This really will be the year the internet comes of age with broadband video (HD, streaming, etc.)

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Born/raised in Chicago, attended Columbia College there and moved out to Los Angeles 8 years ago to work in entertainment.

I started at Universal Studios in script development and left to work in interactive (hoping to find some time to finalize a few scripts I had written in college.)

To make a very long story short, I still haven't had time to write but Zugara has developed beyond expectations and it's all been a great ride so far.

We have a GREAT team and it's really an honor as well as inspiring to work on a daily basis with so many talented individuals. By the way, my last name is Polish and it's pronounced Simcheck.

  What do you do for inspiration?

I read "The Alchemist" for a quick inspiration fix. It really puts perspective on life. Highly recommended.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Adrants - great for new advertising and interactive campaigns.

Adverblog - good info on what's going on across the pond with interactive and mobile marketing, and…

FWA (of course) - for all the latest and greatest sites out there.

Moluv is also a fav so want to give Mo a shout out.

Those are 3 (or I guess 4) sites I visit on a daily basis.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Keeping my sanity through entertainment and now advertising - I think that's what he said :-)

  What software couldn't you live without?

Blackberry OS.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We have quite a bit of work due to launch soon from 2 of our longstanding clients - PlayStation and Reebok - as well as new clients including Jelly Belly and Hopelab.

Hopelab in particular we're excited about because it's our first project for a non-profit organization.

Despite all the entertainment related work we do, it's refreshing to use our interactive skills for a great cause.

  Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

As our industry has evolved, so too have the types of interactive companies.

There's now a difference between flash/design companies and interactive marketing companies though they generally fall under the same 'interactive umbrella'.

For strictly flash/design, WDDG (great theme/branding), Dentsu (great design), and Fantasy Interactive (great flash skills).

For interactive marketing & advertising it's R/GA - they understand interactive as a whole better than anybody.

  Who is your target audience?

Gen XY. Most of our work is targeted at this demo and one of our core competencies.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

I think web designers tend to get caught up in making a site 'cool' versus focusing on usability for the consumer and/or meeting basic marketing 0bjectives for the site.

  What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

The very first Zugara site was for the PlayStation game, "Gran Turismo 3", and it is still online.

  Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I have not written any books but I have written a few screenplays and would like to get back to them at some point.

I'll leave the books about design, flash and actionscript to our in-house experts.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Yes. I think Flash will also become more prominent in 2006 because of its ability to handle video better.

This really will be the year the internet comes of age with broadband video (HD, streaming, etc.)

  What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

I think design/graphic schools are great and we've had a lot of excellent interns work for us right out of design schools (some are even members of Zugara now.)

However, practical and 'live' experience is key to development because you're not often held to the same demanding timelines/budgets/standards in school that you are in real life.

Every student wanting to get into the advertising, interactive or design industries should try out an internship before they graduate.

  When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Our ability to think of interactive in terms of both online and offline has been very effective for us.

One of my favorite Zugara campaigns is still the RBK Whodunit site we did a few years ago. It's very in depth and a true example of how integrated campaigns can work effectively.

The site features many online interactive components but most importantly it features a drive-to-retail component that sent the site visitors or ‘detectives’ to a physical store to interact with the product.

Despite all the other interactive components of the site (interactive crime scene, flash encoded video, 3D analyzers) the fact that we were able to get 33% of all site visitors to a foot locker store (via a Whodunit Printout from the site) was how Zugara and our client defined the site/campaign as a success.

The Answer IX site for Reebok and Socom 3 site for PlayStation are also personal (as well as client) favorites as they fully leverage different interactive marketing technologies and above all, 'meet the brief'.

  What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?

Aibo robot - and it's in our office.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Always be true to yourself and listen to your gut instinct - it's right more often than not.

Also, for any of you reading this interview, if you want a Zugara lid or hat, shoot me an email at Matt@zugara.com and we'll get you hooked up!

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

Thank you and best of luck with FWA - it's been awesome watching your site grow over the years!

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