While you’re reading this, nearly a half million people are swarming downtown Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, a celebration of music, film, connectivity, and technology.
Attending this amazing conference/festival may just change your life. Here’s why.
1. Startup village
Dedicated to sessions for start-ups, soloprenuers, small business seed stage (AKA I started a business in my garage), and successful innovators; an entire hotel is transformed into a mecca of small business learning called Startup Village. Startup Village sessions, meet ups and workshops are focused on helping you learn how to run, scale and fund your business. Almost every session speaks directly to the needs of the small business owner.
Startups vie for a chance to be part of the SXSW Accelerator competition for the opportunity it brings — 41% of the companies that have participated in the first two competitions received funding after the event. Only 40 companies are selected, but that doesn’t mean your startup can’t make a splash in Austin. Just being at SXSWi and exposing a solid product to the conference’s 14,000 attendees and a 1,500-person-strong media swarm can ignite a business.
2. Incredible speakers
Sessions from world famous experts like Kathy Savitt, the CMO of Yahoo, is worth the trip alone. They will transform the way you visualize and operate your business. The 2014 Keynote lineup of speakers included: Chelsea Clinton, Austin Kleon, Anne Wojcicki and more.
Previous Keynotes at SXSW Interactive have included Bruce Sterling, Nate Silver, Mark Zuckerberg, Ev Williams, Jennifer Pahlka, Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell, Richard Florida, Al Franken, Al Gore, Amber Case, Stewart Brand and assorted other big-picture innovators. Need we say more? If you’re looking to get inspired, informed and maybe a little star-struck the key-notes will certainly be worth your while.
3. The SXSW Music Festival
The SXSW Music Festival is one of the largest and most influential global music industry events of the year. Each year the SXSW Music Festival hosts a comprehensive mix of brand new, up-and-coming, international, and legendary artists performing in bars, clubs, parks, churches, hotels, and just about everywhere else you can imagine around Austin, Texas.
Not limited in genre or region, audiences can enjoy a vast variety of musical styles at SXSW. At the 2016 edition, over 67 countries were represented amongst the 2,200-plus official performers.
Record labels, booking agencies, management and PR firms, export offices, publishers, media outlets, lifestyle brands, festivals, and more curate showcases with brand new, developing and established talent looking to enhance their careers, gain unparalleled promotional exposure, and reach new audiences.
SXSW Music registrants enjoy primary access to official showcases, Conference programming, and more, encouraging the networking, discovery, and exposure of these amazing musicians to industry attendees.
At virtually any hour of the day, there is a networking event to attend. The day begins with optional networking runs then continues on with specialized meet-ups, ask the experts, mentoring one-on-ones, industry-related cocktail parties, and topic lounges to recharge. These events are continuous throughout the day and night.
One could spend their entire time at SXSW simply networking, making connections to sell their business. In addition to building business-altering relationships, you could also meet a personal hero. The opportunities to come face to face with your favorite authors and get a book signed are unrivaled bucket list moments.
5. Inspiration = Innovation
Being immersed in a saturated think-tank of ideas and strategies to improve your business will turn into innovation that is hard to get elsewhere. Almost by osmosis, you will feel yourself becoming a more capable small business owner, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. So make plans next year to go enjoy a couple days of throwing your HLAs (high-level activities) to the wind.
Get inspired. Innovate. Network. Learn from people with the vista of experience and success that have been where you are and pushed beyond. Invest in your business by attending SXSW. You will be glad you did.
SXSW 2017 started March 10th and will continue until March 19th.
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