SXSW Three a Day – Part 1 & 2

Exhausted.  That best describes the first two days of SXSW 2014.

Here are the first few pictures and observations of what we have seen.

Look up once in a while


In a festival this big, there is a constant battle for attention.  I noticed how many people seemed to bury themselves in smartphones and tablets, and miss what is going on around them.  Did this guy see the painting going on the wall behind him?

The world is a lot smaller than you think


Despite 30k attendees and half of Austin doing their own events, I have connected with lots of people randomly here. Those have been some of the best moments.

Tech is not cool


There are several non-tech related brands trying to compete for “buzz.” For example, Subway has a booth displaying wearable tech. A paper towel company is sponsoring massage chairs protected by their tissues.  This must have cost a lot of money and comes off sort of desperate to me. It felt very far from their actual function and the solution they play in the world.

Less is more


Pop up displays are all over town; many of which are random funny and clever branding.  My favorites so far are ones with no staffing and “scream in factor.”  The Bates Motel is well executed by A&E. It’s just sitting there quietly lurking with no activity around it, hinting there is something ominous is going on inside. Great teaser for the show!

Austin has an entrepreneurial heart


Having been to CES and lots of other large scale events in other places, I am left with a distinct impression about Austin. Since going mainstream, the city has maintained its entrepreneurial spirit. Ideas are turned into currency here very quickly. Take for example this pop up company featured in the photo above. You pay them to stand in line for you before a session. Yeah, I wish I would have paid for that service several times here.

Bigger has the same problems


They are only bigger. Lots of panel speakers are talking about the problems they face in their businesses.  For example, how to remain relevant, scrappy and find great people. One great panel included Michael Dell and the leaders of Shutterfly, TripAdvisor and the Knot. A lot of what they said hit home and made me more confident anything is possible.

Now off to more shenanigans and exhaustion.

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