Have you ever wondered what goes on at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas? Have you ever asked yourself if this is the type of event you should be attending? Ask no more. We asked 5 members of the Toronto community who attended SXSW earlier this month. All week long we will be featuring an individual who attended the interactive festival, to get their thoughts.
Why was it important for you personally to go to SXSWi?
SXSW is a very important stop for me personally every year as it allows me to see good friends, make new ones and get re-inspired. This year there was an added emphasis on geting the word out of what I am up to and remind people that I am not the "FreshBooks Guy". Don't get me wrong, I love that place but I have a new job to do and I need people to know that.
Why was it important for Thoora to have a presence at SXSWi?
As a tech startup with limited financial resources it is always the best idea to advertise or promote in the place where you will get the most targeted attention. SXSWi is the only time of the year (that I know of) where the tech superstars of yesterday, today and tomorrow are all in the same place and very approachable.
How did you expose Thoora to the SXSWi community while you were in Austin?
Parties are a popular way to announce things at SXSWi but since we at Thoora didn't have a "proverbial pot of gold" to spend in Austin we chose a more charming path and custom made a 4 page newspaper based on the Thoora.com top story results. The papers were slid under the door of each hotel room well after midnight in all the main hotels. This was highly targeted and playful that got us a lot of chatter and in a lot of trouble with the Hotel management but both were worth it.
On top of the in Hotel version of the newspaper idea I also inserted papers into all the "real" newspapers in the Austin Airport and made an effort to talk to every single person at the festival while wearing Thoora merchandise from head to toe.
What was something new that you learned during your time in Austin that will help you?
My biggest take away from this year was something I have heard Mitch Joel say a few times. "It isn't who you know, it's who knows you." I learned this first hand each time someone reached out to me for a meeting or invited me to a unique opportunity. It was humbling, exciting and as a result of it I had several incredible opportunities "gift wrapped" for me to act on.
Was there any new developments or companies that you were exposed to that caught your eye?
I met with and was exposed to many amazing companies but the two that really stood out for me where flowtown.com and Apture.com They are interesting technologies but very different and I hope to look into them both a little more soon.
Who was the one person you met at SXSWi that really left an impression with you and why?
Because part of my job is to build relationships I think to ask me to just pick one person isn't really fair. So I've taken it upon myself to select 3 people I hadn't met previously and 2 I have known for a while:
Nicole Jordan, Allison Blakley and Nina Hartley are all women I met for the first time and had the pleasure of spending time with over the course of the week. Their stories, ideas and personalities all contributed to my absolute Austin enjoyment.
Leah Jones and Krista Neher are both old friends. Leah was the Batman to my Robin on this trip and Krista (the Smartest Woman in the World) was my networking partner and voice of reason, and by that I mean she talked me out of at least two really bad late night ideas.
Why should a company, brand or an individual attend SXSWi next year?
SXSWi has a reputation of being informal and while it is, I don't think that makes a lot of sense because in my experience SXSWi offers some of the best networking, and biz dev/partnership opportunities for the year. Because the crowd is so large and the area of the conference is relatively small and social just about anyone with a decent plan can make an impact. I love SXSWi, so much so I am lobbying to be the Keynote in 2011 so that alone is a pretty decent reason to go......come for no other reason then to come see me.