AWE is a Danish startup working on specializing in location based 3D audio augmented solutions. Recently AWE participated in SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, Texas. It was our first time at the huge festival and conference for interactive media, music and film. Below, we share a few tips about how to find a platform for your business and best take advantage of it, how to find the best places for networking, and how to deal with FOMO.
How to find a platform for you business and take advantage of it
The planning for SXSW starts early if you want to get the most out of it. A great starting point is finding a platform or community to be part of. You don’t have to be a one-company-army, but can use the shared network to get easier access to special events and interesting companies.
With the advice of the cluster network Danish Sound we reached out to experienced SXSW-goers from Finland. This year they were organizing the #NordicMade initiative that provided access to a shared booth at the Trade Show and the possibility of sharing a Texas-size house (the Nordic Clubhouse) with more than 20 other people from the Nordics. We decided to be part of #NordicMade and join the other startups in the Nordic Clubhouse with breakfast and beers included in the price.
Besides Nordic initiatives there’s also a lot of Facebook-group where you can hook up with other startups from your country before SXSW and joining their platform or creating something together. Many countries have their own booth at the Trade Show similar to the #NordicMade booth.
The Trade Show is placed inside the Austin Convention Center downtown and the size is quite big. Because of the massive interest in SXSW the price for a booth is the same – around $10.000 a day, but thanks to #NordicMade we essentially had it for free for four days. We used the platform to engage with passbyers from European museums interested in new ways for their visitors to experience their collections, Augmented Reality developers creating cinematic content from CieAR and a startup developing smart 3D audio headphones called Vinci that can be voice controlled. It is all people that we can collaborate with using Audio Augmented Reality and we are in dialogue with them all.
Sharing a house, food and beers with the Nordic startups made us some new friends in the Nordics and the possibility of joining national events, which turned out to be great for networking.
How to find the best places for networking
SXSW is a great place to network. People are very open and everyone is talking with anybody, that’s the beauty of it! You never know if the person standing next to you is the CEO of a succesful startup from Silicon Valley or a guy with a potentially great idea that hasn’t found a market yet.
Networking is happening everywhere at SXSW and the talks can be a good starting point for engaging with people, but the other free events all over town is as good to meet up with interesting people and companies. There was a rooftop party hosted by some of our new Swedish friends and soon found ourselves sharing a beer with the New York department of ustwo – a digital agency known for Monument Valley (mobile game).
Ustwo is also working with Virtual Reality (VR) and a wayfinder for blind people. We visited them later at their New York offices to share tips on 3D audio and to have a sneak peek at their current projects in VR. They have a lot of shared visions with us and we would love to collaborate some time in the future. This shows that the free events can be very useful for networking.
How to deal with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
In preparation for SXSW we spend time putting together the schedule with talks, events, expo visits and so on. We RSVP’ed to (signed up for) day and night parties where you can experience live music and get free drinks and food. The schedule quickly filled up and soon started to have a lot of overlapping events. There are so many great things happened all the time that you can easily be caught in FOMO – a term often used during SXSW. The phone was constantly buzzing with upcoming events from Eventbrite, Do512 or friends on WhatsApp.
We learnt that you need to ignore the buzzing phone and the schedule you have planned. Instead the strategy is to be ready to grasp whatever opportunity that shows itself. That led us to an unforgettable night involving Rodeo Austin and got us into a private Snoop Dogg concert. There will always be something that you will miss, but a lot of other things you will experience.
BONUS – reduce FOMO – get a powerbank!
You want the best possibility to be able to grasp the opportunities and we believe that a powerbank is a must-have at SXSW. Being able to find your way around town fast can be the difference between making a talk or not. Data enabled is a need-to-have for the same reasons. Being able to find your friends and join them on adventures are quite nice.