Guest post by Denver Hutt
March is the almost perfect month. There’s a holiday for nearly everyone: for the math inclined there’s Pi Day (3/14), the sports enthusiast: March Madness (3/13-4/2) the literary scholar: The Ides of March (3/15), the historian: St. Patrick’s Day (3/17). For the tech, music and film scene, there’s South By Southwest (3/9-3/18).
This year marks my first time celebrating SXSW, and quite frankly, I couldn’t be more excited.
Drawing nearly 50,000 people to Austin, SXSW started in 1987 as a music festival showcasing country, folk, jazz, blues, rock and everything in between. A grassroots effort to generate interest in the local music scene quickly became a launchpad to national and international success for performing musicians. In 1994, SXSW expanded to include the film and interactive components now just as much a part of the celebrations..
Sounds simple enough, right? Fly to Austin, check out some panels, listen to some shows and crash some parties.
Given my own experience in the technology and startup scenes (and as a non-native Hoosier), I know Indianapolis is quickly breaking out of our long worn “flyover state” reputation and establishing itself as a place where things are happening. With the Speak Easy, a new coworking hotspot, and companies like uFlavor, Miss Pivot and Quipol drawing national media attention, SXSW is an opportunity for the local entrepreneurial community to band together as creatives, doers and people that can make change happen in a big way.
The official SXSW website suggests thinking “of South by Southwest (SXSW) as a nine-day marketplace of ideas, relationships, and products for the Music, Interactive Media, and Film industries”. With official and unofficial events, panels, parties and performances popping up all over the city it is a chance to make a name for your organization, company, band, brand and self. The possibilities are unlimited.
And we’re working to show the SXSW community what we’re made of.
There before it was even cool, organizations like Small Box, KA+A, and Verge have diligently laid the groundwork for the rest of us to leave our mark on SXSW. I’m looking for their advice as I start packing my bags.
How do I get the most of my experience? Find and network with influencers? Get into the best sessions? With such a limited time to experience everything the event has to offer, and so much on the line, let’s help each other capitalize on the experience.
For the Austin-bound there’s a preSXSW Indy Kickoff event coming up on March 5 – just days before we hit the road to Texas – and I’d love to see you there. Complete with a swag swap (because you can’t have enough locally-branded shirts, buttons and sticks), panel discussion (How to get your ROI from South By) and chance for networking between SXSW rookies (that’s me!) and vets, I can’t wait to experience the magic of SXSW – and I know it’ll be a whole lot better with your help.
Have you been to SXSW before? What’s your best advice? What were your favorite must-attend events and panels?
A born Californian but Hoosier at heart, Denver Hutt moved to Indianapolis in 2009, where she tapped into her entrepreneurial side and joined the local startup community. With a passion for connecting people and organizing events, Denver has served in marketing, outreach and event organizer roles for a number of organizations. You can follow her activities at @denverallison.