SXSW – A Platform for Launching Innovative Apps

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a unique event that showcases latest trends in music and digital technologies. Its organized in Austin, Texas, every year and it further cements Austin’s position as the most liveable city in Texas 🙂

SXSW has garnered a reputation for being the right platform to launch innovative apps. Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, when respondng to a question in Quora gave a succinct response to a question on how Twitter leveraged SXSW as a platform to launch Twitter into fame. Here is a his response:

“We launched it nine months before — to a whimper. By the time SXSW 2007 rolled around, we were starting to grow finally and it seemed like all of our users (which were probably in the thousands) were going to Austin that year. So, we did two things to take advantage of the emerging critical mass: 

1) We created a Twitter visualizer and negotiated with the festival to put flat panel screens in the hallways. This is something they’d never done before, but we didn’t want a booth on the trade show floor, because we knew hallways is where the action was. We paid $11K for this and set up the TVs ourselves. (This was about the only money Twitter’s *ever* spent on marketing.)

2) We created an event-specific feature, where, you could text ‘join sxsw’ to 40404. Then you would show up on the screens. And, if you weren’t already a Twitter user, you’d automatically be following a half-dozen or so “ambassadors,” who were Twitter users also at SXSW. We advertised this on the screens in the hallways. (I don’t know how many people signed up this way — my recollection is not a lot.)”

This year, SXSWedu (yes, SXSW has been expanding to include education as a focus area in addition to music and digital technologies) lined up several interesting Startups in the K12 and higher education space. You can read about them here. As you can see, companies now recognize SXSW as a platform to launch their apps even if it’s not connected to music. Wish I was in Austin last week 😦

Srinivas Krishnaswamy

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I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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