SXSWi Recap from My Perspective
Improving on a Good Thing?Having said that, what can the conference do to improve?
- Provide better food options during lunch time. Lots of food options. Austin is practically the capital of airstream-trailer-food, as well as live music, so why not bring a fleet of these vehicles to both the front- and back-side of the convention center (Trinity and Red River) to handle the mad rush of business between the end of the 11am sessions and the beginning of the 12:30pm sessions. Also, wouldn’t be a bad idea to convince Fogo de Chao and some other local restaurants to open for lunch for a change.
- Better descriptions of the panels. As we get closer to the event and you have to choose, it would really help to have a better understanding of the panels being offered, but some of them had woefully inadequate descriptions.
- Group panels not just by location (which helps!) but also by topic-grouping, so that it is easier to find the kinds of things you want to know more about.
- Provide a couple time slots that have fewer sessions to drive some traffic to the exhibit floor, or give more people time for lunch (whichever).
- Pick the keynote speakers (or interviewers) carefully. Its a tough job, and a tough crowd. Give the folks who do this a chance to succeed!
- If there are shuttles, etc., make that information more obvious.
Highlights for me:I really enjoyed hearing from speakers across a number of topics:
- How some bloggers make money from doing this, and what drives them
- How people feel about yelp, and how it affects the way restaurants run their business. Note to businesses who don’t think yelp applies to them: there is a site called “Get Satisfaction” that has an even more aggressive version of a very similar business model.
- How good speakers can weave entertaining presentations from *ANY* set of slides put in front of them (battle decks presentation showdown)
- Interesting startups like AnyClip (although, this one will diminish the value of my encyclopedic quoting knowledge of certain movies), I-nigma (2D barcode scanning, so fast its hard to believe it works), ShopSavvy (price comparison using barcode scanning), and Siri, which is a voice-activated application that integrates well with a bunch of other services on your phone – it literally feels like magic. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
- Despite all the advice to the contrary, whenever a panel of judges asks a startup presenter to tell them about their competition, they answer “well, no one does exactly what we do, but here are a few that some people might consider competitors”… I guess if you’re mostly giving these answers instead of saying them, you don’t realize how much this undermines your credibility. For example, for Siri, I would have responded that “Google Voice Search and voice-activated dialing and voice-activated reminders are all competing for our users’ attention and overlap with our application. We need to create a more compelling experience to draw them away and part of how we do that is by allowing the user to do MORE with voice activation, and part of how we do that is by providing better voice analysis, which is actually quite hard.”
- Some people in Austin are doing great things with their businesses. Entrepreneurship is alive and well in our town.