SXSWi 2013 Experience
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Note: I realize this post is incredibly late. I’ve been super busy the past month and haven’t had a chance to post. Apologies.
This year was my first year to go to SXSW Interactive. And boy, what a whirlwind it was. My bosses had warned my co-worker, Michael (another first timer), and I how exhausting it would all be, but man… I was SPENT.
The entire experience was truly awesome though. Friday night, the first night we were there, I kind of sat back and observed. I’m not the best networker in the world (understatement of the week), so when I’m at events where you’re surrounded by really intelligent, important folks in the industry, I like to spend a while taking notes on how others are approaching strangers and introducing themselves. Introvert central.
We did, however, get to tour the new digs of Edeleman’s Austin office. Such a great office space… and the tiny orderves didn’t hurt either. After that, I accompanied Michael and headed over to the strip of gay bars in Austin to go the the Big Gay Kickoff Party at Oilcan Harry’s. I’m pretty sure the drink I got was made of pure sugar. Then we headed on over to Dogwood on South Congress for the Edelman Nightcap party. So many parties. All the parties. I’m going to ahead and just mention the noteworthy ones.
One of the best mornings of the trip went down on Saturday morning. We had gotten a tip to follow Elon Musk on Twitter, and as it turns out, he was making a surprise visit to the new Tesla store in Austin. Enter: Speeding to The Domain to make sure we arrive in time. Less than 10 minutes upon arrival, up drives Elon Musk! If you don’t know who this guy is, he’s the founder of Tesla Motors (the first long range electric cars) and Space X (the first (and only) independent company to send a rocket that attached to the International Space Station). He was also a co-founder of Paypal before that. He’s my boyfriend’s hero, long story short.
He pulled up in what must’ve been an Austin owner’s Model S, did some Q&A with the crowd, and then (thanks to Michael’s shoving), I got to meet him and grab a photo with Elon Musk. Dudes. Big deal.
That night got a little ridiculous. Half of SXSWi is the parties and the drinks. So there were lots of drinks. And the same can be said for the next night. Sunday night ended with us stealing a Grumpy Cat poster… and it seemed like a great idea at the time. Throughout the rest of the week I ended up ditching my DSLR and sticking to an iPhone. It was just too bulky to carry around for 14 hours. If you’re considering bringing one next year, be warned. It gets tiring.
At some point, my co-worker ended up running into Macklemore shopping on South Congress. That area is amazing. So much to see and do! I’m not fully awake in this photo – everything had started to feel like a dream at this point.
Since most of SXSW takes place smack in the middle of downtown Austin, I definitely recommend Franks Hot Dogs. I’ve known about this place for what seems like ages simply for their graphic design. Their murals are kind of well known on design blogs. But the food? Yeah, that’s good too.
Anyway, a few tips and tricks I learned:
- Don’t wear brand new boots to SXSWi. Your feet will hate you for it.
- Only carry the bare minimum. I thought I could be all cool by bringing lots of “what if” items in my backpack… turns out I really didn’t need any of it and my shoulders hated me for it.
- Bring a backpack, not a messenger bag. Weight distribution, y’all.
- PHONE BATTERY PACKS. Seriously. At the very least, get one of the external battery chargers. Your phone will die. You are on it all day.
- Take advantage of the open bars. You’re bound to make so many more friends that way.
- It’s all about the parties. The true networking goes down when people are just hanging out in a non-learning environment.
- Seriously, don’t wear new boots.