Wow…what a weekend! I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the South by Southwest (SXSW) 2009 Interactive Conference this past Friday through Tuesday (March 13-17) along with David Link and Alise Johnson (and many others which I will explain in a little while). The conference was a great opportunity for me to get out of the office for a few days to learn, meet, greet, and be inspired. The SXSW experience was truly amazing because of three main reasons:
1. The Y@T PACK from New Orleans
Net2NO, led by Damien LaManna, Tiffany Starnes, and Jessica Rohloff, is a group of young professionals dedicated to social change in New Orleans. The group puts a special emphasis on technology and economic development and they meet once a month to share ideas, collaborate on projects, and learn from special presentations by industry professionals. I joined Net2NO a few months ago and have greatly benefited from the gatherings. This group’s enthusiasm, creativity, and general concern for their community is truly contagious.
The Net2NO crew decided that we would charter a bus and go to the SXSW Interactive Conference as a group to let everyone know that not only is New Orleans open for business but also that the state is a thriving place for digital creatives and technology entrepreneurs to start or expand a business. With the help of awesome sponsors, we purchased booth space at the tradeshow armed with materials on Louisiana’s Digital Interactive Media Tax Credits for technology businesses, Angel Investment Tax Credits for start-ups, and personal success stories. We had a daily drawing at 5:04pm to give away weekend stays at the W Hotel New Orleans and a free registration to WordCamp NOLA in New Orleans, LA. (coming up April 10-11… David Link is a panelist… more info to come! )
Personally, I loved working the tradeshow booth because I saw so many people get instantly engaged in the idea of moving their businesses to New Orleans. I would mention the tax credits, the cost of living, the amazing culture, and the overall quality of life in New Orleans…and I would see people’s faces light up with excitement. I firmly believe that Net2NO will get at least one business to actually move their firm to New Orleans as a result of attending the SXSW conference.
Of course, it wasn’t all work all the time. We had to throw a New Orleans party and show Austin a good time! On the night of Monday, March 16, the Y@T PACK rounded up a few hundred people at Lucky Lounge to listen to DJ Othertempo, a.k.a. Elliott Adams, who is also the Director of the Digital Interactive Office in the Louisiana Economic Development Department, and Austin Nights Brass Band. The amazing party was organized by young arts enthusiast, Andrew Larimer.
2. The SXSW Presentation / Panels
Of course, this was the meat of the conference. I had the opportunity to attend many beneficial keynote presentations and panels that discussed a variety of topics that will help further my career and ultimately provide a better product to my clients. On Saturday, I attended a presentation by Robert Hoekman, Jr. entitled “The 7 Rules of Great Web App Design.” It was a well-done presentation, and I’ll expand on his 7 rules in a future blog entry. Later that day I also attended panels that included design greats such as Jeffrey Zeldman and Jason Santa Maria.
By far my favorite presentation was by Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary has built a $60M business with his light-hearted and fun video blog “The Wine Library.” Gary had a tremendous impact on me, so I’ll have a comprehensive blog entry coming up that recaps his talk. Stay tuned!
3. The Support for New Orleans Entrepreneur Chris Schultz of Voodoo Ventures
Net2NO member, Chris Schultz of Voodoo Ventures, moderated a panel at SXSW called “Outsourcing 2.0: Is the World Flat or Not?” The interactive format included Q&A with other panelists, including New Orleans developer Matt Tritico, Sandeep Sood of Monsoon Multimedia in Silicon Valley and Andrea Azdril of Startech Global in Los Angeles. The room was packed with entrepreneurs, developers, and designers full of questions on the topic. Schultz did an exceptional job, and it really made me proud to see a New Orleans entrepreneur leading a discussion on a very important topic at a major tech conference. I had a tremendous sense of pride during the presentation, and I feel privileged to share both a business relationship and friendship with Chris. If you don’t know Chris yet, you need to get on it.
So, there you have it folks. I had the time of my life. I cannot wait until next year!
**Did you go to SXSW? Briefly share your exciting moments from SXSW with us below in the comments area!**