Can someone participate in SXSW

SXSW - just give it a shot

We had the great pleasure of participating in the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas and winning the German Startup Pitch! Below we report what we experienced and what we can learn from the Americans.

The South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the largest and most important annual meetings for startups and established companies in the tech sector. Nevertheless, it feels as if it is still very little known in Germany. Unfortunately. Because the combination of the latest technology, daring business models as well as film and music is unparalleled worldwide. The venue is Austin - a small town in the heart of Texas and on the edge of America's Bible Belt.

Silicon Hills

The hilly Austin as well as the SXSW impress with their progressiveness which is unbelievable for German standards. Big companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are also gradually moving to Austin. Not least because of this, Americans like to call Austin Silicon Hills. So it is hardly surprising that at SXSW pretty much everything from the industry is represented. For example, we were very fortunate to be able to experience Elon Musk up close at a Q&A session.

Tech, trends and competition

But besides the main acts, the SXSW has a lot to offer. In the 5 days of our participation, nothing was more difficult than to decide every day which session to participate in. A small excerpt: We listened to MIT professor Hugh Herr how he connects mechanical prostheses with the human brain. We overheard Amy Webb when she brought in a comprehensive report on the new tech trends. And in fact, we also took part in interactive sessions that no longer had a human speaker - but were led by the Google Assistant.

So of course we were all the more pleased that we could win the German Startup Pitch at such a progressive conference (more on this here)!

Was it good?

As a matter of fact. Very good. With all these experiences, it is of course not easy to write even a top 10 list. Still, we asked ourselves what was probably the most impressive. Elon Musk's vision of a re-civilization of the earth by human inhabitants of Mars after a third world war with nuclear missiles? Self-driving shuttles without a steering wheel or brake? The flysuit for everyone? Or at Austin's best steak house, Fogo de Chao, to meet one of Dell's employees from the very beginning, who invites us to eat nothing for me. But in fact it was something completely different. We haven't heard the following sentence even in the craziest of presentations: "This will not work."

Just give it a shot!

Of course there was criticism. But never this premature burial of an idea. The conference participants had more of a “just-give-it-a-shot” mentality. It remains to be seen whether this is always correct. But we believe it promotes innovation and the spirit of discovery. Maybe it's also because we weren't surprised about anything very quickly. Not even when we were able to buy our giant burgers from the food truck in the middle of nowhere at the Austin rodeo, of course, contactless with credit card. In Hamburg we just had to look for an office with tolerable internet ... just as a comparison. We are inspired - to put it bluntly - have made incredibly exciting acquaintances and are now trying to bring a little bit of this thirst for action back to us.

Thank you thank you thank you!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hamburg Startups Team around Sanja Stankovic, the sponsors Deutsche Bank, Hamburg Invest, Sutor Bank and Vast Forward and of course the pack of like-minded young German startups that we first had to get to know in Texas. to realize that we are partly neighbors (more about that here). We would also like to thank the German Haus and everyone involved in the Reeperbahn Hamburgers! It was a party!

If you want to find out more about SXSW and the German startups represented there, we recommend the Hamburg Startups diary.