Get ready for SXSW16 – from Adelaide to Austin

This blog post has been written for the Feed Your Brain Session – USA Delegation 2016, presented by Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner at Workforce BluePrint for NVI Flinders.

Thanks for having me guys and I appreciate the live broadcast via Periscope.

If you are thinking about travelling with the delegation in March 2016 then let me check a few things with you first.

As South Australians do you think we should support each other?

And when it comes to opportunities and learning from the best, do you agree we should be looking at going global?

So if you think about it right now, you might be trying to grow, and you might be looking at international opportunities and realizing it is hard from South Australia.

Now whilst most of us love where we live, it means that we can’t just get on a plane for a few hours and meet big players in cities with millions of people.  It can be hard to get introductions and connections.

When you do get the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world it might be just you, maybe one other person travelling because it is expensive.  Whilst it’s tough, you know that it would be better going as part of a team, where the introductions have been paved for you.

And when you do go as part of a team, you know you’ll have people saying good luck today, you’ll do great, let me connect you here.  The people you are with want you to do well, they’ll meet people and make sure they introduce them to you.  Perhaps they will go to a session at SXSW16 and tell you all about it as they know you would love the content and the speakers.  Getting an intro, a meeting on the spot, links to other key people, comments and conversation via social media, maybe even a competition to get a selfie with a celebrity or author might result in amazing connections.

So if you are thinking about how can you build your business, get international exposure and partners, learn from the most cutting edge ideas in the world, how can you not go to where people go for just that?

Overwhelmingly, SXSW changed my thinking about what is possible.

Meeting Adelle from Grow Wellington on the NZ expo stand was one example of just this.  We had chat for about 10-15 minutes, exchanged contact details, followed up when we got home and it has turned into a workforce planning and development opportunity in Wellington, New Zealand for Workforce BluePrint.

After SXSW15 in Austin, Texas we hosted delegations from Bhutan and Philippines, travelled to Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia, met a delegation from Mongolia and Indonesia, and now we have partnerships developing across 20 countries.

SXSW Interactive has a number of different themes including:

  • Art, Science and Inspiration
  • Branding and Marketing
  • Content and Distribution
  • Design and Development
  • Entertainment and Immersion
  • Food and Experiential Dining
  • Gaming
  • Global Impact and Policy
  • Fashion and Wearable Tech Health and Med Tech
  • Intelligent Future
  • Social and Privacy
  • Sports
  • Startup and Village
  • Work and Career

To plan out your days you can use the SXSW app and/or mini printed program but be ready for lineups in registration and for big name key notes especially.

There are so many activities to choose from (around 30 options every hour):

  • Key notes – celebrities, authors, entrepreneurs
  • Book Readings
  • Chargers
  • Expo with 1350 exhibitors
  • Meetups
  • Mentor sessions
  • Lounges often with free catering
  • Panels
  • Pitch competitions
  • Social media – each session has a # & it’s important to be active on Twitter
  • Solo presentations
  • Workshops

There are after parties every night which you can follow via the app, some are included in the official program for others you can register via Eventbrite with some invite.

Going with the delegation from NVI Flinders next year, I’ve asked Matt Salier if he can hook up invitations to the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn parties.

Now onto some practical hints and tips

  1. Take antibiotics (get a letter from your doctor), pain relief, stuff for nose/throat soreness­, vitamins
  2. Food and drinks are mostly free or cheap but sprits are generally x2 strength
  3. Get a US mobile phone for around $50 including plan and internet using free WIFI where possible
  4. Sleep will be limited
  5. Smart casual dress is the dress code – I took too many dressy outfits and also make sure you pack sunscreen, a hat and umbrella
  6. Weather is variable so in one day you could wear a T-shirt to a jumper or jacket
  7. Wear walking shoes not heels!

For your travel and accommodation arrangements think through are you going to Austin (Adelaide’s sister city) only for SXSW or will you be extending your trip to New York or going prior to San Francisco.

Recently I booked an Adelaide – San Francisco return airfare for around $1100 AUD and I’ll use some of my frequent flyer points too.

Accommodation in Austin is best via a shared house/luxury rental but you’ll need to allow around $250-300 AUD/person/night.

So what to do next, well if you haven’t already done so then express your interest here ASAP for the startup tour of a lifetime.

Do your own research and check out information on the travel and accommodation packages plus remember this is probably something you can claim as a business and/or professional development expense.

Check out the dates for SXSW16 with Interactive on 11-15.3.16, Film 11-19.3.16 and Music 15-20.3.16 with Edu before all of that.

This is the best conference and event that I have ever been to – inspiring and a huge learning opportunity but you need to be open minded and ready to experience it!

December 2015

PS. Make sure you register your interest in the trip, share this blog post tagging @waperry from @WorkforcePlan and @NVIFlinders, tweet @JayWeatherill, @kymaher, @sxsw, @StateDevSA to encourage more startups to come with us as well as @CityofAdelaide and sister city @austintexasgov.

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