A Changing World and Understanding Consumer Behavior with Dr. Rippee (Part 2)

Executive Director of UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation Hub, Dr. Robert Rippee, is also a practitioner of zen and the. In this follow-up episode, Net Effects Podcast co-hosts Les Ottolenghi and Mark Bavisotto visit with him about personal transformation and our experience in the now. 

Meditative zen questions like “What am I?” “Where am I” and “What is now?” help engage with the present moment. This focus can be applied to everything from meditation to considering customer experience to innovation and transformation. 

Episode highlights:

  • You need to consider two components before entering the market.  – At UNLV Black Fire Innovation Hub, Dr. Rippee uses a Business Model Canvas with a high-level business model with both customer and product components; the value proposition is what links the components together. The customer component helps during launch mode to identify which customer personas to go after first. Ask: How are you going to find them and reach them? And your product through the value proposition is right for them.
  • The power of loyalty marketing. You don’t have a way to connect if you don’t find a way to engage and meet their needs (e.g., an esports gaming event in 2013). An experience design built around customers’ behaviors, needs, and desires is what is missing. “It’s digital. The connection between everything is tied together with this digital glue. That holds all of our socializing together, holds all of our entertainment together, it holds all of our knowledge together, and all of our important things we do in our lives are all tied together in this digital ecosystem,” says Dr. Rippee.
  • The root of experience design. What assumptions are you making? And what questions are you asking? When it comes to the hospitality industry, these questions help better understand the underlying consumer behavior driving the activity.
  • When it comes to meditating, you’re not doing it wrong. Dr. Rippee uses the analogy to help practice meditation, that the mind is like a motion picture that is constantly running and your brain is always responding. His advice? Just let it run but don’t focus on a single frame; let it keep going and moving, and bring yourself back to the moment of meditation. Tip: Focus on exhales. Count exhaled breaths up to 10, and then start over again. 

Other topics included in this episode include esports and gaming environments, being in “the now” and practical applications of zen focus, innovation and learning, startup culture infrastructure, and more. Listen to the full episode now.

About Dr. Robert Rippee: Dr. Rippee is currently the Executive Director of UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation Hub, as the visionary guide for teams of students, faculty, staff, and partner stakeholders in fulfilling the vision and mission for economic development and diversity through problem-solving based idea creation, innovation, acceleration, and commercialization. Black Fire Innovation Hub brings one of the nation’s top research institutions to incubate and accelerate problem-solving innovation. Black Fire Innovation will create a collaborative, synergistic environment designed to advance student ideas, industry innovation projects, and economic development through advanced technology development.

Black Fire Innovation Hub is housed in a state-of-the-art research building at the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park, located in southwestern Las Vegas, a few miles from the main UNLV campus and additional facilities currently under development.

Dr. Rippee is the co-founder of two early-stage startups: one with innovative new technology for the wine industry currently holding a provisional patent; the second a startup using ultraviolet light as the basis for a hotel room sterilization device. He is also a Net Effect Ventures partner. NEV is a social-responsibility focused venture capital and consulting firm.

Dr. Rippee is the former Senior Vice President of Marketing for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, culminating in more than 25 years of innovation experience in development, hospitality, resort development, gaming, and a robust network of advisors and mentors across technology and hospitality and gaming. Before joining Las Vegas Sands, he served as Chief Marketing Officer for two significant resort land developers based on the East Coast.

Dr. Rippee attained his Ph.D. in Hotel Administration from UNLV in December 2020, researching consumer behavior and human learning in the context of innovation. He has extensive research expertise in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. He is well known across the university. He is frequently requested as the academic advisor by graduate students for independent research projects ranging from video game development to robotic process automation. His research has included game theory, problem gaming, the convergence of gaming and gambling, human learning, innovation, and esports. He holds an MBA from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and an undergraduate degree in Finance from The University of Wyoming.

He is also a Decorated Veteran, having served as a pilot in the United States Navy. He is an avid bicyclist, both road and mountain. He is also an avid fitness practitioner.