So, as we said yesterday we attended a special 'Swatchbox Gathering' event last night on the eve of the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show here in Chicago. We went as guest speakers at the invitation of the guys at Swatchbox Technologies, who we got to know over drinks a few hours before the dinner.
Andrew Jenks (center right) and Jesse Engle (right) are the President and VP of Business Development, respectively, for Swatchbox and are really great guys. The chat gave us some time to get to know them a bit and to hear about their work--they've done some interesting things with their clients to develop software that helps consumers visualize home improvement ideas like flooring, paint options, etc.
After a while we headed downstairs to the basement of the Chicago Firehouse where they'd reserved the wine cellar for the dinner.
At this point we should disclose that we weren't paid by anyone to attend--in fact, we even paid for our own dinner! We weren't obligated to Swatchbox in any way, which was nice since it allowed us to say whatever we wanted to the group about what we thought houseblogging means for retailers and traditional publishers.
And speaking of participants, there were some really interesting folks there. Actually, the diversity of the group was probably what made for some intriguing discussion--a mix of clients and business acquaintances that included publishers like This Old House and Merideth (the Better Homes and Gardens folks), manufacturers like Valspar paints and DuPont, and marketing professionals like Resource Interactive and SFC Graphics.
Lots of them had come to Chicago for KBIS, but it was fun to meet some new local contacts too--Jeanne and I both enjoyed talking to the president of Kitchens.com, which is headquartered in the Chicago area:
As for the talk itself, we enjoyed it quite a bit so we're hoping everyone else thought it was enlightening. A few highlights:
The conversation was pretty lively, so we really got as much out of it as anyone. It was strange to be two homeowners in a room full of home improvement execs.. What made it work seemed to be that many of them were genuinely interested in how blogs are changing media.
After we spoke, folks hung around for quite awhile. Later in the evening, a few of the final photos got a bit blurry...which I'm sure was the lighting and didn't have anything to do with the open bar.
Anyway, that's it for the event. We're looking to keep in touch with the Swatchbox folks--they were definitely good people and are pretty interested in how the tools they specialize in fit with blogging. We told them we were equally interested in the kind of tools that can make home improvement planning (and houseblogging!) easier.
Well, we're off to the Kitchen and Bath show so this post really needs to end...more to come from the show floor!