techninja42) are a father-daughter team that worked together to build a watercoloring robot. A WATERCOLORING ROBOT! They even had the opportunity to show it off to President Obama at the White House Science Fair. The team’s energy was infectious and set the tone for the rest of the conference as everyone else then went on to build with great excitement.

The workshops, which were used for building, had the truest and most amazing sense of community.  While there were experts on site to help create bots, it was really the other attendees who offered their assistance and expertise to fellow conference-goers that kept things moving with great ease.  The camaraderie was unparalleled to any conference I had ever been to before. We came across people teaching one another everything from soldering to coding. It was truly fantastic to see people acting in a fashion befitting a community.

Science Fair

One of the best moments of the conference was the presentation of the final products at the Science Fair. A panel of judges walked around the room talking to individuals and teams asking about what they had built. Many people where just happy to have gotten a robot built, while others boasted some more impressive bots. Some of the crazier projects we came across were a third person camera that follows you around using an Oculus Rift, a quiz game tug of war in which a Sphero moves slowly towards the winner, a LeapMotion controlled water glass playing machine, and a facial detection robot that uses RaspberryPi. The father-daughter team from before? They made a dog rescuing quadcopter (seen below).


We had a great time at RobotsConf and hopefully we’ll be a fixture in conferences to come. We get to do some really amazing things here at ISL everyday working on projects like Redds, Nickelodeon, Redskins, and the GE Fridge, and it was really great to get to meet up with a group of likeminded people looking to make amazing things together.


Header image from MAKE

Gmail crashes: The world ends and social media explodes


What happens when the most widely used web-based email provider goes down hard (since 2012)? The connected world tumbles into an existential crisis which is voiced through other internet-connected outputs. Here is a glimpse of how the world reacted on Twitter when Gmail went down:


Mentions exploded:

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Sentiment about Gmail/Google dropped dramatically:

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Thousands of snarky tweets were made:

Betty White Tweet

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gmail tweet


I did this:


And then it came back up and everyone pretended like it never happened and we aren’t all unhealthily attached to our email accounts.