OK, so I’ve been in Austin, TX for a little under 24 hours now. I’m here for the Interactive week of the South by SouthWest festival (#SXSW). It’s been variously described as Online Heaven, Spring Break for Geeks and most recently, Tech Orgy. All are accurate to one extent or another – but it’s certainly safe to say the average age is late twenties and the gender balance is well…. less than balanced!
I’ve attended a number of panels already and so far, they’ve had a great effect in cementing two thoughts I’d previously held. The first, which I think applies to any start-up business (not just the technical wizards we find here) is about passion. It came from a discussion around patents, trademarks and other ways to protect your epiphany / bright idea / beautiful concept. It’s based on this simple thought: Even if someone likes your idea enough to copy it, they will not have the same drive and passion to execute as you do. The reverse of this is a stark warning to all entrepreneurs – if you think you lack that drive and passion, maybe the start-up world isn’t for you. I’m comforted by that, purely because I know how hard we’re working to make our business a success.
The second is an even simpler guiding principle, but it probably more relevant to businesses with a strong technical element. Again, it concerns your launch to market – particularly if your launch is a specific product or online site: If you think your launch product is perfect it means you waited too long. It potentially also means you’ve wasted money. Our experience very much bears that out. Our launch service had certain elements which had not (at that time) been fully automated and our site not fully optimised for user experience (still a work in progress for us) BUT the feedback we gained from clients in those early days had a real impact on the ongoing development. If we hadn’t launched so quickly, there are certainly commercial opportunities we’d have missed. We also would have completed some elements which in retrospect were misguided. Instead, we’ve had a flying start and our short-term development roadmap is very much guided by early adopter feedback. Invaluable stuff.
I’ve yet to experience a full evening in Austin and am reliably informed by SXSW veterans that this is easily half the value of the event – superb networking opportunities in the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable. I’ve got plans for three events already this evening and I fully expect that will evolve further. On this point, I’ll sign off with a final piece of advice from one of the SXSW Producers who presented earlier: You’re gonna be on your feet all day long, and probably most of the night too. Change your socks at Sundown.