I was blessed to attend my third SXSW this year and it has been a couple of years since I attended. I recalled last year hearing the news of the fatalities while I was overseas. I definitely felt the difference in this year’s conference. There were many more policemen. Nevertheless, it was a great conference as usual.
One of the hottest spots was the new JW Marriott. There was never a dull moment in the hotel. I could tell the restaurant staff were overwhelmed as there was no break from sunsrise to sunset. The JW Marriott Austin is the largest (and newest) in North America and the 2nd largest in the world. It was a beautiful hotel, but still very new. All kinks were worked out during this event. I even passed Mark Cuban there and wished I thought of something to pitch.
A couple of places kept me taken care of on a food perspective. Gigya had lunch and dinner on 6th street. They even threw in some live entertainment. There was also a restaurant near the convention center rented out by the Washington, DC economic development council. They fed as well but promoted a very convincing program to live in DC free for 3 months (the application was due March 22nd @ wwww.wedchouse.com). The start-up company will be selected on April 3rd.
A strong theme at Interactive was 3-D printing. I attended several sessions learning about 3-D printing and how it will impact industries such as healthcare, fashion and manufacturing. In addition, my favorite session was about blogging and branding. It was hosted by Indiana Adams and Bethany Joy Clark. I was there early and still was standing for most of the session. At the very end, I was able to grab a seat as people were leaving early. Lucky me, that seat allowed me to win a new Toms Handbag (more like a backpack). There were only 15 of us that won. I LOVE my new bag.
This year there seemed to be many sessions that were very full and if you were not early, you were not able to get in. There were also many secret parties. I was able to get in on a “secret” Facebook and Uber party…but still am salty about not being able to see D’Angelo. Another surprise and highlight was a Houston meet up sponsored by the Houston Business Journal and The Greater Houston Partnership. I was so happy to connect with Houstonians. We filled up our poolside room quickly.
SXSW has always propelled me into a sneak peak of what’s to come. If you have not checked out Meerkat, that is supposed to be the next hot thing (though there are others that beg to differ). Though, I was sad to leave before SXSW Music started, I definitely did not leave without a headful of knowledge. I look forward to the next time I can attend and fellowship.