I have spent the last 24 hours reflecting on my first SXSW experience and I wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations.
SXSW is one of the largest tech and media conferences in America. Almost every major tech and media company in the world sends representatives to SXSW to learn, meet and evangelize their product or service. Prior to arriving, I envisioned thousands of people gathered in hotel conference rooms and banquet halls talking about blockchain, AR/VR and other hot tech trends. While people were certainly talking about the hot tech trends, the events were actually hosted in hipster bars, houses and hotels throughout downtown Austin. These naturally comfortable and casual locations allowed conversations to be authentic and intriguing. Over the course of our 5 day stay, we probably visited close to 20 different locations and spoke with people from backgrounds ranging from venture capital, blockchain, VR/AR, healthcare, music, food, sports, social media and enterprise software. Fortunately for us, we could talk to each of these people as if they were potential clients because each of these companies has/needs a better website or app and is interested in applying emerging technology like AR/VR.
As a person that normally goes to bed around 9:15pm (10:00pm if I’m getting really crazy), I found myself a little bit tired going to bed around 2:00am most nights. Not only were we late to bed, but we also early to rise. In order to attend as many meetings, events and parties as possible, we started early and ended late, but weirdly, it was kind of exhilarating to have such a full schedule. The whole experience felt very start up-like because we barely slept, ate a lot of food (great food but pretty unhealthy) and lived in a house with five other guys. So fun!
Here are all of the celebrities we saw: Snoop Dogg (with blunt in mouth while performing), Elon Musk (Eden tried to take a picture but security grabbed his arm told him no), Marc Benioff, Gary Vaynerchuck, Baron Davis (Eden loves to ball it up!), Fat Joe (wore amazing red sweat pants with the Mona Lisa on the leg), Jim Gaffigan, Ashton Kutcher (hosted the event with most of the people on this list), Guy Oseary and Lewis Howes. While I am not normally too stargazed, I was certainly inspired to see these moguls standing next to me.
Despite seeing many star-studded professionals (mentioned above), the majority of the people we met were high performing investors, entrepreneurs and managers. Many of the people offered great conversations and intriguing opportunities for Fishermen Labs, but each of those connections mean nothing if they stop at SXSW. The ability to follow up and maintain a relationship with the majority of those people is key. By listening to the problems that each of those people were facing in their company, it makes it easy to reach out and introduce them to someone that can help solve their particular problem. Although some of those people might end up being customers of Fishermen Labs, 99% will not. It is very important to me that I provide value in some form or fashion, even if I personally never benefit. I believe all relationships end up coming full-circle and I am 100% certain I will need advice from some of those people at a future point in my career.
While I don’t think we missed anything notable (besides the WestWorld exhibit which was only available if you applied through the Lyft app and they chose you), next year at SXSW I want to build out a more detailed scheduled before hand with only the best events (most were great, some were weak). Since I gained some very valuable connections on this trip, I will definitely make sure to reach out to people that were super well connected to the “elite events” and get invited to the more secluded house parties that are not publicized. I would also make sure to do more growth-hacking for Fishermen Labs (we saw the brand “Chief” print out ~1,000 stickers and place them all around the city).
Overall, SXSW was a great trip and I think it is going to reap some rewards for Fishermen!