With two decades of management and consulting experience, I am uniquely qualified to partner with small-businesses, start-ups and non-profit clients as an executive-for-hire or consultant to advise, strategize, manage and implement and execute on your mission or business model.
My key areas of expertise include: marketing (online and off-line), product development (including software/apps/web), business development, sponsors and foundations, IP, licensing and partnerships, programming (non-profit) and content (branded artists, creative asset generation).
I will get my hands dirty working closely with you and your team(s) and provide relevant insights to help you get where are going. How we structure the relationship and my role is something we work out together.
Experience: I have directed, partnered and consulted with small businesses, including start-ups and growth companies and with non-profits to develop and implement the vision, business and marketing strategy, product development (including software), marketing collateral (including websites) and to build relationships with corporations, universities, foundations, boards and government. I have negotiated licensing deals, sponsorships and partnerships. I have developed and worked with legal on IP.
Clarity: I can help you clarify where you are going and help you gain consensus among all of your stakeholders. It’s important to know what to do and in what order as well as how to allocate resources.
Differentiation: I can help you articulate your uniqueness or vision as well as articulate the benefits and value of your product, service, initiative or mission.
Collaboration: I will work closely with you on idea, strategy and tactical execution. I listen and reflect back to you, giving you focus while also bringing a fresh perspective and ideation to your undertaking.
Passion: I will take on your brand or mission as my own and live it with you, fully engaged.
Network: I have a deep and ranging network that spans a variety of creative disciplines, designers, engineers, cultural anthropologists, new-media journalists, academics and more. I bring my network to bear as needed.
Agile Processes: Tight timelines and limited budgets are familiar realities.
Success: At R&D2 I have guided clients to get their ideas off the ground, take them to the next level or reach full execution.
I am Richard Appelbaum and I have held leadership positions working with and for start-ups, technology companies, business ventures and non-profits spanning 20+ years. I was CEO of Mixman Technologies for 12 years and Board Chair of sf|noir for nine. R&D2 has allowed me to lead, develop, and partner on a variety of interesting projects and ventures.
I am an idea person – creative and practical. I care about the world and seek opportunities that engage my broad interests and that best leverage my skill-sets and experience. I gain the most satisfaction from helping clients to grow and realize their own inspirations.
I have experience with consumer facing products and services. I have led the development and launch of websites and software. I have negotiated licensing deals with major brands, tech companies and record labels. I have employed varying business models from retail sales to affiliate, subscription and recurring revenue. I have managed branding for demographics spanning kids, women’s lifestyle, sports, social advertising to EDM club fans.
I have consulted for organizations with diverse missions, including social-justice, arts and alternative-health-and-wellness. My participation has spanned the acquisition of donors, sponsors, grants and fiscal agents as well as branding, web development, marketing, and audience building. I have managed relationships with entities from community to funders. I have leveraged my network to bring people and resources to bear on programming content and educational activities. I spearheaded a major work-skills and training initiative and online platform.
Closed multiple six and seven figure licensing deals with Silicon Valley tech companies.
Obtained six-figure foundation grant to develop interactive online training-platform.
Incorporated, formed board, developed affiliate program and created key social marketing strategies for women’s lifestyle brand.
Re-branded and led web-development and developed marketing strategy for award winning children’s book series and materials for librarians, teachers and parents.
Secured corporate sponsorships and foundation grants, developed strategies for audience expansion and retention, supervised two website redesigns and procured program content for SF-based presenting arts non-profit.
Launched scores of SKUs of software, multiple boxed product, web-launches and branded artist content for online and retail brick and mortar.
The most important thing in working with a prospective client is to listen and learn what it is they are trying to accomplish. I am always curious. I bring focus, creativity and analytical thinking to every new venture.
Every circumstance is different and has its appropriate process. It can be formal or informal. Stakeholders can get stuck in one line of thinking and create limitations. Maintaining an open mind and being flexible enough to step back from assumptions is often a good approach however in many instances it’s less about new ideas, challenging assumptions or playful exploration and more about meeting a deadline.
Select a project:
Mixman is an interactive music technology company with products for consumers and music-hobbyists. In the marketplace since 1996, Mixman has made: desktop software, hardware with partner Mattel, and brokered major artist label content for use with all its products. Mixman had its own section on MTV for two years for “Remixing.” Mixman has been bundled with major tech partners like Intel and SONY, and has done myriad licensing deals. Mixman has also been involved in brand partnerships and marketing tours with Yahoo, Pepsi-Frito-Lay, Hershey’s and M&M Mars among others.
Mixman has innovated online and with Apps, launching social-networking and self-publishing in the late 90’s and early 00’s long before the term “social networking” even existed.
I was Mixman’s CEO for 12+ years after I and my partners engineered a buy-back in 2002. After a dot.com merger in ‘99 I was Mixman GM and VP of Creative for Beatnik Inc. (the parent company). I was Director of Product Development when I started with Mixman in early 1997.
Under my leadership, Mixman activities included: patents and trademarks, website development and launches, branding, packaging, ad-campaigns, social-marketing, event-marketing, retail sales, licensing, localization, 100’s of software releases and a great deal more.
I have been involved with all aspects of Mixman, from high-level strategy to innovation to implementation. Whether negotiating licensing deals or supervising a new product line, I brought my leadership and vast experience to bear. I bring that know-how, as well as the practical experience of being in a start-up environment, to every new business challenge and opportunity.
Urban Cowgirl is a lifestyle brand for women with a focus on color cosmetics and beauty. It had a flagship location in Silicon Valley, and wanted to achieve distribution with high end retailers in NYC, Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Press tours in NYC and trunk tours in Atlanta, Dallas and elsewhere proved very promising. Henri Bendel and others showed interest but help was needed closing. R&D2 was brought in to help expand and re-imagine the brand and to develop new business strategies as well as look for licensing opportunities.
R&D2 worked closely with Urban Cowgirl’s founder to create new business and marketing initiatives, providing creative ideation, strategic planning and tactical implementation. An affiliate program was created for young women known as the “Posse-Girls.” A social strategy was put in place for a section of the website titled the “Giddi-Up Lounge,” and a variety of other programs were developed, including a first person series “A Day in the Life of the Urban Cowgirl…”
I helped the founder form a board that included an ex-VP of Marketing/CFO of Avon, and turned Urban Cowgirl in to a C-Corp. I assisted with negotiations with a factory in China that manufactured cosmetics and was looking for US partnerships.
R&D2 reworked a home-spun website and developed a comprehensive CMS solution with e-commerce that provided both scalability and flexibility. SEO as well as FB and Twitter strategies were put in place. New product lines were developed including “5 Minutes to Gorgeous,” “La Belle d’ Henri,” and a line of fragrances.
ONCEKids/Fujimini Adventure Series are the brands for a children’s book author and blogger/personality who writes for parents. The books emphasize pan-Asian cultural themes. Several e-books and print books were in the marketplace, and a crude website was in place when R&D2 was brought in to develop the brands more fully and create new designs and web assets. The client required Biz-Dev and Marketing strategies as well as assistance with implementation for the duration of the project.
I worked closely with the founder and author to re-imagine her vision for her business and brands. I unpacked the awkwardness of trying to have one brand serve the parent audience and provide information and materials for librarians and classroom teachers and another brand that was targeted to children ages 4 to11. I helped reveal that not only were two brands needed, but that the Fujimini brand – with a series of books based on animal creatures – was analogous to Sesame Street, where the location was the constant.
For the duration of the project I provided most of the marketing direction and a variety of consulting and implementation services including a full visual catalyst branding effort for both brands; full design of logos, colors and visual language; design and layout for the site; and print collateral – as well as a CMS web solution that could be administered on an ongoing basis by internal teams.
Wu Wei Tea Temple is a retail business that offers a café atmosphere and sells a variety of unique high-end teas, Kava, bone-broths and other food and drink items. The business also offers pre-packaged items, bulk teas and miscellaneous non-food items for sale. It is a sole proprietorship.
The venue also programs a variety of arts and culture activities.
I have been providing business consulting for the owner since she opened her doors in May 2015. I have done monthly reviews of her financials, and advised on a variety of aspects of her business with regard to: costs, margins, personnel, offerings and marketing.
I have also managed arts programming for the business. This includes music, dance, spoken word, and other performance arts. Artists and cultural speakers have included artist performer Sha Sha Higby, visionary activist Caroline Casey, Fringe Festival actress Shelley Mitchell, Jazz singer Jenna Mammina and members of the faculty at Ali Akbar College of Music (Indian Classical). I helped curate two shows of visual art with artist opening nights including environmental artist Andres Amador.
Luminous4D is a studio that develops content and applications for VR/AR/MR (virtual, augmented and mixed reality). The Founders have over 30 years in 3D content and have worked on many projects with notable clients. They have been developing their own titles under their own name and are shifting from a studio-for-hire to a start-up.
I have been working closely with the founders to hone and develop a strategy to transition from studio to start-up. There is a very exciting new business initiative that has both a consumer focus and an educatioanl technology focus. I’m very involved in forming these plans including preparing for investors. Working with key partners like MS and MCOE (Marin County Office of Eductation), Tech Futures and others. We are building a team of education experts (Harvard PhDs) and academics studying data and machine learning in an educational context.
BuildingSkills4Work™ is an initiative that R&D2 spearheaded in collaboration with the Center for Literacy Studies at the University of Tennessee and the Center for Women and Work housed at Rutgers University. The initiative provided free online work-skill training for soft and hard skills for low literacy adults, prison re-entry population, and out-of-school youth.
R&D2 developed a white paper that reviewed the landscape and made recommendations for a web-based skills development initiative. This led to a grant from the State of New Jersey to develop a prototype and, ultimately, to a large grant from the Nicholson Foundation to create BS4W.
In BS4W we wanted to achieve a low-friction access web-based environment that could house interactive learning modules, job search resources and front-end portal to existing resources, and a social forum for collaborative support and to encourage cohort learning.
We determined that the lesson modules needed to depict people in simulated real world job environments via dialog and work-scenarios, and that the lessons needed to be interactive with a high level of engagement.
The Center for Literacy Studies provided the raw script and curricular materials while R&D2 adapted those materials to create a usable format, provide a good learner experience, and create a visual and stylistic consistency utilizing good user experience models.
My role was multi-faceted. Having done the original research, I developed a strong sense of what was missing from available web-based skill development programs and what was needed for the target population. I determined that adult learners had specific challenges and needed to not feel this was merely remedial. We had to provide a quality audio-visual experience. We employed some novel approaches with photography, voice-over, vector design and Flash programming to develop the actual modules. We also developed a LAMPS solution for user-accounts and progress tracking. The website was built to be scalable and to allow us to add the other components over time.
I worked closely with CWW, CLS, and the funder. I led focus group testing in Newark, NJ and Oklahoma City as well as in the Bay Area. The creative, brand, design and coding were done under my supervision and executed by my teams. I presented the project scope and goals at a national conference in Washington D.C. and later at a conference on work issues in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
A small marketing campaign was also spearheaded by R&D2, and we created print collateral for learners and educators. Plans for expanding BS4W were stymied by the economic collapse in 2008 as funding for our target population dried up.
sf|noir is a presenting arts and culture non-profit that highlights the contributions and innovations of African American artists, performers, thinkers, artisans and cultural figures. R&D2 has been actively involved in helping shape the brand, growing the organization, expanding the audience base and generally fulfilling the organization’s mission since its inception.
As a hands-on Board Chair for 9 years, I worked closely with the Executive Director on advancing the vision, growing the organization, strategy and implementation.
Some specific examples:
R&D2’s team of designers and web engineers developed print collateral and several websites for sf|noir including Flash-based and CMS, adhering closely to the brand directives. R&D2 consulted on social marketing and subscription models.
Not Just a Number was a social-justice initiative addressing the Homicide Epidemic in inner cities. The first city was Oakland California. The project was developed by 49th Parallel Productions – new media journalists and rich-media story tellers. R&D2 collaborated closely and provided consultant services.
The project focused on the humanity of victims of homicide. NJN as a project engaged with the families and community and allowed people to share their stories. An interactive rich-media website was developed that provided key statistics and information on the topic of homicide in the inner city.
An Interactive Map was implemented to indicate the location of each homicide with its date and a non-police photo of the victim. Each photo is a prompt to learn more about the victim and leads to audio or video of the family member sharing their story and remembrances.
The initiative was designed to be a template both in terms of branding and as a technology platform that could expand from city to city. The idea was to train community members to take ownership of the content.
49th Parallel are experienced video, photo-journalism and documentary creatives. R&D2 worked closely with 49th, consulting on the unfolding vision and implementation including the interactive website. I was also tasked with exploring funding opportunities and acquiring a fiscal sponsor as well as helping to create materials used for dissemination and to generate interest in the project locally and elsewhere in the country. I initiated proposals with contacts in Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey.
Autumn De Forest is a 16 year old painter (2018), who has been painting and selling her works since she was 6 years old. She is affiliated with Park West Gallery and has sold over $1,000,000 worth of her art. She has appeared on televsion nationally and internationally over 150 times. She has been featured in print and online including Huffington Post, Teen Vogue and more. She is the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition at a major museum, the Butler Museum of American Art (April 2016). Most notably, in November 2015 Autumn received the Giuseppe Sciacca Award for Painting and Art in Rome and presented a painting to Pope Francis at the Vatican in public, which will reside in the Vatican Museum.
Autumn has donated paintings for various causes including Sandy Hook, Fukishima and Haiti relief, and has appeared in schools to talk to other children and youth. She was appointed as the youngest member of the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities and also participates in Turn Around Arts appointed by Michelle Obama.
I have been advising the family on a variety of matters but particularly assisting them in creating a non-profit foundation that would enable Autumn to expand her philanthropic activity. I am currently the President of The Autumn de Forest Foundation (2018). I have worked with the family to clarify the mission, define the activities of the foundation, and develop an overall strategic plan to raise funds and secure an endowment. I have managed the legal matters with regard to corporate formation and serve on the board
I am driving forward our marquee initiative [Face Values] in which Autumn leads young people all over the country in creating actual paintings on canvas that are self-portraits. Besides the self-empowerment achieved, I am working with corporate partners to develop an entrepreneurial component that will generate revenue for 529-educational savings accounts..
I work closely with the Autumn and her family on branding for both her .com and .org and with developing an integrated marketing and social marketing strategy.
Founded in the early 2000’s, the Praxis Peace Institute has been focused on exploring the varying causal factors that prevent us from achieving sustainable peace. These analyses include, economic, environmental and cultural and how they intertwine. The organization puts on themed conferences, has year long speaker-series, workshops, classes and the newly formed Peope’s Think Tank. Praxis has built a 10 year relationship with the Mondragon Community in the Baaque region of Spain and procures a yearly visit for activists, academics, and people interested in the leading cooperative model in the world..
I have worked with the Executive Director to formulate a 3 year strategic plan. I have been providing guidance on how to better demonstrate the important work that is done at Praxis and to reach a greater audience and increased dissemination. I have also helped the Director update the Mission and articulate the vision after 17 years as some changes in emphasis have occured. I also provide advising on how to better integrate technology and digital strategies. I provide targeted development work to increase capacity.
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