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SXSW: Lessons Learned, Networking and Interviews

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: Seth Rogen and Garth Ennis speak on a panel at AMC’s PREACHER at SXSW Panel Discussion and Red Carpet with Seth Rogen, Sam Catlin and Garth Ennis on March 11, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for AMC)

SXSW just wrapped up and we had a blur of a time interviewing, experiencing, and eating our way through it. I wanted to share my experience with you all and know that most of the interviews and access that I had was granted by relationships and cold emails. You’d be surprised at how many people actually respond to those “contact organizer” links at the bottom of the event pages. If you weren’t able to make it to SXSW this year hopefully us sharing our experience will that void.

Day 1

It’s a hectic Friday in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, GA, the busiest airport in the world as I make my way to SXSW one of the largest festivals in the world. I’m not a fan of the herd mentality of Southwest airlines, but the price was fantastic, so there I stood at A44 waiting to board. There’s a lot of chatter about SXSW among the groups in line—where to go, panels, parties, and transportation. Wheels are up and I lean against the window with my headphones on listening to a podcast. I wake up and it’s time to do 20 hour days with tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Since Austin booted Uber and Lyft, I’m forced to use ridesharing apps that I’ve never heard of before. I head into town getting ready to meet with my team but not without having one good meal before I go.

Then it begins… I run down my schedule with my crew, as they get big-eyed about the amount of hustle that will have to happen. Our first stop is the Kasita House. We pop in to meet up with a friend of mine, Jeff Wilson, founder of Kasita, and someone who decided to live in a dumpster for a year to prove his MVP (minimal valuable product) for Kasita—talk about dedication. Jeff has come a long way since we met four years ago. As he shows me this 350 sq.ft. high-end, portable living quarters, I feel like I’m on an episode of cribs. We talk the future of housing while we listen to the Migos. The next day Kasita was throwing a launch party to take deposits on their new houses starting at $139,000. Jeff tells me that they’ll ship these houses wherever you want them to and set them up. He then asks me “Do you know someone with a backyard?”

We’re on a tight time schedule and I’ve had two rides cancel on these new ridesharing apps, so I head to the pedicab garage. They ask where I’m going and look at two guys over 200lbs carrying camera equipment. The first guy says “not it” while the second guy asks me if I was a generous person. As we hop into his pedicab, I instantly see the regret on his face as we head uphill to the YEC and Hooch event.

YEC (young entrepreneurs council) is an invitation-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. A friend of mine, Morgan, also known as the wrangler of all of YEC, posted about the events that they had going on over the weekend. I have our pedicab driver drop us off halfway up the big hill of South Congress in fear of him passing out on us and head to the event. We walk in a bit early to a bed and breakfast with a conglomerate of air streamers. I find Morgan and she says, “whatever you need let me know.” We start scouting the place for best camera positions for the panel with DJ Envy, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Ja Rule. The place starts to fill as we grab tech-themed drinks such as “burn rate,” which is equivalent to an old fashion, brought to you by Hooch, a drink membership startup that offers their members one free drink a day at certain bars.

DJ Envy from the popular morning show called the Breakfast Club is the moderator of the panel and is asking Gary V and Ja Rule questions that the entrepreneurs in the crowd want answers to.