SXSW: Here Goes Nothing!

From before the plane touched down on Texan soil, you could sense a certain energy flowing around our SXSW-bound airbus. Sleepy row mates soon became partners in practicing their pitches. Phone numbers, Twitter handles and LinkedIn profiles were exchanged. Veterans of the conference were telling war stories from years prior. The excitement was palpable. Being that this is my first SXSW, I had no idea of what to expect. The only bit of certainty that I had was that it was undoubtedly GO TIME!

Austin itself looked like it was mobilizing a small army. Production crews zipped around town, Hulu branded busses shuffled people to and from the convention center and the locals could be overheard excitedly comparing strategies of how they were going to make it through the next 10 days of hurricane SXSW. On a whim, I met up with a friend of a friend at the ATX Start Up Crawl. He had a small booth in the offices of Context.IO. Two hours later I was behind the booth holding court, pitching developers and investors on a service that gets you money back when an airline cancels your flight.

From that point on, it was like leap-frogging from one “most interesting conversation I’ve ever had” to the next. All around me connections were being made and business plans were being developed in real time. It was at that moment that I realized that this is what SXSW is all about. It’s not just the fascinating talks or engaging workshops.

It’s also about the limitless potential for random connections that can be made here and what ideas might be born from them.

This morning was foggy but crisp, a calm before the storm. SXSWers could be seen running to early morning sessions, donning start-up branded sunglasses likely acquired the night before to hide their hangovers. My first talk of the day has left me feeling invigorated. It was a fascinating discussion about how the tech and medical industries are teaming up to make sense of the data that we obsessively mine from our bodies and how it might be turned it into real life applicable health insights. The goal: empower ourselves and turn us into patient-doctor hybrids. If the previous 24 hours are any indication of what’s to come, I’m in for quite the ride.

– Tim Ryan, Manager, Account Planning