A Guide to SXSW: Comfy Shoes, Carbs & Caffeine

So my time in Austin for SXSW with Hello Soda is over and despite the overwhelming need to sleep for three days straight, it has been incredible.

For us techies, it all kicked off on Thursday 8th March and continued non-stop until, well, now. While the trade show ran from Sunday through to Wednesday, the Friday and Saturday before presented many opportunities not to be missed (a highlight for me being the Startup Crawl, brimming with innovative new businesses and likeminded attendees... not to mention the free drinks...)

Less than 24 hours after landing, Phil and Jack found a ping pong table...

Renowned for our ping-pong league back in the UK HQ, we couldn't resist launching the international league when we spotted this table in the crawl... spoiler alert they were just as good (/bad) as they are in the UK.

After an incredibly busy Friday, Saturday was spent setting up for the trade show while my colleagues took advantage of the conference sessions that their Interactive badges allowed access to. Thanks to Industrious (where our Austin office is based), we were well prepared for days on our feet - top tip: wear trainers.

 

Barely seeing the inside of the apartment meant I was constantly on the go, but the resources available for exhibitors and attendees are enough to keep you going (you just need to know where to find them.) Coffee and pastries were constantly available in the exhibitor lounge in the trade show, and a bonus of being part of Industrious is the breakfasts and afternoon refreshments put out each working day. It's safe to say I will need a break from coffee for a while and I don't think I will need any more cake or pizza for weeks.

If you haven't attended before, the trade show runs from Sunday to Wednesday, 10am - 6pm (ending at 2pm on Wednesday). The first two days promised a constant flow of traffic and many conversations, uncovering new challenges of businesses and discovering new applications for our solutions that we may not otherwise have found. Tuesday and Wednesday were predictably quieter but the meaningful discussions we experienced meant that the entire period was worthwhile participating in. The hours standing in one place can be gruelling so try to organise break opportunities with your colleagues to stretch your legs and have a sit down (I'll say this again.. wear trainers!)

A bonus of attending the festival is that there is so much going on (maybe too much) so you never struggle to find something to do in the evening. While my colleagues enjoyed the perks of being badge-holders (including Steve Aoki headlining the closing party), I went on the search for some free music and was not disappointed. Take some time to search the free, unofficial events going on before you travel and plan a couple of priorities. Once you find one it's easy to find the others (you can sleep when you get back home right?)

Now it's time for a few days of focus and follow-up planning. Hopefully see you next year SXSW!

 

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Author Lana Yaffe