Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cupcake Connectivity

With apologies to the Cupcake Class satire over at Pittsblog, there may be something to the confection connection with creativity (I prefer the term "innovation"). In New York City, cosmopolites seek face time with fellow innovators and entrepreneurs at cool coffee shops and upscale breakfast places:

On alternate mornings, Ms. Hurowitz, who lives in the neighborhood with her husband and two children, has breakfast five blocks away at Via Quadronno, another Italian restaurant specializing in thick cappuccinos, flaky croissants and a well-heeled clientele.

“We always joke that Via Quadronno got my husband hired,” Ms. Hurowitz said.

When her husband, who runs a hedge fund, was negotiating for seed money with an investor, they realized both their wives frequented Via Quadronno and knew each other from mornings at the coffee counter. “It was as if it solidified the deal,” Ms. Hurowitz said. “It was like they can trust us. They know where I’m going to be every morning.”

I suspect Richard Florida will seize upon this proof of concept, but I think Ms. Hurowitz describes the key ingredient to the value of proximity to other creative types, trust. In a sea of anonymity, a common patronage may serve as a transaction touchpoint. An appreciation of high-end baked goods may signal a shared outlook, another node of homophily.

Expensive cupcakes may help locate the landscape of New Pittsburgh, where outsiders and unconventional thinkers congregate. Pittsburgh has its share of places that promote business between the established powerbrokers. The Cupcake Class offers a counternarrative to that of the Good Old Boys Network.

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