SXSW Wrap Up Post - Amazing

March 2010

SXSW was a truly amazing experience. The biggest event I’ve ever been to. With a huge exhibition centre and a couple of streets closed off in Austin for the festivities it would be hard not to be.

If you’re thinking of attending next year, here’s an overview.


There are so many talks to choose from and so many good topics on at the same time. Choose wisely, as there are times when you’ll go to a talk and it turns out it might not be what you thought it was about.


There is lots to see and do in the exhibition hall. Various companies are there with stands promoting their brand with a tonne of freebies from pins to tees to discounts. And obviously beer is the main winner (which gets a huge crowd around your stand).

As a spectator this is a good chance to get talking to the guys who run these companies, as they’ll listen to you as long as they can sell you their product as well. You might pick up a few leads here.


The people in Austin were very friendly. You could walk up and talk to anyone. Seems that everyone in the creative industry was there. People I have a lot of admiration for like Jeffrey Zeldman, Tim Van Damme, Jason Santa Maria, Wilson Miner and Ryan Sims. Or people that I don’t specifically know of but have admired their work. It’s inspiring to meet these guys who are working on some world class stuff.


It really is a full week of partying. But you’re not just out partying with your mates, you’re partying with some of the most intelligent and creative people in the world who work for some of the most innovative and biggest companies in the world so it’s a great time to get a chat with them, introduce yourself and tell them what you do over a beer.

Northern Ireland crew

It was good to get to know all the companies and people that attended from Northern Ireland.

A big thank you is due to Invest NI for funding the trip, and the team that was out, in particular Terry Reilly, and also Matt Johnston from the Digital Circle.

As far as I can tell everyone had a good time and came back feeling inspired, invigorated with new ideas and with a pack of new business leads and contacts.

I would definitely recommend the trip to all next year and also keep an eye out for more supported trips this year including WWDC and Web 2.0

A few tips about The States

For those of you who aren’t from there:

  • It's customary to tip 15%-20% of the bill for pretty much everything - even for bad service
  • Tax is added to the retail price at the til - so don't bother working out if you have the exact change to pay for that bottle of water
  • The streets are laid out in blocks, as a grid system - it's a lot easier for getting around
  • Americans are very friendly people - at least the people I was chatting to :)
  • They drive on the right side of the road - just like everyone else in the world
  • Restaurants always offer you free refills - and free water

See you next year?

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