Whew, it’s over! My Recap of SXSW 2011
Many of you know that South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive officially wrapped up on March 15th. No doubt you’ve heard about it if you are active on Twitter or in Social Media. For those that haven’t heard about it, it’s one of the largest conferences in the world covering interactive topics such as mobile, social media, and web applications. It’s truly a sight to see with as many as 20 sessions at one time covering 10 hotels. In fact, last year over 14,000 attendees made their way to Austin!
There are many reasons to attend! You’ll meet people from all over the world. In one session, you’ll meet a web developer from Oklahoma and later than evening, you’ll meet a startup who just received a $30 Million Series A round of funding. There are so many sessions that you often won’t be able to decide which sounds the best. Some of the sessions will be a bust and others will blow you away! You will see new startups being launched for the first time. Some of the biggest startups today such as Twitter where launched at SXSW. After attending sessions all day, there will be parties all over the city. Some are officially sponsored parties and others are small private RSVP parties.
SXSW is truly an awesome experience and I think anybody in technology should attend at least one time. So in honor of my amazing 6 days and 5 long nights in Austin, I’ll discuss my favorite sessions and the trends I noticed swirling around!
Sessions that stood out:
- Developing a Seamless Web to Mobile Experience - Omar Green from Intuit gave a compelling talk about how Intuit is really digging into the customer experience to innovate. I walked away committed to spending more time with end users before releasing another product!
- The Thank You Economy - If you’ve never heard Gary Vaynerchuk, you have no idea what you are missing! His speech was funny, compelling, and very thought provoking. Gary discussed his theory that companies who will win in the next generation are those that really deeply care about their customers. He believes caring is profitable and we are returning to a world more similar to our great grandparents’ world where businesses knew and cared about each of their customers. He also threw a hell of a wine party!
- Five Startups You Meet in the Deadpool - Throw together two very savvy investors and two very savvy entrepreneurs (Hashable and Thrillist) and what do you get? A fantastic discussion about building businesses and things you MUST know if you hope to build a great business. They were all great, but Christine Herron really stood out to me and the discussions about customer acquisition where amazing!
Trends I noticed:
- Daily Deal Takes Over – Last year seemed to be the year of the Location-Based startup at SXSW. This year definitely seemed to be the year of the Daily-Deal startup. While Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com have been around for a few years, there were a bunch of startups at SXSW rolling out new daily deals with a twist. There was also a fair amount of discussion about consumers getting fatigued by daily deals and how this space will evolve to create more value for local businesses.
- Group Communications – Group communications also seemed to be the aim of many startups. Many of us realize that people at events have a need to keep up with each other in a better, more organized way than you can do with plain-old text messages and Foursquare. Expect to see one or two of these to explode in the next year.
- Enough Talking About Social Media – For the first time in a while, it seemed that people were tired of discussing social media and how you should use it. There were some sessions about the topic, but nothing like I’ve seen in past years. While most of the world is just finding out about Twitter and Foursquare, the SXSW crowd seems to be tired of the endless debates about it.
These are just a few of my take-aways. I hope I’ve convinced you it’s worth attending in the future. You won’t have a crazier, more interesting, or thought provoking week all year!