Interactive Madness at 2012 South by Southwest

SXSW Tradeshow 
Photo Credit: Merrick Ales 

The annual Austin event known as South by Southwest (SXSW) comprising interactive, film and music conferences and festivals wrapped up recently and John Mauro, president of the Jones School Technology Club, was there. He attended the interactive piece of SXSW and what is fondly called the Austin Startup Crawl. For four days he caught up with old friends, cutting-edge technologies and innovative startups.

“Capital Factory, the local startup accelerator, graciously hosted thousands of tech enthusiasts on Thursday night, and local startups were on the lookout for talent and eager to tell you about what they were up to,” John said.

By Friday his first stop was a TechStars meet up. “TechStars mentors and invests in high potential startup web and software companies. They were answering questions for interested applicants and set up areas for the startups in the Boulder and San Antonio programs to lay out their schwag and pitch their startups.”

Hundreds of new technology companies attend SXSW each year looking for investors, buyers, new clients, and employees. The interactive conference itself hosts many panels where leaders in technology introduce new applications and discuss the overall trend of interactive technology. There are scores of networking events hosted by industry leaders showcasing their startups and providing a glimpse into the future of the expanding technological industry.

An area called “Startup Village,” served as a consolidated area in downtown Austin that featured new tech companies, investors, entrepreneurs, and digital creative thinkers. Startup Village is complimented by startup-related panels, networking events called “Meet Ups,” pitch events, mentoring and coaching sessions and numerous parties and entertainment venues.

New or expanded products and companies that were either highlighted or introduced to the interactive event-goers included such notables as GroupMe, foursquare, TechStar, Captimo, Lytro and hundreds of others. Keynote speakers were Amber Case, author of “Ambient Location and the Future of the Interface;” Baratunde Thurston, comedian and technology-loving author of “How to Read the World;” Ray Kurzweil, technology visionary and futurist; and Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America. Some past keynotes at the SXSW Interactive Festival have been such prominent thinkers as Felicia Day, Al Franken, Howard Rheingold and Mark Zuckerberg.

Jones School alumni who attended the SXSW interactive festival were Bill Roberson ’11, Nathaniel Besser ‘11, David Droogleever ‘10 and Sowmya Jayaraman ‘11.