Startups are at heart of South by Southwest Interactive

Startups are the heartbeat of South by Southwest Interactive.

The festival draws thousands of entrepreneurs, startups and investors from around the world, all looking to connect. The energy and buzz that creates is contagious, but the sheer magnitude of panels, keynotes and startup competitions can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, figuring out where to start has gotten easier. Startup Village, which debuted at the 2012 festival, consolidates entrepreneur-related programming into one place, the Hilton Downtown Austin.

That’s where you’ll find panel discussions that delve into every aspect of the startup ecosystem, from choosing a technology incubator for your startup to finding the right investors to deciding whether to sell your company or go for the gold. There will also be meet ups, demos and lounges for hanging out.

Some attendees find it easiest to show up and wander, going wherever the conversations lead them. But there are some programs worth hitting if you’re looking for insight into the state of innovation in 2016.

For me, that means the SXSW Accelerator pitch competition is a must. In its eighth year, the two-day event starts on Saturday with 48 interactive technology companies taking the stage before an audience and panel of judges, including billionaire Robert Smith of Austin-based Vista Equity Partners.

This year, 470 companies from around the globe applied to participate. According to SXSW officials, the highest percentage of applicants came from Austin, San Francisco, New York and Chicago. Internationally, companies from countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Korea and France vied for a spot.

(Three Austin startups earned spots on the stage: Bitfusion; which develops application enhancing software; PopUpPlay, which builds toys from childrens’ designs and Thrillbox, a media analytics platform.)

Another event at Startup Village that showcases new technology is ReleaseIt at SXSW, a competition that takes place on Friday featuring 10 companies launching new products or services during the 2016 SXSW festival. A panel of industry experts will choose a winner based on which product or service is most likely to succeed in the marketplace.

I also plan to check out Startup Village’s International Programming track, which is new this year and makes sense considering that the festival now draws a large contingent of entrepreneurs from around the globe. The track includes panel sessions highlighting global entrepreneurial ideas, trends and startup resources.

So that’s my plan. But I understand where people like Austin entrepreneur Richard Bagdonas are coming from when they choose to wing it.

Bagdonas, who recently launched a new medical software company, plans to spend some time at both Startup Village and JW Marriott, which is hosting the SX Health & MedTech Expo.

Rather than trying to get attention for his company, MI7, Bagdonas says he’ll focus on meeting potential customers, partners and investors.

“It’s really hard in recent years to get your signal above the noise, so we’re not trying that,” he said. “South by is really about the parties, that’s where the networking happens. That’s where the fun is.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

How easy is it to #DeleteFacebook? Advice from some who’ve disconnected
How easy is it to #DeleteFacebook? Advice from some who’ve disconnected

SEATTLE — Facebook’s image has taken a beating the past couple of years. First it was the Russians buying ads to try and influence U.S. elections, followed by the news that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission and used it to help Donald Trump become president...
Customers want more tech, fewer people

Get out of our way. That’s the message customers have for merchants looking to improve their in-store experience, according to a new study of more than 2,900 adults and children in the U.S. and Canada. The survey, conducted winter by HRC Retail Advisory, found that a majority of buyers prefer to be left alone to browse while shopping and would...
How listening to random sound can unlock a trapped mind
How listening to random sound can unlock a trapped mind

LOS ANGELES – David Tobin took to the stage at a recent technology conference in downtown Los Angeles, asked the 500 attendees to close their eyes, and turned up the sound so they could sample his wares: a textured, layered soundscape that he calls an “audiojack.” A thousand eyes clamped shut as they collectively heard a ball thudding...
Best AV receivers for 2018
Best AV receivers for 2018

So you’ve got the high-def, wide-screen, 4K video television, multiple surround speakers and a subwoofer the size of a dorm fridge. You’re almost there — but if you want the full home theater experience, you need an AV receiver to ride herd on all of it. These are the four best models CNET has reviewed over the last year. —&mdash...
‘Yakuza 6’ a modern chapter in need of one vital update
‘Yakuza 6’ a modern chapter in need of one vital update

Jumping into the “Yakuza” series right now is a tricky proposition. Sega’s long-running underworld crime saga has been out for more than a decade and has several chapters that follow the exploits of legendary gangster Kazuma Kiryu. The developers have been trying to get both new and longtime fans into the series with a two-pronged...
More Stories