I had a great pleasure of paying a week long visit to South by South West event in Austin, Texas in May 2016. My first thoughts on scene were that the interesting mixture of music, film and interactive events created a relaxed environment for people to present their companies and find common goals in their future business.
My plan was to find initial media partners for Choicely, as we are about to launch a next level voting service and bringing added value to media houses helps us grow our brand. I had pre arranged meetings with potential investors and innovation & digital officers of media houses to present our new technology. Another great set of meetings came out of mingling with the people in the venue. Sooner than I thought, I found myself chatting with media representatives in NBC Sports lawn on the very first morning on scene. People were sitting on grass in casual clothes, playing outdoor games and having beers while presenting themselves and their businesses. A home-like environment with music, sunshine and a +30°C temperature welcomed a friendly atmosphere to discuss personal matters and business opportunities regardless of people's backgrounds.
The contrast to a traditional inside event where startups meet investors & potential clients was obvious from the very first moments.
1-minute walk from NBC Sports Lawn boasted the Nordic Light House - a temporary setting around Waller Creek Boathouse at the end of Trinity street, by Colorado River. Around 100 Nordic startups were using the spot as a base for meetings, investor events, location for spontaneous meet ups and as a hang around place between the Interactive events. Finpro had made the arrangements in collaboration with the other Nordic export boosting organizations.
With extreme contrast to the Convention Center where the busiest meetings took place, The Nordic Light House offered a relaxed environment to meet people by a cup of coffee on a sunny terrace facing the Colorado River. It offered a perfect getaway place for anyone seeking a break from the busy halls of endless company stands with loud noise and office lighting. Most of my meetings lasted over an hour, even if we had agreed on a 20 minute slot in a startup event spirit. An ultimate product like Choicely has it´s part to play of course ;) By the end of the day, we do plan to forever change the way people vote with a cool new product.
I talked with many other entrepreneurs from the Nordics who had the privilege of meeting their potential investors, clients and partners during the sunny days of South by South West. Most seemed to enjoy their time like me and find great leads from all fields, hopefully reaching their business goals.
Summing up the stay in Austin, I hope that the future will offer similar chances to new entrepreneurs from Finland and other Nordic countries. South by South West 2016 was a different, great experience to me and many others entrepreneurs who care to explore new grounds for their businesses and invest their money and time - especially in the US. I have to pay my sincere respects to the organizers of the South by South West: well done!
For me and my company Choicely, South by South West was a worthy week of meeting new people which definitely brought great business leads, new friends and most of all an overall experience of a business event mixed with a music & film festival :)
Kaius Meskanen, CEO