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We help organizations, marketers and creative professionals tell more efficient & effective stories by providing the tools, strategies and practice required to accelerate their success.


Our Vision

If it’s true that talent is equally distributed but access and opportunity are not — Our mission is to create the right environment to accelerate business and professional growth through better storytelling.


Our Vision



MVCC & thINCubator is partnering with Real Useful Company to provide a 4- module, hands-on, intensive training (a ‘practicum’) to identify, grow and foster creatives in the Mohawk Valley as a prototype to a future national rollout.

Participants in CNY will receive world-class, boot-camp style training from industry experts from across the country and have the opportunity to work in a hands-on capacity to build & execute a marketing strategy for 4 actual business startups.

This is a Masterclass in the disciplines that encompass the branding and marketing industry and the purpose and intent of this program is threefold.

  1. To activate the conceptual and hard skills entrepreneurs need to seed and grow their business

  2. To help marketing teams and individuals more effectively communicate their story to peers, stakeholders, and customers

  3. To strengthen and sharpen the skills and practices of existing and aspiring creatives

We will achieve this by working together to launch 4 clients per quater with real business and communication challenges. Each course module will be broken into two days of activities, allowing teams to both thinc and do.

All participants will be broken into teams (multidiscipline) and guided by national leaders in strategy, marketing, design and storytelling.

Using industry-standard tools and techniques to make better work —from insight to execution — business owners, marketing / brand managers and creative teams will not only learn but practice how to make the most of their marketing dollars regardless of whether they are currently working with or for agencies or an in-house team.

  • 4 weeks (2 intensive work-out-loud sprints per week)

  • 25 seats (creatives, marketers, business leaders)

  • 4 clients (local, regional, national)

  • +100 deliverables (market-ready communications)

Our Partners




Mohawk ValleY Community College

Established in 1946 to help train and educate veterans returning from World War II, Mohawk Valley Community College has evolved to become New York State’s first community college, the largest college between Syracuse and Albany, and the region’s primary provider of college education and non-credit training.



We are a startup that helps start ups.

Our mission is to cultivate a community of entrepreneurship by providing a place where business venture mavericks are able to incubate ideas, collide with other market-makers and get inspired by facilitating/hosting a variety of programming to support local business ventures — from interest to acceleration.


Real USEful Company, INC

RUC is a Creative Collective founded to help brands act, sound & be seen as more human. Our studios, located in LA, Detroit and Boston, specialize in creative design & consulting.

In 2018, Real Useful added Utica to its list of creative hubs. Today, the Utica team supplies national clients with ‘storycrafting’ services utilizing the power of a Writer’s Room — a high-functioning, open-collaboration environment employed to disrupt conventional problem solving.



Our Impact

This is about all of us.

Curious. Determined. Adaptable. Vulnerable. Human. We need you. The world needs you. To help make things better. Your country needs you. To look beyond the obvious. Your organization needs you. To challenge them to think differently. And your community needs you. To start something and to see it through.

No weight is too heavy if we all lift together.



CONSULTING committed each seq

More than $250,000.00 of Professional Consulting is immediately accessible to all participants and organizations signed up for a workshop series sequence — even before day 1!

Revenue growth potential for all engaged participants is a 10X proposition that we’re proud to offer for hundreds less than most self-guided, career transformation courses.



organizations accelerated

In 2019, the StoryEngine will help accelerate the marketing programs of up to 12 local, regional and national organizations willing to bet on the undiscovered talent of Central New York.

Using human-centered design methodologies and an ensemble of thinkers and doers assigned to solve a particular story challenge, will leave their sequence with a mix of go-to-market strategies and host of market-ready content.



PArticipants trained & inspired

Through the rigor of an intensive 4-week practicum facilitated by industry experts in multiple disciplines from around the country (LA, Detroit, Boston, NYC, Utica), the StoryEngine will train existing and aspiring creatives/marketers in industry-standard tools and techniques to make more effective & efficient stories across all forms of media.





Those who tell the stories rule the world

Today’s interdependent, global economy requires a skilled workforce that is able to motivate others to take action. And the most efficient and effective engine for motivation is story. Yet, storytelling is seldom promoted as a hard skill people need to hone and shape to be successful at work.

We believe the ability to tell complex stories simply across all business mediums — from concept through execution — is the one truth that separates those that lead and those that follow. So whether you’re a new-comer to marketing & creative or a working professional looking to build your skills, this workshop was designed with you in mind.

If you’re ready to change your narrative, enroll in the full series today and receive a $100 discount!

module 1 - Framing the Problem

Day 1: Thinc Session / Backgrounding

  • Learn about data-mining techniques, insight gathering methods and strategic “platforming.”

  • See how others have developed a “true north” for different brands.

  • Hear stories from those that turned their labors of love into thriving endeavors by being strategic and intentional.

Day 2: Do Session / Finding a True North

  •  Define the parameters of your universe: How you fit in and stand out.

  • Ink a “why” statement and define an offering that customers need and want.

  • Write a transformational creative brief and a roadmap for success.

  • Design the “Job To Be Done” (JTBD).

  • Align talent with tasks.

  • Homework assigned…

May 10th & 11th

Friday 1pm-5pm (thinc session)
Saturday 9am-5pm (do session)


326 Broad St.

Utica, NY


Module 2 - Thinking out loud

Day 3: Thinc Session / Blue-sky Thinking

  •  Learn about human-centered design methodologies and how to develop breakthrough thinking.   

  • Hear how big ideas are born.

  • See how to turn an idea from a noun into a verb.

  • Unpack a specific communication challenge and design a three-point framework to solve that challenge.   

Day 4: Do Session / Whiteboarding

  • Get up and shout — Whiteboarding and brainstorming as a team exercise.

  • Break out and write it down — Small team sprints to find emotional insights.

  • Work out verbal articulations of the brand — Foundational “do’s and don’ts.” 

  • Homework assigned…

May 17th & 18th

Friday 1pm-5pm (thinc session)
Saturday 9am-5pm (do session)


326 Broad St. Utica, NY


Module 3 - Solution design

Day 5: Thinc Session / Working Collaboratively

  •  Learn how creatives organize and execute and how marketers create demand and communicate objectives.

  • Hear how to commission work, assess quality, value and performance.  

  • See how not all work is created equal.

  • Uncover tricks, tools and tactics from best-in-class partnerships.

  •  Design and assign execution, optimization and measurement activities.

  •  Come to agreement on minimum viable product and workflow priorities.

Day 6: Do Session / Taking and Giving

  • Get moving on channel and communication tactics.

  • Give actionable feedback.

  • Come prepared to edit.

  • Find comfort in adjusting your work to make it better. 

  • Edit, change and make it better.

  • Homework assigned…

May 31th & JUNE 1st

Friday 1pm-5pm (thinc session)
Saturday 9am-5pm (do session)


326 Broad St. Utica, NY


Module 4 - Execution

Day 7: Thinc / Story Matters

  • Learn how to give a great, authentic and emotional presentation.

  • Hear how to use tools like PowerPoint to support not distract from the story you’re selling.   

  • See how others are using social media and other alternative methods to get the word out to customers.

  • Discuss how to work and remain a part of the marketing and creative communities of CNY.

  • Hear how this program is a pilot for other rust belt initiatives: Your feedback is wanted and needed.

  • Edit, change and make it better extended

 Day 8: Do Session / Brand+Story+Launch

  • Edit, change and make it better. Work to be completed.

  • Go to market executions shared and handed off to clients.

  • Cheers, tears and laughter.

  • Next steps established…

JUNE 7th & 8th

Friday 1pm-5pm (thinc session)
Saturday 9am-5pm (do session)


326 Broad St. Utica, NY / On Location



Open Feedback Session.


June 10th-21st




December 2017

The ability to tell a good story is essential and can make or break how well a business differentiates itself in the market as well as makes a profit.

Celinne Da Costa / Read Full Article



Meet the Leaders.


Josh Caldwell

Josh is a director, writer, producer, and MTV Movie Award Winner.

His debut feature film LAYOVER was made for $6000 and had its World Premiere to sold out crowds at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious FIPRESCI New American Cinema Award.


In 2015, he directed the first season of Hulu’s SOUTH BEACH and the Paramount Pictures feature film BE SOMEBODY. His latest film, the action-thriller NEGATIVE, had its World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival and was released on Digital HD and OnDemand.




Rob is an Executive and Global Digital & Business strategist. His acumen in building strategic executive relationships with partners and clients allows Rob to unpack true customer needs and convert them into go-to-market plans.

He's a value creator who defines strategies, guides innovation and technology needed to drive revenue and business results for clients such as Amazon, Baskin-Robbins, Bed Bath & Beyond, Carrier, CBS, Dunkin’ Donuts, LensCrafters, LL BEAN, MINI USA, MLB, P&G, PUMA, Sunglass Hut, Virgin Mobile USA.



Shaan is a writer and brand strategist with a diverse portfolio of creative work in advertising, marketing and television production.

He endeavors to partner with equally passionate makers of things as their resident Swiss Army knife to help solve tough creative problems with design thinking, storytelling and effective writing.


Fernando del rosario

Fernando Del Rosario is a seasoned advertising creative who has the heart of an artist and teacher. His work is wide ranging and his clients include some of the yummiest and most-reliable brands in the world.


After leading design work at a handful of Southern California’s best known advertising agencies, Fernando pivoted his 25-year career toward his passion as an author, artist and now professor at CalState Fullerton.

Art Gallery


Devin Mahoney

Devin has worked on over two hundred episodes of television for dozens of shows, including Scrubs, Better Off Ted, Outsourced, The Millers, Downward Dog, I’m Sorry, and Man With A Plan.

As RUC’s resident storyteller and improv leader, Devin is able to draw from his experience at legendary comedy theaters iO West, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Nerdist School and The Second City Hollywood.



Matt is an experienced Senior Creative Director, creator and storyteller with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry.

He is skilled in Digital Strategy, Integrated Advertising, Branding & Identity, and Experiential Marketing.


Jeremy Redleaf

Jeremy Redleaf is a Daytime Emmy and Streamy award winning artist, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

He is also the Head Honcho at Brackets Creative, a co-founder Caveday, and founder of OddJobNation.

Jeremy is certainly a prolific cross-pollinator of form & function who has spent the better part of his career thinking thoughtfully about how to communicate with — and on behalf of — the creative community in an effort to help create better stories and experiences.


sara moore

Sara is a design-thinking bully who believes that in the history of solution designing there has never been just one solution to a problem. Never. Not once! And she drives her teams and clients to fall inline with this approach to delivering the very best business results possible.

As a Creative Director for the original DVR company TiVo, Sara fully embraces the power of thoughtful design and a thorough narrative to inspire compelling experiences, successful products and responsive customers.



Rego is an award-winning creative executive that has helped launch brands, products and services on behalf of come of the world's most well-known and well-respected brands, like Lincoln Motor Company, Toyota Motors, Sony, Staples, Pfizer.

His expertise in telling complex stories simply has made Rego a go-to utility for his clients for more than 20 years.


You’ve got questions.

We have answers.



Don’t see an answer to what’s keeping you up at night? Drop us note or meet up with us for a drink at the following meetups:   

  • Thincubator // 326 Broad St, Utica / Friday, April 26 from 12-1PM

  • Green Onion // 2018 Genesee St, Utica / Friday, April 26 from 5:30-7PM


Who should attend this workshop?


Almost anyone.

Anyone who needs to persuade others. Anyone looking to sell something. Anyone who wants to express themselves visually and verbally. Anyone looking to learn how world-class professionals with careers that touch…  advertising, writing, filmmaking, photography, illustration, animation, acting, design, technology, marketing, non-profit, strategy, entrepreneurship, retail, manufacturing, team leadership, disruptive thinking, sales… do what they do.


Do I need to sign up for all modules?


No. Short answer.

The series was built with modularity in mind. We understand the restraints placed on working professionals and do not require you sign up for all modules.    

Longer truth.

Because our client’s work and business success is depending on team continuity and deliberate practice, we strongly encourage all participants to commit to attending all modules.  


What happens if I miss a module?


No need to apologize. Life happens.

You’ll be welcomed back into the fray. But we will not be able to refund you for missed hours because all proceeds are used to secure and fund our Subject Matter Experts prior to launching each StoryEngineWorkshop Sequence.


Do I need to prepare for this workshop?


Yes. There is a small amount of prework.

We will send around some materials for you to digest as a workshop primer. Please be on the lookout for that to come in the form of an email.   


What do I need to bring with me to workshop?


Mostly nothing.  

The only thing we require, absolutely require, is for you to bring an open mind, your curiosity and a willingness to contribute. We suggest, however, you bring whatever devices or technology you feel comfortable working on/in. In addition to your gear, we will have workstations and equipment available for “Do Day” work sessions.  


If you have real clients, why am I paying for this workshop?


Good to great question. However, you might be following the wrong storyline.   

 There are many ways to answer this question. Let’s refocus on the hard truth. All clients chosen for this workshop are currently underfunded but poised for growth. Hence, we are all counting on their potential and not the coins in their purse. Do we all want to get paid? Of course. And when the time is right, those that work hard will be rewarded for their efforts. That includes the client, you and the professional community.

 In other words, the value you gain from participating in this workshop will be in the form of knowledge gathering, skills building, professional networking and exposure to alternative thinking from experts who do the work we all hope to do together in Utica.


Am I going to benefit from this workshop?


Ultimately that is up to each participant.

Our commitment is to provide a place and a space for participants to learn, grow and walkaway feeling accomplished.  


Will my employer benefit from this workshop?



In fact, here’s a cheat sheet for getting your employer to sponsor your attendance in the StoryEngineWorkshop <link>


Who is leading this workshop, and why should I care?


National, award-winning, professional storytellers. Seasoned, strategic marketers. Advertising leaders. Photographers. Design-Thinking Tacticians. Artists. Authors. Filmmakers.

 If your goal is to be a better marketer, artist, writer, business leader, community organizer, social media influencer, photographer, disrupter, developer, collaborator or teammate then who we bring to Utica and how we intended to mingle their professional expertise with client challenges should matter to you.     


Who are the Speakers, and what makes them so special?


We have enlisted a host of Speakers with interesting, relevant stories to share. See our Speakers Page to see what makes them so special.  


Will you feed me?


Like a baby bird on a warm Spring morning, we’ve heard your cries for sustenance. Snacks and beverages will be at arms-length throughout the workshop series.  


Can I use this work as a case study or as a portfolio piece?


Yes, and we encourage sharing the outcomes of your work with both your network and ours.


Will there be networking opportunities included in this sequence?


Absolutely. We will lead and nurture the act of building community.  

A fundamental principle of story is that the inciting incident is always followed by the main action. For StoryEngineWorkshop, the main action is growing a viable, self-sustaining creative community in Central Ne York.  


Can you guarantee work at the end of this workshop?


We cannot.

But hard work and follow through leads to opportunity. And, to date, Real Useful Company has employed a handful of talent on small pieces of business unrelated to this workshop and intends to continue to grow its workforce in Utica and CNY.    


Are there similar enrichment programs or workshops or conferences that are similar to this one?


Yes. There are many.

Glad to hear you’re curious about this. We think it is vitally important to be transparent about how we believe we fit into the world of education, career enrichment/advancement and skills development services.

Our methodology for delivering a high-quality learning environment is rooted in the rigor of “realness.” Real clients. Real goals. Real deadlines. Real professionals. Real stakes. Real outcomes. Real stories developed for the real world.

 We will not pretend to thinc and do as a theoretical or thought experimentation exercise. Nor will we treat this workshop like a classroom. We will actually thinc aloud and do together as a group working towards a desired end.

Here’s a list of training programs or platforms we love:

 Here’s a list of conferences we attend:

 Here’s a few really great courses we wish we could compete with:

 And if you want to spend up to $54,012.00 and 2 years time to build a communication arts portfolio in a classroom, you should check these out for real:


What will my attendance fee be used for?


Only workshop essentials.

We will not use your money for anything but supporting the workshop, including Speaker honorariums (a small fee for appearing and sharing), food and equipment rentals and a special StoryEngineWorkshop sequence/cohort care package.