If there were any thematic backdrops present at SXSW 2014, certainly privacy was one of them. To be sure, the Edward Snowden and Julian Assange keynotes were packed but there was also a more subtle conversation about privacy taking place in Austin this week. Of all these viewpoints described to me, none had the same intensity nor conviction as those I heard in my chat with Lavabit's Ladar Levison. Read More
No, it’s not the executive team’s Irish brogues, their polished pitch, the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is almost here or even that they have a connection to Twitter founder Ev Williams.
Trustev, the Cork, Ireland start-up primed to take the world by storm, leverages big data, social graphs algorithms and analytics to verify identity and prevent fraud in an entirely new, innovative way. And, get this: it does so by starting with the premise that you are innocent — that you are who you say you are.
The company beat more than 1,000 companies from all over the world to win a grand prize in the SXSW Accelerator competition in Austin, Texas this week. The company, which won in the big data and enterprise category, joins an exalted group of previous winners, including Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook and Uber.
Founder and CEO Pat Phelan said he was "over the moon."
The usual job hunting rules still apply even at the super-hip SXSW.
The bright minds at Stanford who created Omlet have a different idea about how communicating — and more importantly, the data that goes along with communication — should be handled these days. Read More
TechCrunch » Social
Secret is hoping to grow bigger and capitalize on SXSW with two new features. Share lets you post any Secret you see to Twitter, Facebook, SMS, or email. Nearby lets you opt in to seeing Secrets shared by people nearby, which could create an ad hoc community of users at SXSW. The two could draw more people into Secret and keep them there even if they don't have friends on the app. Read More
TechCrunch » Social
Google’s Eric Schmidt told a SXSW audience in Austin today that Google is “very, very worried about” the growing financial inequality and subsequent protests in San Francisco. “The average person there has benefited from the automation, the globalization, the technology,” he said, and predicted that inequality will become “the No. 1 issue of democracies.”… Read More
Let’s face it: SXSW is a big, hot mess.
Sure, anything that people like to call “Spring Break for nerds” is all right by us. But if you’re a startup trying to stand out in that crowd, good luck.
Well, VentureBeat has one way to help you cut through the noise: Enter our second annual WinSXSW Contest.
This is the second year VentureBeat and Buzzstarter have teamed up for the WinSXSW competition. Last year, we interviewed 129 companies, generating over 1.5 million views within a week for these startups. This year, it will be even bigger and better.
All you have to do is give us 30 seconds of your time. But these have to be the most awesome, on-point 30 seconds of your life. Imagine you’re in an elevator with investor Dave McClure and you’ve got to pitch him on your startup before the doors open or he starts swearing at you.
If you win the top prize, you’ll get to pitch McClure himself and get a chance at a $ 50,000 investment from 500 Startups.
In addition, the winners in more than 10 categories will receive prizes offered by our many sponsors, as well as meetings with 20+ leading investors and brand managers on our judging panel. In all, there are more than $ 100,000 in prizes.
VentureBeat will also pick an “editor’s choice” winner, whom we’ll invite to brief the editorial team at our headquarters in San Francisco or New York, leading to coverage right here on VentureBeat.
Check out the full details and instructions at WinSXSW.com. For a short overview, watch this lovely video starring yours truly, or read on.
There are two ways to enter:
- We’ll have a video crew roaming around SXSW shooting 30-second interviews. Find the team (follow @venturebeat, @winsxsw, and @buzzstarter to see where we are), and connect with us for a 30-second video pitch session with a VentureBeat journalist or Buzzstarter staff member. We’ll upload your video to WinSXSW to be voted.
- Submit your startup through WinSXSW.com. We highly recomment including a video link to either an elevator pitch or a product demo. Startups with videos are much more likely to win.
The competition runs from the start of SXSW Interactive on March 7 and ends on Friday, March 14. Fans can vote for their favorite startups starting March 8. We’ll announce daily winners during SXSW on the WinSXSW site and on VentureBeat. Other category winners and the overall winner will be announced on Friday, March 21.
So get your pitches ready. We’ll see you in Austin!
VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication.
When it comes to preparing for South by Southwest, there’s a lot that attending companies can learn from the zombie apocalypse.
Surviving the environment
1. The days are long. The nights are longer.
If you’re looking for a work-vacation, you’ve come to the wrong place. A typical company day at SXSW starts around 6:00am and ends at 3:00am.
2. Carry reliable weapons
If your cell phone is on the fritz or your laptop is unable to hold more than a 1-hour charge, upgrade. If you rely on it, it has to work. It’s also a good idea to carry a charger with you, just in case.
3. Take sleep where and when you can
Remember: SXSW (and the zombie apocalypse) is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to make your energy last, so be sure to budget time for sleep.
4. Carry or secure your possessions
There’s no safe place to “set something down” during the zombie apocalypse or SXSW and it’s a long, crowded way from the show floor to your hotel room. Bring an appropriate bag to carry everything. There are sometimes rentable lockers near the registration area. If you can’t use a locker, lock your valuables up at the booth.
Your Personal Health
5. You will become infected
Everyone gets sick at SXSW. It’s a cluster of contagion, so be prepared. Bring your cold medicine and include some flexibility in your team’s schedule.
6. Comfortable shoes are a must
Whether you’re running from zombies or walking the endless show floors and sidewalks in Austin, comfortable shoes are a must. No heels or painful shoes allowed.
7. If you drink, you still have to function
While water is a necessity to surviving SXSW or the zombie apocalypse, alcohol is not: especially if you have to function. If you’re going to drink at SXSW, only have a little, and only when you can relax out of the public eye. You’re representing your company—even when you’re not at the booth. Make sure your team also understands this.
Your zombie apocalypse team
8. Only go with people you trust
Your SXSW company team should be a tight-knit group that trusts each other. This is not the place to bring loose cannons.
9. The best teams have a plan
Staying current and connected is key to survival. Know what each team member is doing throughout the show, review daily, and make sure you team has everyone’s contact information.
10. Frantic activity does not equal survival
SXSW is an easy place to stay busy, whether going to late-night parties, film screenings, or running from one thing to the next…but you need to stay focused. Have a goal for every event you go to. It’s not enough to collect 50 business cards. You have to connect with real people—hopefully, the right people, and it has to mean something.
Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication and a Silicon Valley leader known for helping great companies, organizations, and ideas get the attention they deserve. Her past guest posts at VentureBeat include “5 reasons your startup is failing at PR” and “10 PR mistakes you need to resolve in 2014.”
She is also a social media expert and author, known for her book, 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business.
VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Jennifer L. Jacobson
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. Even when you’re 11 years old.
Last year Las Vegas kid Ethan Duggan found himself in a tough spot. His mother returned from a whirlwind shopping trip with “about 40 dresses, skirts, and tops.” Without his father home, Ethan was the default watcha-think-of-this audience.
Like any decent self-respecting 11-year-old kid, Ethan got tired of inventing new comments.
Genius enough that he figured there oughtta be an app for that. So he made one. And Lazy Husband was born, soon to be followed by Lazy Wife and Lazy Kid.
Having proven that he wasn’t a lazy kid, Ethan is now planning to release Bargument, a cool app that will help you win any argument in a bar — even if you’re too young to get through the front door. To win a “bargument,” all you have to do is open the app, type the “fact” that you want to prove, and then show your friends the “proof” in a fake — but very authentic-looking — Wikipedia article.
See, I told you pigs fly.
Bargument is a little more sophisticated app than the Lazy trio, and it was built on a different framework, AppGyver, which Ethan likes better.
“We met the AppGyver guys, and I thought it was awesome — really easy to build apps,” Ethan told me. “With other tools you have to pull up a simulator, which can be really slow, and doesn’t show you exactly what a real device would. AppGyver lets you run it live on a target device.”
Ethan, who is now 12, doesn’t sound like your average 12-year-old kid. Of course, it helps that his dad is a geek.
Father Rick Duggan is former developer who now leads the web development team at Vegas-based Zappos. And a year ago when he saw his not-yet-teenager kid wanted to build an app, an idea popped into his head.
With a little help from a friend.
“When Ethan came up with the idea for Lazy Husband, I loved the idea and was going to do it myself,” Rick Duggan says. “But a friend asked why I didn’t have Ethan do this, and I thought: what a great idea.”
Ethan didn’t know any coding, but a little bit of googling brought up Codecademy, and as Ethan dug into the lessons, he enjoyed them and built up some skills. Father Rick encouraged him, but got some odd reactions from friends and acquaintances.
“Any extracurricular activity, like baseball camp, you get a great reaction from people,” he told me. “But when you say your son is learning to code … it’s a bit of a different stare!”
Ethan is learning the business side as well, his dad says, working on pricing models, costs, profitability estimates, revshare agreements, and figuring out the wonderful world of taxation, deductions, and giving Uncle Sam a piece of the action that most of us don’t meet until much later in life.
Today, Ethan and Rick are speaking at SXSW Vegas, in a presentation titled “Never to young to build a startup with your kids.” And he’s looking forward to a bright future in code.
“In the near future, I see myself developing more apps, possibly a game,” Ethan told me. “In the long term, I may not be in app development but I’ll definitely be some kind of programmer.”
“Probably,” he adds, “a programmer CEO.”