CAMP Awards 2016 Start Up FINALIST: Patio Interactive’s Design and Innovation

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CAMP Marketing Awards - 2016 Start Up categoryThis year, CAMP is going to be showcasing some of our award finalists in the weeks leading up to the Gala. CAMP is excited to share our first finalist from the start-up category: PATIO Interactive. We reached out to Charles Bern – who founded the company in 2014 – and asked him about PATIO, his team’s Vision to Reality project for PWC, and what’s next for him and his team.


So what does PATIO do, exactly? In Charles’ own words: “PATIO is a technology-driven design and marketing agency, headquartered in downtown Toronto. We operate on the forefront of technology to design and build unique experiences across a range of mediums. As a team of designers, technologists and marketers, we bring ideas to life from initial conception to the final product. We are one of the first companies to design, develop and build “phygital” creations in-house and have become industry leaders in creating virtual reality and fully immersive user experiences”. A driven entrepreneur, who (among other ventures) has previously managed a singles and social event company, Charles is “obsessed with user experience in all its forms”. His work enables him to explore this passion thoroughly: “We’re always trying to learn about different technology and how our target demographic can have the most compelling experience with whatever we come up with. A perceived experience can change depending on our target users so in our line of work it’s crucial to understand the ways in which all demographics and segments interact with technology and design”. PATIO’s target demographic has ranged from “teenagers right through to people who lived through WWII. One day we’re trying to figure out what drives teenagers to send a Tweet and the next day we’re creating a virtual reality experience for baby boomer C-level executives”. Despite only being around for three years, Charles and his 10-person team have led projects for clients of all kinds, from “multinational corporations such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and TD Canada Trust, to successful local startups like Crazy Beard Ale (Iconic Brewing)”. What’s been key to PATIO’s success over such a short timespan? Charles believes it to be a combination of:
  • A fast and flexible organizational structure
  • An extremely collaborative team environment
  • Affordable and creative pricingPatio Interactive
  • A strong technological understanding beyond traditional marketing
  • Excellent client relationships and repeat business
  • An inspiring and fun work environment
  • A culture that “shares PATIO’s successes with its team. We have a great profit-sharing program and we’re also a supporter of passion projects.”
  • Wine clubs: “a social mixer with performances by Toronto best standup comedians and a wine potluck.”
That said, there are definitely still challenges to overcome “We’re a bootstrapped company and we’ve grown entirely through growing our client base and maintaining strong relationships.  We work with new technology, which can be pricey, but we have to spend money to make money”.

Vision to Reality

Recently, one of PATIO’s key clients – PricewaterhouseCoopers – contacted them to support the marketing leading up to their Vision to Reality awards event, as well as lead the event itself. As the awards were designed to “recognize and celebrate companies who are leaders in innovation, propelling their companies forward by being disruptors and game changers in their industries”, PATIO needed to deliver something out of the ordinary. To fulfill on those expectations, Charles and his team did two key things.
  • They designed and built interactive trophies that were “powered and wifi-enabled to respond to specific social media traffic, including programmed twitter hashtags, with elaborate light shows”.
  • Integrated virtual reality into the event in various ways. Specifically, they “held a virtual reality exhibition on-site, filmed the event in 360° video, and created PwC-branded VR viewers as a gift for all the attendees at the event. Through the VR viewers, guests were able to watch the event footage post-event in 360 degrees. Attendees were also given the opportunity to participate in a virtual reality experiential activation where guests could play with some of the newest and most game-changing virtual reality with Oculus Rifts and Gear VRs”.
This approach definitely paid off in spades for PATIO and PwC, “generating high engagement in the form of hundreds of social media mentions and tweets, as well as many rave reviews from attendees”.

What’s next for PATIO

PATIO just launched a new division of their business: PATIO VR. They’re aiming to capitalize on recent trends towards large-scale virtual reality adoption. So far, PATIO VR has “shot numerous corporate, marketing activations, weddings, concerts in virtual reality 360° video and this new division is now offering a suite of VR/photography services for businesses looking to blow people’s minds”. On the more casual side of things, PATIO is planning to launch a website for their Wine club events, so stay tuned for that.

PATIO at the CAMP Awards

This isn’t the first time PATIO has been a part of the CAMP Awards. Last year, Charles was a finalist in our entrepreneurship category. “We met CAMP at a meetup event. The marketing industry is evolving quickly and it’s always fascinating to see what else is out there. It’s also great for networking. At last year’s awards, I met the company’s future accountants, Chan Rana, who have been integral to our growth”. Want to meet Charles and the rest of our award finalists? Join us at the CAMP 2016 Marketing Awards on November 2nd. About Author:

Zach Goldglas CAMP MemberZach is a recent graduate of the Schulich School of Business MBA program, where he specialized in both Marketing and Arts and Media Administration. He is passionate about the connections between branding, entertainment, and technology. He can be reached directly by email at or through twitter @ZachGoldglas.


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