LongBeachPost-logo-300x77The presence of Markus Manley can still be felt—and may always be felt—at WE Labs, as it not only continues to grow without him but as more and more concepts and ideas that he had his hand in begin to come to fruition. And the TAFF expo is no exception.

Standing for technology, art, fashion, and food, TAFF creator Zahir Wahid sat at WE Labs late one evening and realized that the fusion of art and technology are more seamless than most make it out to be.

“The two are kinda inherently tied to one another,” Wahid said, “and with the absence of the TED Talks, I felt there was a void that needed to be filled.”

Founder,  Zahir Imhotep Wahid

It was then that Wahid ran into Manley’s office to pitch his idea—and Manley, per usual, pitched it right back, telling Wahid that he should not only develop the idea but develop it with others through Pitch Fridays.

Pitch Fridays—one of Manley’s last creations—is a simple concept. An every-other-Friday casual gathering for $5 to use the WE Labs space freely in order to generate ideas. Once a month, a panel featuring a venture capitalist, a vetted tech industry person, a marketing guru, and a lawyer participate to vet and sort through ideas.

“Long Beach isn’t the type of city big business should just move into,” Manley once told the Post. “We need to build our own creative industries so that, in the future, profitable and sustainable businesses come from Long Beach.”

Realizing he would have to present his idea to a group of essentially strangers, Wahid spent the next four days and nights building up what would eventually become the TAFF Expo, which included talks on 3D printing, culinary advancements, fashion, technology and more.

After engaging questions with people simultaneously challenging and supporting his vision, he set up an EventBrite page—only to discover that 100 people instantaneously responded that they would attend. For Wahid, this showed not only that people wanted to show off Long Beach talent, but that Manley’s love for mixing creatives and business-minded folk was essential to economic growth.

“I had planned on hosting it at WE Labs—but that quickly became impossible since more and more people became interested,” Wahid said. “It was both humbling and exciting that people agreed with me: Long Beach wants to harness its creative gravity, to allow everyone—creatives, entrepreneurs, small businesses—to promote one another.”

Having moved the event to the Long Beach Public Auditorium off of Pacific Ave., TAFF now has 600 people registered for an event that will have vendors, panels, live demos, and workshops discussing everything from the aforementioned 3D printing to mobile technology to augmented reality. Representatives from local joints—Localism!, Long Beach Indie, Sand Box Social Club—to much more larger organizations—Yelp!, Gratafy, Tap & Cheer—will be on hand to talk all things urban.

Sticking true to the notion that sharing ideas should be accessible, entrance into the expo is free, unless you want to throw down a reasonable ten bucks to have access to the Metropolitan Design-furnished VIP room for some relaxation, drinks, and soul food grub.

“The mission is simple, man: to show off the creative, tech, and culinary communities within Long Beach,” Wahid said.


Credit: Brian Addison for the Long Beach Post