I just got back from another “South By,” always a fun time. I spent the weekend there, which given SXSW‘s total boondoggle nature, is I think about the right period of time to be there. Having caught up with other folks who attended and having traded notes, and now having attended for 3 years, here are a few Do’s and Dont’s for SXSW. Pro Tips (alright, potentially only semi-pro tips).
- Wear comfortable shoes. SXSW is a place where you should be spending a lot of time walking and standing. Wear the most comfortable shoes you own. For me, I bring and wear a pair of Brooks running shoes. I could walk to Arkansas in them, they’re that comfortable.
- Avoid conference sessions (unless I’m speaking . Every year I make this mistake… I get my badge, and I think, wow I should do something useful like go to a conference session. This year, I did this and I ended up at a session where a guy had as his powerpoint slides pictures of kittens… talking about what I parsed to be the evolution of work and questioning why our normal workday was roughly 8-5. Snooze fest.
- Do make sure your app works. Highly touted mobile app Highlight launched a new version of its app prior to SXSW. They garnered press on their cool ice cream truck. I thought I’d reinstall Highlight to see how it had evolved since the last SXSW. Unfortunately, for me at least, I couldn’t get Highlight to work after installation. When I click the “Sign in with Facebook” button to actually use the app, nothing happens. So other than a splashscreen, Highlight doesn’t really offer me anything. I’d be interested to learn whether anyone else ran into this problem. (A few disclosures .. First, BlueRun Ventures, where I work, is an investor in Banjo, which is often positioned as a competitor. Two, I reinstalled Highlight twice to try and overcome this issue, unsuccessfully–user error may be at work here, but I’m dubious.) Robust testing pre-launch, especially for mobile apps where Apple will take weeks to approve updates, is an absolute must do. Quick plug: check out mobile testing platform Appurify (disclosure: I’m an investor), when you want to put your mobile app through a rigorous QA and testing regiment.
- Drink a lot of water. Next year I’m bringing a Camelback and just wearing it. SXSW does have a lot of partying. At the same time, Austin restaurants are pretty weak at getting you water. Get water every chance and place you get.
- Always be charging. ’nuff said.