My Time at SXSW 2014

One more session and I’ll be leaving SXSW for the trip back to wonderful Nashville, TN. This was my second time to SXSW in 3 years. One the last trip, we brought along several members of our development team. With this trip we tried a new approach and brought along the leaders of our Digital Strategies Team. 2 from Development. 2 from Creative. 3 from Marketing. 2 from Digital Business. It was a wise decision.

While SXSW has been entertaining, informational and fun, the time with our leadership team has by far been the best value from the trip. A lot of companies deal with dysfunction amoung these groups and teams. At Dave Ramsey’s Organization, we work really hard not to let this happen. We actually like and enjoy working with each other. It’s really like working within a “positive” family experience. This makes our work environment extremely fun. One of the byproducts is how excited everyone is to work on projects together and to help improve and make things working and function better. Always striving for improvement. Sometimes that improvement is slow in coming, but rest assured, it is coming.

As for the rest of SXSW, it started a bit slower than my last visit. The weather was cold and rainy. Yuck! The sessions were rather weak. By day 3, things started picking up. The weather improved and probably unrelated, so did the quality of the sessions. Perhaps I just did a better job choosing. 🙂 In in case, I’ve picked up some really good ideas, and sparked my digital creative juices flowing again. Sometimes, I probably get a little too focused on work and need a break like this to pull me out of the weeds. It allows me an opportunity to see more clearly some of the things we need to focus on for improvement.

Thanks SXSW.

SXSW – Day 4

Well, today got off to a rockin’ start. Can you sense my sarcasm?

Getting the day started part 1
After going out with the the guys last night, I ended up bringing all my collective items back to the room. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been leaving my badge in the car…which didn’t happen today. It made for a nice scenic and unintentional round trip drive to the convention center. I tip towards the optimist side a bit, so there was a silver lining. No sense making a wasted trip out of this right? While at the hotel I found 2 strangers that were headed to the conference, but were waiting on a cab. After all, I’m a bit of a socialite. I had the pleasure of meeting Rita and Dan who by the way were great conversationalists.

Getting the day started part 2
After making the 2nd trip down the convention center for the day, I was ready to attend a few sessions. Unfortunately I miss the Intuit Storyboard session, but all of my cohorts obviously thought it was worthwhile. They all went to the same session and sang rave reviews.

To get my juices flowing I attending a nice discussion about side projects. The conversation was good, but I was really after 1 thing. How do you get funding? After all, isn’t that what every side project needs? A little cash love. Bringing up kickstarter.com proved to be a worthwhile topic. I found a woman who had just the experience I was looking for. She told me of a group that needed blah…blah…blah, but got 2x what they needed…$20,000 in total. Wowsers! That’s what I’m talking about!

My big takeaways from her comments were to tie video and social media to the initiative. Don’t just stick your project on kickstarter.com. Market it. Tell the story via video, social, any way you can, but get the word out.

After that, it was off to something a little more interesting. A circle of friends. Actually, we weren’t friends, but the chairs were setup in a circle. About 200 people attending a pretty interesting session on business 101. It was a collaborative session where facilitators from innochat.com walked the group through some quick business issues and fielded questions from the group. For only having an hour, they did a phenomenal job. Renee Hopkins and Drew Marshall were great. If you’re an innovator or entrepreneur, visit innochat.com.

Exhibitor Hall
I spent a huge chunk of the day in the exhibitor hall. Why? It’s has a ton of great vendors. Normally this kind of stuff is rather unimpressive. I’ve already seen most of it. However, I did find a few quality vendors for social media tracking, market research, and a host of other things. Well worth the 3 hours I spent talking to people. Oh, and I bumped into a few Dave Ramsey fan/vendors.

Wrapping up the day
We skipped the parties tonight since we bombed on last night’s event. However, we did attend a 6:00 reception put on by IBM that was definitely the best evening activity so far. We met some really cool people, ate good food, heard great music, and made it home by 8:30. We event bumped into some hard core Dave Ramsey fans in the process.

Enjoy the videos from earlier in the week. Raw format.

 

Technical Difficulty – Videos not uploading via Hotel connection. Check back later.

USHIP (don’t get motion sickness)

Great party. Not the best video. 🙂
Frog Design Party 1
Frog Design Party 2
Frog Design Party 3
Frog Design Party 4

SXSW – Day 3

Ouch. My feet hurt. No one told me there would be so much walking at SXSW! Now I know why people by those Segways! Sorry if I sound like a whiner, but there is a lot of ground to cover here at SXSW. In the morning, I left the conference center for  a session about 6 blocks away. Just getting across the conference center is at least 3 blocks of walking. Tomorrow I’m using the pedometer!

On to the Day
Well, it was a great day. I met some very interesting people including the folks over at BeaconFire.com. They help non-profits create and execute a web strategy. I also met a celebrity in the anime world, Christine Auten. Christine has been voice cast in over 50 Anime series as well as some directing and script writing. Being a multi-talented person, Christine is also big on the communications side of SXSW, Interactive Special Projects.

Crowdsourcing
Although I wasn’t able to get in on a couple of the sessions I wanted today (I recommend you find out which sessions will be in the highest demand and get there early), I was able to sit in on 2 crowdsourcing sessions. It was very interesting to hear people speak about their first hand experience with crowdsourcing. The first session was anchored by the3six5. The second crowdsourcing session I attended today took a different and slightly less favorable look at crowdsourcing. When is it a problem when you take the crowdsourced results and turn them into for profit items?

Jonathan Zittrain did an amazing job of stretching my brain on crowdsourcing, while he also leaft enough to the imagination to question the ethics of crowdsourcing when it applies to solving all kinds of problems. I wish I could cover this more, but my feeble attempts wouldn’t do it justice. You’re better off searching youtube or trying to get your hands on the SXSW session.

As we should all do after a good session, I’ve sketched out some ideas for when I return to the office.

Deviant Art
I spent a little time in the Deviant Art room checking out their business model and technology. If you don’t know about Deviant Art, well, let me tell you. It’s a community of artists from all over the world. Talk about harnassing the power of the web, well they’ve done it. 16 million members, 2.2 BILLION pageviews per month, 140,000 uploads per day (140 million to date), 12,000 new members per day, and an Alexa rating of 120! THAT’S AMAZING! Angelo, the CEO, has a pretty sweet deal going on with Deviant Art. Advertising revs, contest revs, subscription revenue, and selling art for the artists and splitting the revs. Quite the entreprenuer. That’s what happens when you solve a market problem and use the internet to do it. Website estimators value the site at $19 million, but knowing Angelo’s business model, I think they are way off. It wouldn’t surprise me if the site is making $50+ million. If not now, it shouldn’t be long before it does.

Day 4 begins tomorrow.

SXSW Day 1 and 2

Wow. What more can you say about the coolest web conference I’ve been able to attend. My first year attending SXSW and I must say it’s quite the scene. Probably more like a festival of web junkies than a traditional conference SXSW spans the Austin conference center and several surrounding hotels, restaurants and other various dives. In all reality, it has taken over downtown Austin from 9:00 in the morning until the wee hours of the night.

Nightlife
I’m not sure exactly how long it keeps going each night since most of my comrades turn into pumpkins somewhere around 9:00 and my only cohort pumpkinized a bit later at 10:30. However, tonight we were able to visit the Uship and Frog Design Parties. Uship was a treat with a nice band albeit a bit too loud for my taste. It was nice to see their offices and workspace. After Uship, we were off to Frog Design for a really long line to get in. I think we were in line for 45 minutes and wrapped around 3 sides of a 1 square block building. Yikes! It was worth it.

The Frog Design boasted a stellar creative atmosphere. After entering the building, you immediately saw big screen games and a particularly fun group game, the sequencer. On the sequencer, there were about 64 blocks. Standing on the blocks would produce different electronic sounds. Working as a group, you could make some pretty funky tunes.

Frog also developed some tech that heat mapped all the SXSW tweets going out during the party. You could see all the hot spots in downtown. Sadly, I could tell we weren’t at the most happening spot.

Before leaving, I noticed the “Hungry Birds Game” pitting 2 players against each other in hungry hippos style angry birds spin off. Very entertaining. On the way out the door, was the motion capture dance floor. I wasn’t in the mood to be motion captured, so I went with “that looks really cool” and called it a night.

Overall, it was a great evening. So what about the day?

Daytime Conference
Well, both days have been chocked full of great tidbits of info. What I would say is different about this conference than others that I’ve attended is that I feel like I’m being taught by my peers, and not be some upper echelon of web godhood. Just good solid, practical input and advice that really stretches your thinking on how you do things. I’ll share some notes and videos later.

3 more days to go. Amazing.