SXSWORLD February 2013


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Startup Culture Finds Home at Interactive, Looks Forward to V2V by Rachel Garber JENNIFER NOBLE The ambitious startups that flock to SXSW are at the center of this ecosystem. They pitch their product against each other in the popular SXSW Accelerator, hoping—if not for a win— to catch the eyes of entrepreneurs or investors. "The startup community comes out in force at SXSW," said Frank Gruber, CEO of Tech Cocktail and one of this year's panelists. "It is definitely a place to get your product out to the tastemakers of the industry for a sampling. From Twitter to Foursquare, we've seen products get found and be made at SXSW." Past successes, such as Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009 have helped make SXSW popular. Of course it is the dream of every startup to be the next big hit. Yet, an invaluable part of the experience for startups is forging connections with peers and taking part in the startup community. Networking at the Start Up Villiage during SXSW 2012 "It is a friendly place for hanging out with your tech startup friends from around the country," said Gruber, when asked about the startup community at SXSW. "Through SXSW, ollowing last year's SXSW Interactive, attendees had a hard I've also been able to meet with thought leaders. time reckoning what they had just experienced. Between the One of my favorite memories was having Texas-shaped waffles at the parties, crowds and endless events to choose from, the scale Driskill with a number of entrepreneurs, including Mint founder of the festival was overwhelming. Their ears were still ringing from Aaron Patzer, and Randi Zuckerberg, among others." Nike's dunk contest. Their pupils were dilated from interactive disGruber, who will attend his 7th SXSW this year, will be joining plays like PepsiCo's futuristic Zeitgeist phone booth. They mulled venture capitalists Nicole Glaros, Amy Millmand and Andy White over the presentations by keynotes and interviews with successful on the session "Not All Startup Accelerators Are Created Equal." entrepreneurs. They contemplated the new apps that were unveiled (such as the Isis Mobile Wallet, the joint venture of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon) and tried to reckon how the world around them was forever changed. The attendance count for 2012 came in at over 24,000 people, more than a 25% increase from the year before. Festivalgoers felt the impact of these numbers as they waited to catch shuttles or pick up their badges. They used competing technologies like Highlight and Sonar to find each other and keep track of programming. Each year's winner is likely to be a mainstream success, as was the case with GroupMe in 2011. Last year highlighted how important big business—no matter the industry, feels it is stay up on new technologies. Between the corporate sponsors, hungry entrepreneurs, and opportunistic investors, SXSW Interactive has grown dramatically from the grassroots, techie festival of its childhood. It is now a complex ecosystem in which every possible perspective of the tech Frank Gruber world interacts. F 28 SXSWORLD / FEBRUARY 2013

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