“So how many internets (sic) did you sell today?” - This was the tongue-in-cheek question we asked of one another over dinner each evening under the vast Texas sky.
Surely SXSW is the perfect place to sell internets and absorb what the world of tech has to say about trends for the coming year?
30 000 people swell the local population of downtown Austin, Texas for the annual interactive week of "South by" as it’s known to locals and attendees alike.
The mix is rich. I met developers from India, strategists from Oz, ad folk from LA, jazz moguls from Copenhagen, designers from Dallas, loonies with magnifying head boxes from South Korea and even the self proclaimed Beyonce of Tech from Shoreditch - where else?
As a business we were proud to up our SXSW game this year. TheTin was represented by six of our team. Accompanying myself and co-founder, Jamie were Comms Manager, Hatty; Senior Strategist, Dave; Developer, Grant and Designer, Daisy.
Following TheTin's inaugural trip last year we wanted to share the love with the business. We looked to do so in the most democratic way we could. We ran a competition.
Knowing the amount of information there is to be absorbed the focus of the comp was to identify our social media superstars. The challenge ran over three months and our team were tasked with hunting down content relevant to our current tech pillars, craft and share via the company’s social media channels. A points system was devised and tied into a bespoke social media dashboard.
At the end of the 3 months the team members with the highest points tally were gifted SXSW Interactive passes, flights and accommodation for a week in Austin plus a SXSW Survival Kit including hot sauce, blister plasters, battery charger, sun cream and Berocca. Cool prize, huh?
The competition worked a treat. The team jumped in wholesale and documented session upon session across social whilst collating a wealth of info to be presented back to our team and partners in a SXSW Tinnovation Special on 30th March. Tickets are available here.
Another new experience of SXSW 2017 was our participation in a Trade Mission by invitation of the UK Government’s Department of International Trade.
Our first 3 days were spent in Great Britain House meeting, greeting, pitching and presenting a product we developed with half an eye on SXSW, Band Explorer VR.
Borne out of a Tinnovation session (our monthly R&D gatherings) Band Explorer VR is a Spotify-connected music discovery tool developed by our team to answer the question “What task would be easier in VR than a traditional interface?” We dove in and built a web app that works on your computer and across all major VR platforms. It’s pretty cool, check it out here.
It was also the perfect product to showcase at SXSW with it's overlap of music and tech and people loved it: “How much are you selling it for?” Was the question we were asked on numerous occasions and the answer was “It’s free, knock yourself out!”
As a business what we are really interested in is the application of the tech in different business cases. Any exploration of big data in a VR space can be beneficial, examples discussed over the week included shopping, stocks, places, events, sports teams, in fact any sort of data exploration.
I was invited to discuss the project and the future of VR in a live broadcast panel at Great Britain House and enjoyed chewing the virtual fat with the RETNE team and host Jimmy Conrad. Hear me explain what Band Explorer VR is here.
Probably the most inspiring person I met over the week was The Mayor of Tech, Fred Schmidt.
Recently awarded an MBE for twinning Austin and Hackney as tech hubs of note, Fred is a truly inspirational character, with a rich history that began in the late 60s as roadie for MC5 and Iggy Pop to becoming a tech entrepreneur and mentor and now heads up International Affairs for Austin-based accelerator Capital Factory.
We met in the strangest of circumstances (it's Austin however so perhaps not!) having been selected to go head to head in a Street Brawl run by The Tech Off and overseen by Shoreditch’s own The Beyonce of Tech, MC Danimal. As it turns out our pitches were aligned with us both agreeing that tech is about breaking down walls and barriers across society.
So returning to our evening meal and the question we asked of one another “So how many internets did you sell today?” The direct answer is none as yet. However with our identification of key tech pillars to focus on over the next year, our inspiration and appreciation of the sector we work in and our increased network and exposure, SXSW has set us on a path to sell bigger and better internets in the coming 12 months.
TheTin x SXSW team will be publishing a selection of articles and other content over the coming weeks. Keep an eye on blog.thetin.net and twitter.com/wearethetin for notifications.
At TheTin, it’s our job to understand your brand and your ambitions. To ensure you’re always creating fresh, engaging and unique experiences by keeping you informed of the latest and most relevant technology and delivering insights for your business. Accelerate your brand with a strategic and agile partner you can depend on.
TheTin is a Brand and Technology agency. Visit us at www.thetin.net