One Spark Pro Tips

Some helpful hints from a previous One Spark creator

So, you’re all ready for One Spark. You have your grand project ready, you’ve attended the creator acadamy, your juices are flowing, and you’re registered–at least, hopefully you’re registered, since the deadline was February 25th (which also happens to be my birthday). Now that you’re ready to send your dream rover down from the clouds for a little exploration on the surface of planet reality, perhaps I can give you a little heads up on what to expect once you’re there. Bear in mind, I’m not just writing this as a journalist covering the event, but as a past creator. My wife and I had our own project entered in the inaugural One Spark in 2013; HyperFizzics brand energy drink: Brain Booster/Energy Elixir for “The Nerd in You.” ( We were even in the Official Inaugural One Spark documentary. Yes, HyperFizzics still alive and kicking. The name is now trademarked and complete with a UPC code and bottler, but only now are we even close to being able to launch a proper launch party.

One-Spark-logoWhatever your success in One Spark (and we did fairly well), these things take time. Remember that. This is only beginning, literally one spark (my father would call it a “kick in the ass”), not the be-all and end-all of your business. It gives you a hard deadline and a guaranteed audience for your idea. Give it your best effort, have fun with it, and be proud that, wherever your creation goes, it got its humble start right here in your hometown of Jacksonville. That said, here are some pro tips that you may find helpful in your endeavour as a One Spark creator.

Use Your Allotted Space: You’d be amazed at how many people in the designated creator spaces around me didn’t show up in their spot even once during the entire festival. Man your station, dude. Trust me, even during times when it seems like no one is walking around the festival, suddenly a school field trip group will come along and spend a lot of time checking out your project–cause you’re the only one there–and suddenly you cherry pick 30 or so votes for your project. Score! You paid for the space. Use it or lose it. Which brings me to my next tip…

Use Other People’s Allotted Space: Hey, if someone is not using his space, and it’s more advantageous than yours at a given time, go ahead and use it yourself. Before you think this is against the rules, One Spark actually encourages creators to use other creator’s unused plots. Think about it, One Spark wants everyone to succeed, and the festival isn’t going to be very festive with a bunch of empty creator spaces, now is it? Some of those spaces are even covered by one of those big, fancy, expensive rented tents for when it’s too hot or raining. Bonus!

Go Where the People Are: I’ve always been one to follow the life philosophy of “going where they ain’t.” This mindset is a great asset when you are creating your project, but not so much when presenting it. There’s nothing in the One Spark rules that demands you stay in one place. Send out a scout from your team to draw people to your booth and gather rogue votes. Also, why not take a mini-version of your set-up to a place of high potential voter volume? For instance, this year’s event will feature the first ever One Spark 5K run on the morning of April 11th, One Spark After Dark parties will again take place at the Jax Chamber, and people love to show up early and in droves at Hemming Plaza on the final day to hear the top vote tallies–and sometimes a lot of them show up before voting is disabled. Hint, hint, hint…

Don’t be a Douche: This works two ways. First, be cool and help cross promote creators that you like. Not all of them–you don’t want to cheapen your endorsement–but thoughtfully select a few projects that you admire and can perhaps tie-in with and meet up and agree to help each other out a little. This raises all ships, and that’s really what this thing is all about. Second, please don’t enter some BS project that you don’t intend to give any love to during the festival just to score some weed money. Sure, you can technically do that, I suppose, but some people are out there pouring their souls into this stuff, and it’s really just…not cool.

Engage People: Come up with an interesting spectacle to draw people to your table. In other words, don’t be boring. It is, after all, a festival. For example, when I did One Spark for HyperFizzics, we had an entire laboratory set-up with erlenmeyer flasks filled with colored water and dry ice gas pouring out of them. We also wore lab coats and served our drink samples in test tubes. It turned out to be a relatively inexpensive way to get people interested in what we were doing. Some creators went as far as to have fire-eaters in front of their displays. Whatever floats your boat, just get eyes on your creation because, ultimately, YOU are the entertainment. Once you do have interested parties approaching you, don’t forget to actually, you know, talk to them. So many times I’d see creators attending their booths as they were transfixed on their digital distractions and ignoring interested voters. Get your head out of your cell phone for a few hours–the world’s out here pal.

Fill out Your Dumb Tax Form: Sure, it’s drab and tedious, but it’s a necessary evil that will also expedite the delivery of your hard-earned crowdsourcing funds to you, if you get them turned in early.

For more info on the particulars, go to Happy Sparking!

About Richard David Smith III

writer, lab rat, and purveyor of fine energy drinks. pro Oxford comma.