Amanda Slavin, 29, is a former schoolteacher whose career trajectory changed—but kept its community-minded mission—when she met Zappos C.E.O. Tony Hsieh at a conference.
Soon after, she launched CatalystCreativ in 2012 with the mission to bring people together for a free, public event series as part of the Downtown Project, the well-funded Hsieh-led program intended to help revitalize downtown Las Vegas.
Through the company over the past two and a half years, she’s brought marquee speakers for the entrepreneur-focused Catalyst Week, as well as the arts- and entertainment-minded Creativ Week each month. She’s currently looking for ways to evolve those programs in a new format going forward, but the commitment to the mission of revitalizing downtown remains core to the group’s mission. Her team, of about 10 people based all around the country, also produces offline and online campaigns for brands.
In order to help audience members share CatalystCreativ events’ messages far and wide, Slavin created her own so-called “metrics of engagement” tool, which she conceived in graduate school as part of a thesis project with colleagues. Now, she says, “We utilize this system for every experience CatalystCreativ implements. There are seven levels of engagement including disengagement, frustrated engagement, literate thinking, and critical engagement to name a few. When we create an experience or strategy for a brand to engage millennials, we utilize these levels as the foundation for our success.”
Slavin’s group has also just launched a new app known as Catalyst Connect. She describes it as “like a Tinder for passions and expertise.” It has just rolled out in Vegas, and allows visitors who come to see the Downtown Project to meet people from small businesses, tech companies, Zappos, and other entities by searching for similar passions. It will also be available for any previous Catalyst Week attendee for other cities. There is a messaging functionality, maps, and an internal mini-feed.
And Slavin’s group continues to think big. “We have such an amazing team at CatalystCreativ and have built a remarkable company together,” she says. “Our collective dream is to take Catalyst internationally and to work with large-scale brands that understand the value-add of engaging millennials through inspirational experiences.”
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