As we often say, look outside of higher education for innovation and inspiration which is why the Render Experiences team have long been fans of the Fast Company Innovation Festival. Render's Brittney Joyce and Dani Napier spent a full week in New York City learning and experiencing, and we're now bringing all that knowledge to you. Stay alert for blogs and podcasts for more of our insights from #FCFestival. 

What did we learn from sessions and brands that presented? Below is a quick breakdown of a few and how you can translate their expertise.

Stadium Goods

What: A streetwear and premium sneaker marketplace selling sought-after footwear, apparel, and hard-to-find items. 

We heard: Never underestimate the value of nostalgia of adults who are tracking down the special Air Jordans they couldn’t have as a kid. 

Translation: Recognize alumni who’ve brought back their children to visit your campus with a lanyard/name badge, small gift, or sticker they can wear on tour. 

Buzzfeed News

What: As Buzzfeed moves into more original content with video, they’ve branched into news reporting with shows like “AM to DM.” 

We heard: Their shows value audience engagement, so they never wait until the end a show to answer questions. They constantly review Twitter throughout a segment and answer questions as they come in.

Translation: Have someone on standby in your office to answer questions as they arise on tour. You can do this via an email address, text, Twitter account. Think about how other businesses too have already moved into this place too (@Delta for Delta Assist on Twitter). 

Making our own beer blend at Anheuser Busch!

Making our own beer blend at Anheuser Busch!

Anheuser Busch

What: Anheuser Busch is dipping their toe into the craft brewery market by supporting the research and development of small breweries and their products.

We heard: Master Brewer and 10Barrrel Brewing (Oregon) researcher and developer Tonya Cornett said she creates new beer flavors and combinations by always keeping her eyes open and diving into experiences while traveling, then bringing those back to her team in Oregon. She tours other breweries, goes to gourmet markets and buys unique ingredients, and taste-tests new beers and foods with her team every day. 

Translation: Invest in taking your campus visit teams to companies who offer solid experiences: IKEA, Build-A-Bear, Starbucks, American Girl. Spend time debriefing afterward about what you loved, what you didn’t, and what you can learn to apply to your visit program. 

Bark! & Co. 

What: The parent company that designs innovative and fun dog toys, most popularly sold in their “Bark Box” subscription service. 

We heard: They always design with the dog in mind, and dog parents are a secondary audience. If the toys aren’t fun, engaging, and interesting to the dog first, they’ll move on (no matter how many times an owner tries to reintroduce the toy). 

Translation: Kind of obvious, right? Prospective students come first. You can’t ignore parents, but they have a different set of wants and needs. Design your visit with a 17-year-old in mind. 

A room full of band merch at Bravado, ranging from the Rolling Stones to Bob Marley.

A room full of band merch at Bravado, ranging from the Rolling Stones to Bob Marley.


What: The cross-section of fashion and merchandise, this company brings a music artist’s brand past the concert and into the mainstream.

We heard: Digital streaming meant the record industry took a major hit in record sales. Looking for a way to gain that money back, Bravado started monetizing the rights to merchandise and further increasing the brand of the artist. Then they expanded those touch-points out of the concert arena and made pop ups and placed merchandise in major department stores. This creates a physical extension of the brand to give fans an emotional connection.

Translation: Is your merchandise or swag an extension of your brand? Or is it just another item to give away?

P.S. We published a Halloween episode of Render's Experiences! For all things spooky, click here.