AKQA Creates Product Director Role to Help Clients Innovate

Entrepreneur Zac Park will bring experimental ideas to market

AKQA has hired Zac Park in the new role of product director, where he'll work with the agency to accelerate clients' connected product and service development programs.

The 26-year-old entrepreneur will also focus on AKQA's Future Academy, a technology apprenticeship, and Future Lions, the shop's global student competition at Cannes. Park's mandate in working with both of these initiatives is to take projects from experimental ideas to commercial reality.

"We see ourselves as a platform for talent. With some of these ideas, we want to make them commercial and bring them to market," explained Simon Jefferson, managing director at AKQA. "We wanted to bring in someone with relevant experience and make these a commercial reality. Zac has worked on consumer products, connected products, e-commerce and has also worked with manufacturing."

Park was the co-founder of a small watch e-commerce site, Zeniick, when he was studying behavioral science at the University of Utah four years ago. He went on to other entrepreneurial ventures, including the marketing and product fund Madefund, which he co-founded three years ago. There he raised more than $7 million on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and launched 10 e-commerce companies and crowdfunding campaigns. The businesses have since grown to $35 million in online sales, he said.

This is Park's first time working in the agency world, and he said that while his top priority in the new San Francisco-based job is helping clients innovate, he is also attracted to the opportunities at Future Academy and Future Lions. "I totally understand how the end consumer thinks and how to create a product they'll like," he said.

While AKQA has yet to commercially market any of its internally generated concepts, Jefferson expects to do so after hiring Park. Among the leading candidates is a connected birdhouse, which uses technology to help threatened city birds, and "Soundflake," a service that lets people create a one-of-a-kind, 3-D printed snowflake by using their voice. The agency is still determining how to handle intellectual property ownership.

"Some are digital products we can develop and build with our people," Jefferson said. "For others, like the connected products, we'll use both venture capital and crowdfunding. We want to change the way we behave and think of ourselves as an organization."


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