This year I went to South by South West Interactive (SXSWi), for the first time and found the whole experience fascinating and exhausting.
When I was planning on going I was a little nervous about travelling and being in Texas on my own. Not something that now I should have worried about.
Before I bought my ticket for SXSWi there were several meetings to discus possible funding that was available from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), along with networking with those people who were interested in going. As time drew closer to SXSW less and less people came to these networking events until it was only the delegates that had their tickets and were going.
The Birmingham contingent itself is made up of mostly people who have been to SXSW before and who are more than happy to help and give advice before and during the conference, which helps to promote a great community feel about attending. Once in Texas (on the first morning over breakfast), numbers and twitter handles were swapped so that everyone could stay in contact and no one was left feeling as if they were on their own. Every night (once the conference had ended for the evening), individuals and groups of Birmingham delegates kept in touch via twitter and text and ended up eating dinner and networking together which certainly helped to create a friendly community feel.
During SXSWi the UKTI created an event where some lucky companies were able to present themselves to people attending SXSWi. These mission companies can be found on the Chinwag site here. During this event Birmingham was well represented and it was great to see the products that the people who I had been spending time with were doing via demonstration. This was a very useful event to attend as it allowed for the Birmingham contingent to connect with others from the UK who we had not been too closely in contact with before, see their products and forum other useful links and networks.
Overall I found the community feel of the Birmingham contingent really helpful, friendly and supportive with regards to my SXSWi experience. I would recommend that anyone who is planning on attending SXSW 2013 should make sure they get to know who’s going from Birmingham before traveling to the conference so they can share their knowledge with you.
After going once, I hope to go to SXSWi again, and if I do I’m already looking forward to sharing my knowledge with anyone new attending.