Have you met our user research partner: Ben Culpin?

Since Ben has been in our office for over a few months now, we would like to briefly introduce him to you. Perhaps you’ve already seen the kickoff of our new project: a 3 minute film called ‘Solitude’. In the next few months, Ben will help us to create 5 short documentaries about how technology can affect our social connections. An exciting research and film project that we explain more in our blog post about ‘Solitude’. For the Dutch version, click here.

For the past 5 years, Ben has lived and worked in Amsterdam as a ‘strategic planner’ within advertising. After years of developing strategies for large brands, he recently started to feel a desire to make things again. Thoughts that made him reconsider his (working) life. He quit his job and took off for a 6 month sabbatical. During the trip of a lifetime, he sailed a yacht around Scotland, road a motorbike to Spain, and lived in Cape Town for 2 months. He also found the time to exercise his self-taught video skills and created a film about Yoga.

Ben returned to Amsterdam with only one goal: to make the stuff he loves. Stuff that inspires people and delivers meaning, for himself as well as for others. In times when everything can be Googled, he believes in the power of in-depth user research.

Talking to real people and capturing all their subtle nuances on film.

These are the experiences he wants to share with the world, in order to engage people, businesses and brands. Which is where his ambitions meet ours.

As a digital agency, we spend so much time and love in software development, we sometimes get caught up in the details. It helps us in making great products, but it also reminds us of how important it is to step back sometimes and do some research for ourselves. We’ve decided to dive a little deeper into the lives of the people we’re making products for: our users. How do they feel about technology, what inspires them, and what makes them afraid? Together with Ben, we have started this research project to answer those questions. And to share them with the world in the Lifely-est way possible.

Ben got just as excited as we do. “Working with Lifely enables me to be strategically minded throughout an entire process, not just at the beginning of a project. Partnering up with Lifely, I not only get to find and protect the ‘why’, but I also get to be involved in the ‘making’ aspect of things. I’m creative and conceptual in nature, so I love working on this project with Nick and Janna.

With Lifely believing in my approach, I am convinced that we can make both meaningful and beautiful stuff.

When we started to talk with Ben about our mutual drive to deliver research through film, we came up with the following plan. In the next few months, we will make 5 short documentaries in which we will uncover an ‘extraordinary world’ that exists across age groups within our life cycle, from early life stages to old age. Think about teen friendships in the world of online gaming, or finding love in the world of online dating. We see this as an opportunity to learn about our users, while making beautiful films that help others understand the digital world around us.

In explaining why Ben is the excellent person to explore this world with us, we have to go all the way back to a place called St. Andrews, the little town in which Ben grew up. Located northeast of Edinburgh, right across the water, St. Andrews is known for its impressive number of golf courses. It is also the town where Prince William went to University, in fact, the same university where Ben’s father worked as a professor in French literature.

Ben was pretty young when he moved to St. Andrews, and it was hard for him to fit in. Imagine, going to a school where you don’t have the same accent as your peers, along with many other cultural differences that make you feel out of place. Ben had to deal with this from a young age and he struggled to become part of the group, and to be accepted in this new environment. Little did he know how useful this experience would be later in life.

At the age of 18, Ben crossed the Atlantic Ocean to explore New York and experience a new way of life. But New York turned out to be only the first in a series of new home towns. With a drive to know more about the world, Ben went on to live in Barcelona, Paris, York, Hong Kong, Leeds and London, before ultimately arriving in Amsterdam. He studied Business Management and did a masters in Advertising and Design. Along the way he’s learnt new languages, inspired others, and adapted to numerous cultures.

Ben has a unique approach to culture, being somewhat outside of it, but simultaneously having the ability to become part of it. Living abroad for so many years has left him with a skill set that has turned out to be very valuable in life. Ben is naturally very analytical, asks good questions, and also manages to make people feel comfortable. In other words, his life-long experiences of difference combined with his sensitive demeanour open people up.

We see it happening with every person he approaches. Ben doesn’t impose himself on people, he observes and listens. He doesn’t steal attention, he earns it. But he is not only great in connecting, he is also smart and very motivated to make this project a great success. Which is exactly why we love to work with him.

Thanks Ben! Great to have you on board.

Wij zijn Lifely, een digital agency, al voelt dat wel een beetje als stoer doen op het schoolplein. Wat zijn we dan? We zijn een clubje mensen die heel veel van productontwikkeling houden. Het komt erop neer dat we het tof vinden om bij Lifely te werken, onze klanten blij met ons zijn en de werksfeer niet anders te omschrijven is dan ‘chill’.

Nick de Bruijn

Founder & Strategist

Benieuwd naar hoe je in het leven van een kleine jongen met een kite naar co-founder van een mediabureau gaat? Wij hebben het in deze blogpost over Nick, de kunstenaar van Lifely als het aankomt op foto, video en concept.

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