April 09, 2012
Entrepreneurs: Look Outside Silicon Valley for Innovation, Talent & Money
In the states, Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland and Seattle are all making strides.
Just this week, I was informed of a few start-ups out of Montana which just closed small rounds.
Outside the states, many entreprenuers and VCs alike know about the flood of activity coming out of Israel, the UK and mobile apps from developers in Eastern Europe, Asia and South Africa (Memeburn is a growing social media and start-up blog for the developing world and a hot new Cape Town-based start-up conference is unveiling in the fourth quarter).
Paris-based LeWeb is one of the hottest start-up and technology conferences around and given its growth and diversity, it's not just focused on Europe anymore. In the last six months alone, I've met 6 French entrepreneurs who are moving from Paris to the Bay Area to increase their likelihood of getting funded and hiring the "right" names. Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore too are all sprouting up new initiatives and innovations.
I talked to the Singapore folks at SXSW who fed me fabulous chicken wings at their booth. They have a presence in Silicon Valley and are hoping to grow it in the coming months and years, as is Ireland with Enterprise Ireland, who is responsible for the funding, development and international growth of start-up companies in Ireland.
The popularity of the Dublin Web Summit and the F.ounders conference are both strong indicators that the number of entrepreneurs and smart ideas coming out of Dublin and other pockets of the country is on the rise.
Ireland also had a strong presence at SXSW with 30 companies on-site under the Enterprise Ireland umbrella. Part of their pitch to the social media and technology world was not just of their own talent, but to encourage others to bring their businesses to Ireland.
Ireland has a E10 million fund for international start-ups. While it may not be brand new, many may not be aware of it. Why Ireland, besides the natural reasons of it being a gorgeous country with landscape to die for and a country loaded with smart, witty storytellers?
What many may not realize is that Ireland has the most business friendly tax regime of any country in Europe or the Americas, which is pretty attractive when your budgets are small and you're trying to raise early capital.
It is obviously English-speaking as well, which makes it easy for Canadians and Americans to migrate east and Ireland's geographic position and EU membership provides easy access to money flow on the continent. The World Bank's 'Doing Business' report rates Ireland as the easiest EU location to start a business. And, the Irish Government has an assertive pro-business economic policy, offering a 12.5% corporate tax rate and 25% R&D tax credit.
For those soley focused in Silicon Valley, perhaps it's time to think a little more global. With more expansive thinking will come additional resources, capital and creativity not to mention interesting culture, social benefits and economic development outside of what northern California has to offer.
April 03, 2012
Zartis Leverages Social Media & Existing Employees to Mine the Best Talent
There are still plenty of opportunities to create a lucrative business in the "job" and "talent" market. Not only was LinkedIn's entry into the public market a hit last year (its IPO brought the company $352.8 million), but this BusinessWeek article (a GigaOm re-post) from last May touts numerous potential acquisition targets that might complement their business. Among those targets include Hashable, Socialware, Yammer, Indeed and BranchOut.
Sprouting from Ireland, Zartis is a new player in this space, who see the growing difficulty in hiring, particularly technical talent. Jobs boards aren’t returning great or even relevant candidates and recruitment agencies are expensive and can be time consuming.
Unemployment and economic recession issues aside, the growth of new technologies, mergers and acquisitions and start-ups with great ideas around the globe, offer tremendous new employment opportunities, but finding the right person for a position is often like finding a needle in a haystack, a very high and dense haystack.
Zartis, which is part of Enterprise Ireland, who had a major presence at SXSW last month, is an online service designed to help companies with between 5 and 500 employees to “look within” to find the talent they need through employee referrals.
They have taken a clever angle to recruit people, giving perks and incentives to those within an organization who can tap into their own networks to bring fresh new talent to the pool. The service allows a company to add a job, allocate a reward and invite its employees to promote the role to their contacts.
What's very cool about their offering is that an employee can actually tap into their personal social networks by publishing the "vacant" role to their Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook timeline. And, then they in turn get rewarded for successful outcomes.
How Employees Win:
When an employee logs into Zartis, they see the positions available and the rewards that are connected to the position. They can select a job and with one click have the message broadcast to their LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook connections.
They can also make recommendations within LinkedIn for a role based on keyword matching. The employee can then send their contact a private message telling them about the job.
When a job is distributed by an employee there is always a unique code embedded in the message which allows the company to track a job applicant back to the employee. This ensures that the referral reward is always paid to the employee.
Referral hires ensure that people work with people they like. Letting employees source new hires ensures they only recommend people that they actually like to work with which equates to longer term satisfaction for the employee and the "mate" they've brought into the company.
How Companies Win:
According to historical stats, companies already generate roughly 20% of new hires from existing employees, which is pretty good considering how much effort goes into finding new talent who isn't just a fit from a skillset perspective, but from a cultural perspective as well. Referrals from employees only increases the number of like-minded candidates, which is also a win-win from a corporate perspective.
Using Zartis, companies could actually get that employee referral number up to above 50%, which any good headhunter or HR exec will tell you, is significant. Bottom line, great people know other great people. Reliable. Honest. Ethical. Sustainable. And, existing employees are more likely to recruit others with like-minded in thinking, which means that they're more likely to be aligned with the corporate culture. Just look at how great Zappos is at recruiting and keeping people who fit within their corporate culture.
Zartis is designed to work within organizations but it also taps into the power of social media and sites that already do recruitment magic, such as LinkedIn. With the growth of employees using social media inside and outside the organization, it makes it that much easier to get a message out quickly to a wide audience.
If employees are already using social media in some capacity, throwing an incentive their way to go the extra mile to help fill positions only makes logical sense.
A company with 300 employees has theoretically 45,000 first degree connections. There will be overlap in these connections but even if you halved that number, imagine the leverage and power of all of these combined networks from all of your employees.
Another great feature from Zartis is their ability to help companies create their own careers site with a list of all their job openings and a professional application process that even works from a mobile phone. Says CEO John Dennehy, "with no knowledge of HTML, you can have an instant web page with all of your job listings. We also have it set up for mobile optimization."
Job seekers can submit their resume or LinkedIn profile which is sent to the company that is hiring. The careers site can be embedded in any website, WordPress site, or Facebook page.
Jobs can also be pushed to free job boards like Indeed.com and Twitter with one click. It's very simple to get up and running (no programming required) and they're obviously thinking about opportunities worldwide, as it can already be automatically translated into any of 11 languages.
When somebody applies for a job the hiring manager logs in to their secure site and can review all of the candidates in one place. They can add notes, send template rejection or call to interview emails, and share interview notes with colleagues.
Getting Started & Pricing:
If you want to "taste" the power of what Zartis can do, you can test it out for free. (one job posting is free and you can also get a month for free with all of their existing plans). For companies wanting more horsepower, their service is still incredibly reasonable.
To publish up to three job postings, it's only $9.95 a month and for 10 a month, it's $29.95 a month. For high growth enterprise companies with ongoing recruitment needs, it's a one time fee of $499.95 a year. When you consider what you pay a professional headhunter and other online services (often upwards of 15% of an annual salary), it's a very cost effective way to recruit new talent. Employee referrals are charged separately based on the number of employees added to the system.
Investors include AIB Seed Capital, Enterprise Ireland and SOS Ventures. Clients are global; companies using their service are based as far away as Cape Town and Kuala Lumpur, in Europe (Dublin and London) and in the U.S. with more and more customers being added every month. You can find out more about their service on their site and follow them on Twitter @zartis.
March 19, 2012
Austin's Scene & #SXSW in a Nutshell: My Summary of Sorts...
SXSW aka South-by-Southwest, the event that takes a week of my time every year in Austin, Texas, seems to get bigger and bigger every March, not to mention more global.
Refer to my blog write-up on its international diversity here.
For example, Ireland had the most number of start-ups they've ever had at SXSW (30 in total representing film and interactive).
Also in my international blog post, I covered the sheer volume of brands who had tents (Nokia, Microsoft and others), threw parties (HP, Pepsico and others...I lost track) or carted folks around town (Chevy).
On the interactive side, there was so much activity between the dozens and dozens of panels to the after parties, all of which I couldn't keep up with despite my social media apps buzzing me every ten seconds to tell me what was happening and where. Foursquare remained a popular app for check-ins and to see where your buds were - that said, the private parties were off the grid and frankly, had to be, for the intimacy of the "old SXSW" to prevail, a necessary for those of us who have been going for a decade (or more).
Speaking of Foursquare, they had a private bash where the security was so intense that a friend of mine got 'bounced' before he even made it up the stairs despite the fact that he was buds with 80% of the attendees. "Kids" (early 20-something year old geeks, marketers and wanna-bes) seemed to be clamoring to get elbow time with Dennis Crowley and get into events like this all over town and frankly, it was just not worth the fight, even the ones where I was on the VIP list, because VIP list or not, the lines and wall-to-wall rooms were still maddening.
Some late nights, I retreated to The Driskell which has become a little too crowded as well, but at the very least, you're likely to run into some industry buds who are more in the mood for a quiet drink amidst moose and deer on the wall and antiquated brass and iron statues that mesh the culture of Texas with England somewhere along the way.
The below was taken on my iPhone at some random 3 am hour in the Driskell lobby.
Other nights, after the official invitations of music, film and interactive wore me out, taking in a dive bar where you could take in some off-the-beaten path music was the way to go.
TED decided to have a 'showing' at SXSW this year (aka TED@SXSW) and blocked off a couple of hours two evenings in a row for speakers in a private room at The Driskell. The line-up included folks like TED Fellow Jose Gomez-Marquez, JP Rangaswami, Ayah Bdeir, Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), Ping Fu, Baratunde Thurston (who always has me in stiches), Steve Daniels and others.
Film...so many great ones! I wrote about a number of them earlier in the week, which you can scroll through in the Arts/Austin section here. So many worth listing but since I tend to cover things from a global and international perspective, a few call-outs worth noting include: Sunset Strip, The Taiwan Oyster, Bay of All Saints, Eden, The Black Balloon, Trash Dance, Wonder Women and a handful of others. (see the list of winners for 2012 here). Also see our Scottish Films overview here and Israel at SXSW here.
Songster from Mowgli, the first music-creation social fame on Facebook launched at SXSW this year. CEO Marshall Seese, Jr. came to the table with a recording artist background and says their design is with "everyone’s inner rockstar in mind."
Players follow the compelling storyline of a fledging musician working their way up through the ranks of the music industry. From playing gigs at frat houses and proms, to launching a worldwide arena tour, players can make great music, while allowing their creativity to take them through all levels of the game.
I tweeted up a storm about the on-stage love for Google+ with Vic Gundotra, which was more of an informercial than it was a fireside chat. If he used the word "amazing" one more time, I thought, even the newbies who are eating this up, would have to see through Google's sugar coating. Hey, I'm a Google+ user, not a prolific one, but I'm on the system and giving them tons of my data and creative energy just like I am to Facebook without a whole lotta benefit (yet).
I'm not saying what they're trying to do isn't useful or great online canvas for photographers to share their work or industry celebs like Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble to up their social status without even trying to, but for mainstream folks, it's just not there yet. (not in this cats humble opinion anyway). Just saying - I had enuf with "amazing this and amazing that" after the first 15 minutes.
Kelly Carlin performed again in a breakout room in the main convention hall and although I've seen her before and like her energy (I totally resonated with the 1970s family TV and dysfunctional family of the 1960s jokes), there was something that put me off slightly about her stint and I couldn't figure it out until near the end.
For those of you who don't know the Carlin name, she's the daughter of iconoclastic comedian George Carlin. As a one woman show, she uses storytelling, classic video footage, and family memorabilia, to chronicle over forty years of her life with her famous father.
While she's amusing and gives us countless insights into George, it f-g feels like its all about George. I'm thinking as someone who's only slightly younger than Kelly and had a lot of the same reference points, what about YOU? I'd love to hear more about YOU!
I walked away still not knowing and it was the second time I saw her perform. I just felt that using her dad as a vehicle for her 'show' and 'persona' may have perhaps run its course and what I really wanted to hear was her voice without Dad in the background (or at the very least so prevalent) so I could better learn who SHE was as an artist and more importantly, as a person.
Who didn't have an event? On the music front, B and C listers were all there, Bruce was there, Gary Vee called all wine afficiandos to a so called 'private' venue immediately next to another so called 'private' party I was at and the line was ten miles long by the time I walked outside. Really? Is that really the way to engage with folks? A great way to get SXSW publicity so from that perspective, stints like that really work, but they're far from "real" or intimate. I just wanted to say 'hey' without a thousand pushes and shoves. For the record.
The XPrize folks also held an event and it was invite only and really felt like "invite only." Not a publicity 'stunt' in any way, everyone I met was top notch and showed up because they had a vested interest or cared about the kinds of things they cared about. Quality conversations where people weren't looking at their watch or Foursquare check-ins to see where the coolest cats were hanging next next. A welcome relief.
If you're not famliar with their work, go here: their mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Below, an XPrize team shot: (I love these guys and btw, Peter Diamandis has a new book out entitled Abundance).
My favorite part of SXSW of course is the randomness of meetings at film and music more than interactive, for at the former, there still seems to be more spontenaity, largely I think because of mutual passions rather than a race for check-ins or being 'seen' at the right party and telling the whole world about it on Foursquare, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, yadda yadda yadda.
I'm not saying that politics and social klout doesn't run rampant in the film and music world, but passion for the 'art' still stands tall.....maybe not dominant in Hollywood, but at SXSW.
As for the social bit...of course I tweet at these events. I'm in the biz - who doesn't, but the feeds at SXSW are so much about where I'm at and who I'm hanging out with than providing value. It's hard to tell the difference anymore, and sometimes I even get confused by why I do what I do on social media even when my intensions are pure. The addictive nature of it all just 'ain't all that healthy' in my opinion. I have talked about this before but can't emphasize it enough.
The blogger lounge is on the top floor where it always is, around the corner from the press lounge, which had massages this year. The blogger lounge has occasional 'acts' and social media gurus of sorts popping in and out. (a little red badge gets you into it if you're a blogger).
This was more of a 'center' in previous years, but today, less so. It doesn't mean you can't still show up and meet up with old buds, converse with folks in the biz you haven't seen in awhile or folks you still haven't met, but things are so spread out and there's so much 'more' grabbing our attention that "hanging out" in the blogger lounge seem to be few and far between.
Below: Renee Blodgett, Angel Djambazov, Liz Strauss, Hugh MacLeod
Then there are a hundred or so other folks I'll keep under the radar, except for of course Jeff Pulver & crew who co-hosted a great 140Conf party (if you haven't been to their events, check 'em out), with the textPlus folks. (never enuf time Mademoiselle Heather Meeker).
Below is a snap from the Nokia Innovation Lab, a massive tent set up a few blocks from the convention center, that housed more than fake snow as you entered.
While travel wasn't a big representation at SXSW and I was struggling to find serious foodies, some of the usual suspects were hanging about. American Airlines had a down-to-earth event with fabulous peeps (closer to town or IN town next time PLEASE :-).
To the left (lighting wasn't great) is American's head of Mobile products Phil Easter talking about their latest and demoing some nifty stuff on an iPad that we can't quite talk about yet. Exciting stuff! Other call-outs worth mentioning are Stacey Frantz (corp comm), Dawn Turner (Entertainment Marketing), and Jonathan Pierce & Jon Bird (social media & video), among a handful of others.
The photo to the right has a combination of woven yarn, paint, and wire among other materials.
While the booth was creative and the Canadians fed us French toast, strawberries and homemade maple syrup, the Irish shamrock tattoos that Enterprise Ireland dished out had to be my favorite giveaway. (Sure, I'm biased but it's the truth). A lot more fun than pens, pads, stickers, drives and balloons.
The Cool Sculping guys who were parading around town for days, tried to demonstrate that 'getting naked' can be a positive thing if you own one of their "suits."
The below very 'blurry" image of pianist Eric Lewis, a favorite 'musical' experience by TEDsters who saw him perform a few years back in Long Beach, was taken at a Mashery Party at Sandra Bullock's Austin restaurant. The "blurr" gives you an idea of his energy and personality, therefore is untouched. It's "Eric" in every way. The party was of the classier events held at SXSW this year. Well done Oren!
As always, Blumberg Capital held an incredible meet-up for their start-up companies & friends. Flow, drinks, conversation, networking was top notch. Well done to David and his team.
The below is a l'il local bar and street scene music action, albeit blurry...blurry is in some ways more 'suitable' for SXSW, despite the fact that I had my Canon 7D and 2 good lenses with me.
Two fun 'street scenes' very late at night. Or morning. Or whatever.
There was also an interesting demo on the show floor of Vinyl Recorder T-560 -- analog stereo recording on 5", 7", 10" and 12". A pricey option but for serious audiofiles, an option? The 7-560 starter set includes a stereo clutterhead fuse, heated diamond stylus, 19" main unit with RIAA encoder, groove controller and stylus heating regulation mono microscope, a lamp and all cables and adapters. The price? E3,200 (yes, that's Euros).
The week can be a bit exhausting (okay, very) even when you're not trying to race from event to event. Below is a taste of just a day and a half and a few of these bands fell off. And, all the film stuff was equally thick hanging around my neck.
As a complete aside and for kicks, refer to my insanely hard-to-follow post on "how to stay healthy" in Austin during SXSW if you have the strength to avoid all the free beer and Texas ribs.
March 19, 2012 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Books, Client Announcements, Conference Highlights, Events, On Blogging, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Spirituality, On Technology, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
March 16, 2012
10 Ways to F-K Up Marketing Yourself at #SXSW
Truth be told, I go to a lot of conferences and events throughout the year and have been a regular attendee at SXSW (South-by-Southwest Festival) for about a decade. One of my favorite things to do at conferences is observe what vendors do well (rarely are my socks knocked off) and of course, where they make obvious marketing faux pas (more often than not).
Many of the things on my list will apply to pretty much any show, however the below incidents actually happened during my trip to SXSW this past week. And I couldn’t help but think: It is 2012 isn’t it? There are some basics. What Not To Do:
1. Throw an Event and Target the Wrong People:
Let’s call it a B-Brand, aka, not a Ford, Pepsi Co or Kodak but let’s say a company in between Instagram and Adobe as far as name recognition goes.
Targeting early social media adopters, musicians and music “lovers” would have been the right way to go. Upon arrival, I was escorted to the VIP section (nearly every event I went to had one of these yet it surprised me how little the venue cared since they certainly didn’t go out of their way to cater to that section, which btw, housed the sponsors who actually paid for the event).
After meandering around for a couple of hours and asking people why they were there and how they knew about the ‘brand,’ I was amazed at how unaware they were, not to mention it simply wasn’t their target audience. The other half? Too drunk to carry on a conversation. I had to ask to find out who the key ‘sponsors’ were as well as the Twitter ‘handle’ and hashtag which no one seemed to know. Marketing 101 folks. It’s a social media event.
On another note, sometimes you can invite ‘cool cats’ to your bash but they won’t actually move the revenue needle or bring you customers. And, while you may think they’ll bring you ‘brand’ klout, ask yourself how they will do that exactly before you add them to your list.
2. Shake Hands While You’re Meeting Someone Without Actually Looking at Them:
I’ve been noticing this pattern more frequently in the past year, especially in Silicon Valley with yeah, okay, I’ll say it, the generation behind me. Call me old guard if you will, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with meeting and greeting someone while you’re looking somewhere else. This happened to me five times at SXSW, it was during the day and each one of them was sober.
An industry friend had the same thing happen to him and he was dumbfounded, but he spends his time between New York and Europe more often than he does on the west coast. Welcome to unaware living in the technology world I said. Imagine shaking someone’s hand and saying great to meet you while your eyes are darting elsewhere to see who’s around and who’s not.
Even if you’re not trying to “market” yourself, every exchange is you selling yourself, even if it’s a ‘soft sell’ of who you are, what you represent in the world and how much you care about someone else other than yourself.
3. Meet Someone New and Then Look Down at Your iPhone:
This is related to #2 and quite honestly, has been an increasing occurrence. This btw, isn’t necessarily a generation thing, but moreso an “attention overload” thing related to all the things that grab our attention while we’re on the move. On our devices, we are hit with social media networks, check-in services, addictive online games, email, Twitter, Facebook updates, yadda yadda yadda. This theft (it’s a good word because that’s how I feel about it) of our time and of our attention results in a depletion of our energy, our overall awareness and how much time we give to a human vis a vis a device.
If you haven’t seen a group of people sit down for a meal at a restaurant and then take out their phones, zoning out of the human component around them in order to zone into the digital world one in their hand, then you’re not paying enough attention.
I even sadly saw this at 5 star restaurants in Paris, Dublin and Prague over the past year. So, it ain’t just the yanks although it does seem to be more prevalent the further west I travel.
If you’re more interested in a device than our exchange while I’m talking to you, why on earth would I want to work with you, or trust buying products from you? Disingenuine comes across as disingenuine and bottom line, it just doesn’t “feel good” to be on the other side. It makes me quickly want to move on and talk to someone else. My time is valuable too.
4. Spend A Whole Lotta Money on Hiring Our Cute Girls & Boys To Wear Your Product But Don’t Tell Them Anything ABOUT the Product:
There was a really creative marketing stint at SXSW this year from the Cool Sculpting folks. They even had a hash tag for it - #letsgetnaked. A group of young and pretty well sculpted early twenty year old guys & gals in skin-tight suits which were flesh-colored, paraded around Austin shouting “Let’s Get Naked.”
Their energy was enthusiastic, their smiles electric and they seemed to be having a good time. Simply put, it was hard not to engage with them. I remembered the “lets get naked” slogan afterwards but not their brand name and when I asked about the product itself, I didn’t get a clear idea of what it was other than a ‘suit’ to reduce the number of visible bumps your body displays to the outside world.
Perhaps that’s enough of a selling point, but I would have liked to learn more. When I asked if they were on Twitter, they weren’t sure and no one knew the Twitter name so I had to look it up.
Same goes for the Chevy drivers with their #catchachevy campaign. The marketing team they hired was from an agency that represents Chevy. As an aside, the group was professional, friendly, fun and trained in great customer service, but they didn’t know a whole lot about Chevy cars or whether they had a social media presence. I had to once again look it up.
That said, the fact that their marketing folks were so amazing and having cars available for attendees more than made up for it. The latter is a brilliant marketing stunt and they absolutely executed again, their third year doing it.
5. Have an Event FAR Out of Town When There’s Limited Taxis & Pedi-Taxi Drivers Won’t Take People Up Hills:
There were a few companies that held their events too far out of town, including one of my favorite airlines. I was thinking: why not team up with Chevy or another car company (co-brand it) and bring folks out to your event, at the very least press and VIPs. We called a cab to get back into town and after an hour of a ‘no show,’ I ended up having to walk back into the city with a heavy bag on my already sore shoulder.
Once we were there of course, they had it nailed. Fun demos, great food, casual atmosphere and plenty of knowledgeable and engaging in-house and agency folks to interact with and ask questions. Customer engagement & Hospitality gets an A+.
A few companies did the Salt Lick Barbeque van trips, which I’ve done myself with a client in the past. It’s great on one hand because it celebrates something local and is unique, but on the other hand, the transportation out and back eats into other events that guests may want to attend so it presents an extra reason not to show up.
Make your venue easily accessible, easy to find (signage) and whenever possible, avoid other major event conflicts so you don’t force your guests to choose.
Don’t even get me started with the traffic jams and pedi-cab incidents you have to deal with SXSW week. An Irish bud was literally thrown out of a pedi-cab because the ‘kid’ had never driven one before and it was his first day. Unfortunately, he spent the rest of SXSW limping around and popping strong pain pills.
6. Spend a Whole Lotta Money on a Booth Gimmick & Have the Wrong People Work the Booth:
There were a few creative ‘gimmicks’ at various booths yet while their booths had passion and all the trimmings, the people working the book didn’t. If you’re spending a fortune on a booth, design, collateral and more, make sure you bring people who not only live and breathe your product, but have the kind of energy that will get others to climb on board as well.
In a few cases, it seemed like they couldn’t wait for the day to end so they could begin party hopping. It’s not that I don’t resonate with it – it’s exhausting working a booth for 8 hours a day, having done it more times than I’d care to remember. That said, there are people who dig talking to people and pitching over and over AND over again. Find them, nurture them, educate them DEEPLY on your product or service and do whatever you can to keep them so they don’t go elsewhere.
7. Get So Drunk That You Can No Longer Talk Effectively About Your Product OR Yourself:
I realize that SXSW is more like a summer camp for social media afficiandos, geeks, film makers and musicians than it is a traditional conference, but let’s face it, it’s not as if the whiskey, beer and wine served are top shelf at 95% of the events, even in the VIP sections.
Aside from your product or service, I may actually want to learn more about you as a person, whether that is because I might be interested in partnering with you at some point in the future, hiring you, buying something from you or who knows, even writing a book together. Amazing collaborations can come out of SXSW (and have), so realize that you’re always marketing yourself, even between midnight and 3 am. You’re always selling at SXSW even when you think you’re not.
8. TWEET While You’re As Drunk (See #7):
Those of us who are online often will likely all admit that they’ve sent something out, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere that they’re embarrassed about or was inappropriate.
The same applies to video btw. People can shoot you somewhere and in days if not minutes, your mug, your voice, and your drunken self is public for the world, your employer, your business colleagues and your family to see.
9. Carry Cluttered Business Cards That Make It Hard to Find You:
Ever notice how “cool” it is now to carry a business card with only your name and a website on it. The logic of course is that if you’re really interested in them, you’ll go to their website for all the data that you need, which of course drives traffic to their site. For those with too much time on their hands or those you do end up having a meaningful or long conversation with, then that may in fact work.
Most of the people I end up wanting to talk to longer than ten minutes at a cocktail reception tend to be extremely overbooked, busy people. Sometimes I attend 3-4 events a week, which adds up to a whole lotta cards. Imagine how many I end up with after a week at SXSW covering not just Interactive, but Film and Music? I don’t even try at this event and end up with 100 by the time I get home.
Sometimes I’ll tweet out a ‘cool’ thing about a company or person in that moment if I was ‘moved’ by something, a task I’m 99% less likely to do the next day or the next week. The industry simply moves too fast and the always on, social media culture has only accelerated things.
The majority of cards I got at SXSW didn’t have a Facebook or Twitter handle listed…at a conference where Twitter exploded, at a conference full of bloggers, tweeters and social media consultants, at a conference where “in-the-moment” tools like Foursquare are used hourly. Yadda Yadda Yadda you get the idea.
And so, most of those companies didn’t get a call out because I was too busy to take to pull up their site and even for a few sites I did go to, it was difficult to find their Twitter handles. Marketing 101 folks. It’s a social media event.
10. Have No Cards At All:
Every time someone doesn’t have a card at an event, the response is: “I ran out of cards or forgot them or if someone wants to find me, they will.” Fair enough, you don’t want to be found and you really don’t want people to contact you.
If you’re at a level in your career where you’re either an ‘industry celebrity’ and simply don’t want to be bothered or think you are an ‘industry celebrity’ and just too arrogant to be courteous, then fine – be mysterious or too important to carry them.
To be fair, I get it. When I dish out a card, I worry that I’ll be thrown onto some inappropriate mailing list or onto a media list that isn’t targeted to what I write about (I ended up on an enterprise software company’s mailing list in the last year and one of their sales reps actually called my house at 8 am in the morning trying to sell me a 3K solution for my business), or someone will follow up asking for free consulting it disguising it as a simple question to get my unique perspective or insights.
That said, I always feel I can learn something from someone new and often I learn something new about myself and how to handle complex situations from the people I least expect. Sometimes when I think I’m the teacher, I end up becoming the student and vice versa.
Bottom line, I think it’s disrespectful not to carry a card and I wasn’t born in Asia. Sure it’s a game, but in the networking game, it’s part of the protocol.
Sometimes people say, “I just came here to meet up with a few friends.” My thought is: cool, then why did you come to a networking event in the first place? Why not go to a private bar where you’re not surrounded by new people and catch up with old friends? It’s like playing golf on a South African golf course and not wearing the ‘socks.’
And, for those who live in a digital-only world and that’s your excuse, remember that not everyone else does. If your response to that is: if they’re not playing in the digital world and can’t Bump me their data, then they’re not relevant, then you shouldn’t be in a role that IS marketing-driven. You never know where your customer is going to come from or when. Protocol 101. Be respectful. Carry a card, even if you decide later on to never talk to them again.
March 09, 2012
30 Irish Start-Ups to Make Splash at #SXSW This Year: #IrelandSXSW
Representatives from 30 Irish companies unite in Austin Texas to participate in South by Southwest (SXSW), the world’s premier film, music and interactive conference.
With the Irish delegation is Ireland’s Minister for Innovation, Mr. Sean Sherlock. The delegation is supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI), the government agency responsible for the growth and development of Irish companies in international markets. Collectively, the Irish will stage their presence at booth #1307 in Exhibit Hall 4 at the Austin Convention Center. Enterprise Ireland is joined at SXSW this year again by IDA Ireland and the Irish Film Board.
Ireland’s web, gaming, digital media and film ingenuity will shine in myriad ways throughout the event. For Storyful which uses social networks to create an authentic and socially useful journalism, SXSW is the latest stop on its US market roll-out campaign. This week the company named Erica Berger, who previously reported for The Economist, as head of its new Americas operation. At Storyful, she will manage relationships with publications like the New York Times and The Economist, and tech companies like Google and YouTube. Also this week, the new Storyful Direct app landed in Apple’s App store, which helps citizens connect their content with news organizations.
Other Irish standouts at the show include:
- Relevenz which will launch its plan-sharing social app for the Android smart phone.
- VendorShop, a provider of Facebook shopping cart solutions recently scored a seed round which it will use to expand its presence beyond the 15 countries where it’s currently entrenched. With the VendorShop solution, merchants can promote and sell products from their Facebook page without redirecting customers to another website.
- Volta makes its first foray to SXSW. The provider of video-on-demand services specializes in Irish and international indie films. The company is collaborating with its European partners on a feature that will enable users to watch and share films from their Facebook accounts. For producers and distributors, this broadens the market for their films and facilitates social interaction with a wider audience.
- OnePageCRM is launching their Version 2.0, a simple sales management tool for small businesses. They also boosted their global sales team by partnering with a New England-based reseller.
- Zartis hit a 2000 WordPress installation milestone for its user-friendly recruitment software and signed a partnership with SiliconRepublic, Ireland’s leading tech industry news site. The company just added a feature that enables firms to launch employee referral programs with a unique social media integration flavor.
Ireland’s presence will also be felt in film. Five Irish movies are slated for screening with several marking their North American debut at SXSW. They include feature films “Citadel” and “Dollhouse”, and the documentary, “Dreams of a Life”. Two short films, “Foxes” and “Joy” complete the Irish line-up.
Take a meander over to their site to see a list of Irish companies attending SXSW.
Yahoo's Filmmaking Panel on Storytelling - #SXSW #webstories
On March 12, 2012 at SXSW, Yahoo! will be holding a unique filmmaking panel on the future of storytelling media titled “Times Are a’Changing: Digital Storytelling Today.” Moderated by Erin McPherson, VP, Head of Originals/Video at Yahoo! Inc., the panel will feature Mike Rosenstein, Director of Digital at Red Hour Films, Larry Tanz, President at Vuguru LLC and Jordan Levin, CEO at Generate.
The greatest filmmakers of the 20th Century long maintained that there was nothing comparable to watching an epic story told on a screen that enveloped our frame of vision..but they didn’t have smartphones, tablets or PC's.
As our consumption habits have adopted the same frenetic pace of our lives, a new breed of storyteller has emerged to match those habits. They don’t exist only in Hollywood--or in Austin, they exist in every corner of every town. Their stories are framed on an iPhone screen, through the viewfinder of a DSLR or on tablets. Content creators and distributors now have a duty to combine a story that might be viewed on any manner of screens.
The topic will center around how to tackle the role of digital storytellers in this new digital age—from the everyday individual with a web cam, to the biggest stars in Hollywood, to the brands that are underwriting much of this new wave of content.
Photo credit: steppingstones site.
February 22, 2012
TEDxBerkeley 2012's Inspiring Innovation Merges Magic, BioData & Technology With Film, Oceans & Plants
Most people in my circles know what a TEDx event is but for those of you who don't, it is a local, self organized event that bring people together to share a TED-like experience, in the spirit of ideas worth spreading.
This video gives you an idea of what these non-profit events are like, which extend far beyond Berkeley. Cities around the world are organizing TEDx events, with a goal to teach, share, collaborate, educate, faciliate and grow. Ideas worth spreading means that some of these ideas can revolutionize (and have revolutionized) the world because of a new relationship or partnership that has evolved as a result of the wider distribution of these ideas and the courage and dedication of people behind making the 'magic' happen.
It's the second year I've been involved as co-curator of TEDxBerkeley, an event held at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall every February. In attendance were well over 1,000 people from a broad range of disciplines and minds - from academic, music and science to medicine, technology and the arts.
15 ground-breaking thinkers, leaders and performers entertained and educated the audience through storytelling, performance and anecdotes from their life experiences.
Given that UC Berkeley is involved, so were some of the professors and students, including the opening act by DeCadence (pronounced dee-KAY-dence, with a capital ‘C’), a vocalist group that sports eye-catching blue and gold capes and creative dance moves at nearly every performance.
The musician in me couldn't help but call out music brilliance first and while we're on the topic of incredible voices, Charles Holt stole the stage with his storytelling and singing of "He Lives in You," my favorite Lion King number.
He had me at "go" is an understatement, largely because of his intuitive nature, the fact that he lives his life through that intuitive lense and his witty and incredibly honest stories of his mother and grandmother from the south, which will leave you crying and laughing at the same time.
From music to dance, Jodi Lomask then awed us through her dance troupe. Known for her work with an organization she founded called Capacitor 15 years ago, she works with world-renowned research scientists to create original dance works that draw attention to critical environmental issues.
I think about people I know who spend their life committed to understanding oceans and I think about the moment it was for me that I got one step closer: deep sea diving off the coast of Australia some 60 or so feet below the surface. In that world, that remarkable world, you truly understand the beauty of a world we need to cherish and preserve.
Her dancers showed us that beauty through a combination of violin, dance movements in and outside of rings in somewhat of a Cirque du Soleil style and environmental videos, all creating an outer world exerience for us to share.
One of my favorite moments of the performance is below...the intertwining of minds, hearts and bodies.
Also involved in conservation and the environment was Dr. Maria Fadiman who I had the pleasure of setting up with a new Twitter account (social media will get us all, the deep hidden voice says, lurking in the background), is a fascinating combination of geologist, comedian, nature lover and ethnobotanist, her work focuses on the relationship between people and plants.
From South Florida, her style was very informal for an academic crowd yet had people laughing as she pounced onto the stage with a machete in hand, telling one humorous story after another of her time in the jungle, the majority of her time spent in the rainforests of Latin America.
She has worked with Tibetan children in teaching them to record their own ethnobotanical traditions and is currently working on a global scale cross cultural study of people’s use of a cultural keystone species (the flora and fauna that are deemed important to the survival of a culture), and how these plants can act as larger ecosystem preservation incentives.
Digital fabrication is where you change the rules about how things are made, referencing 3D printers, showing us examples of various things which can be printed into a variety of materials, including rubber, plastic and metal.
It's amazing what can be printed on a 3D printer now...I ran into BitTorrent's Bram Cohen at SF Music Tech who showed me a very interesting 3D ring he was wearing on his finger. Additionally, imagine 3D buildings and even a 3D-printed human kidney.
We also heard about the rise of information, aka the wisdom of the crowds and the wisdom of the 'cloud.' Not only are we all becoming creators in our own way on our own personal platforms, but we're becoming curators as well.
Then, ARZU's Connie Duckworth, who took the stage in vibrant red, focused on international development sharing things learned from her work in Afghanistan. She says of the current state of international development:
- The international development industry is dysfunctional.
- Big money brings big unintended consequences.
- Hope can’t thrive in the world’s worse places.
She believes that we have an urgent call to change the structure of the international development industry, which holds in its hands the lives of billions of people at the bottom of the pyramid.
Their thinking is that somehow inherently flawed short term thinking will move into sustainable systems. Big money when not hosed in the right direction can create a lot of chaos. She asserts that its a key reason that so many people lose so much faith in their government.
She refers to another unintended consequence of big money going to the wrong places: Brain Tilt, which is when the most highly educated local people (engineers, professors, doctors), all end up working for expats in low level positions. Local smart people are working as drivers and clerks rather than working in higher level positions because they can get paid so much more in the other positions.
Connie defines the quest for peace as security. “We all see the world through our own lens of experience, so for me, success all starts with a job. This is how people start with a way to solve those basic level needs, such as the ability to eat and feed their family.” She encouraged the audience not to just sit back and want peace, but believe in it and take action.
Rather than focus on money, we wanted to focus on giving, in other words, the idea of unleashing the power of compassion capital. “Once you unleash compassion,” he says, it’s amazing what happens. “Stay focused on adding value and discovered untapped capital.”
When small acts of giftivism get connected and activated, it rekindles a gift economy. A gift culture, he says, is marked by four key shifts:
- Shift from Consumption to Contribution – Instead of asking “what can I get,” open with “What can I give?” He says if you open each door with a different question, about what can you give, it changes the entire dynamics.
- Shift from Transaction to Trust: Build synergy. He refers to Karma Kitchen, a restaurant in Berkeley, where you pay for the people ahead of you or behind you rather than for your own bill. 26,000 meals so far and people continue to pay it forward.
- Shift from Isolation to Community: it is not enough that we connect, but rather how we connect. When you serve other people together, you create a network of ‘gift ties.’
- Shift from Scarcity to Abundance: Cultivate inner transformation to arrive at enough. “There is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
Hear hear Nipun. From gift economies, we shifted to Gopi Kallayil from Google who talked about the power of social and a connected world, particularly during the 18 days of the Egyptian protests, showing us a video where Desmond Tutu is talking to the Dalai Lama on Google+, a clip which has now been watched 2 million times. This is a great example of how social media is driving innovation around the world.
We saw examples from Libya and Kenya to South Africa and Egypt, where during the protests, they were able to express how they really felt and more importantly, people were able to listen to those words on YouTube and other platforms. They sang, “the most important thing is our right and writing our history with our blood – if you were one of us, better not blabber and tell us to go away and leave our dream and stop saying the word “I”. In every street in my country, the sound of freedom is calling. In every street in my country, the sound of freedom is calling.” Powerful stuff.
From the vantage point of healthcare, intuition and communications, Dr. Neha Sangwan encourages everyone to be proud of yourself for "listening to yourself." Often, listening to ourself comes second to listening to opinions of others, whether they be friends and family or a doctor we're seeing for a particular issue.
She asks, "what if communication is the cure that we're missing? What is the way we talk to ourselves & whether we choose to lean into our discomfort & show up in the world? What is this is the prescription for health long before I need to write you a prescription?"
Her talk was highly emotional as she brought us a journey around the world to the Middle East, where she spoke to women, sharing with us insights she learned about their world, their pride and in turn, what we can learn from them in the western world.
A professor at Berkeley, Ken Goldberg who closed the talks, on nothing other than robots. Yes, robots...and what we can learn from them. As someone who worked in speech recognition for years and did a project for the Willow Garage guys (I love PR2 and even danced with one), I was eager to hear his insights.
Ken thinks robots can inspire us and that we have a lot to learn from them. Some of those insights from various projects over the years include: always question assumptions. It's amazing how quick we are to turn to other people's assumptions and make decisions based on them without digging deeper. Secondly, when in doubt, improvise.
I couldn't help but smile but when i realized that both of these recommendations btw are great ones for start-ups as well as for children. So is tihs one: When your path is blocked, pivot. In start-up culture, we learn to pivot a lot, something that Fortune 500 companies should pay more attention to...
Author and thought leader David Ewing Duncan focused on DATA and how do we make sense of it all?', something he thinks is an awesome achievement of humanity, for 'better or worse.'
Because of his background, he centered his talk around bio-data. He points out that today, we can get a micro-analysis of our blood work, which can tell us how just whether we have a high chance of cancer and chronic diseases, but how empathetic we are as human beings. He notes "more experiences, more tests leads to more data."
But, as so many of us know, we have so much data, that its often overwhelming, so much so we can't make sense of the data we have at our fingertips. This is David's point.
Whats needed, he asserts is a new mindset in every occupation. "Enough of all this data, what does this data actually mean?" he says. "We need a revolution in interpreting the tools and the data as well as a radical shift in resources. In other words, how do we go about testing 42,000 genetic traits?"
Clearly, we need a radical shift in resources. There's only 4% invested on translational medicine and he thinks there needs to be a reversal in resource allocation. He also pointed to trends in the future for all the students sitting in the hall: "we're going to need 500 million analysts in 6 years and we only have 100 million today." Clearly, these are the people who are going to be well versed at making sense of all that data and transforming it into something usable and most importantly, actionable by individuals.
Tapan Parikh, a Berkeley University professor brought us back into traditional technology and current trends. Tapan’s research interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), mobile computing, speech UIs and information systems for microfinance, smallholder agriculture and global health.
He showed us photographs and results of some of his work in rural areas. Of his latest projects, Tapan has been designing, developing and deploying information systems in the rural developing world – initially in India, and now also in Latin America and Africa.
Tapan and his students have started several technology companies serving rural communities and the development sector. It was inspirational to see what they have accomplished so far and to see what is possible with resources, tearing down silos, sharing among communities and better access.
What he hopes to represent is the notion of showing respect for where you come from. He says, "Pick a challenge that is important to you" (for him, it was setting up real-time video conferencing, knowledge sharing and instant messaging in India), "and stick to it." He adds, "Don't assume you know what people need for their development - let them speak up, don't act for them."
I was thrilled that Tiffany Shlain was able to join us this year as I've always been a fan of her work. She has been making films for 20 years, and some of them have hit Sundance, Tribeca, Rotterdam and others and her films have won over 36 film festival awards.
Tiffany says, "each time we were able to change the way we recorded film and show reality, we were able to change reality itself."
She showed us snippets from her most recent film: Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology, A Declaration of Interdependence.” Connected had its U.S. theatrical tour this past fall and is now available for people to host their own screenings.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) announced earlier this month the 29 films selected for the American Film Showcase, an international cultural diplomacy initiative that brings people together worldwide through film and Connected made the list.
The movie is enlightening and sad at the same time, taking us deep into what is happening around us in a connected world and how technology is shaping and reshaping us. Bravo!! I have a love/hate relationship with technology myself -- the timing of this film couldn't be more perfect.
"Do something radical and true," she says. "We as humans should declare our human interdependence." Film projects they're working on for others are centered on life's most emotional topics: engagement, power, money, wisdom, death, inspiration, the brain and others.
Now that we're back to Entertainment, the E in TED, the last two speakers this year were performers: magician Robert Strong and violinist Lindsey Stirling.
Robert Strong is known as 'The Comedy Magician' and in watching him, it's so clear that magic is his life passion. He has performed on every major television network, in more than 40 different countries, in all 50 states, and twice at the White House.
I never paid much attention to the word magic until I renamed my own consultancy with Magic in the name. Now, I see 'magic' everywhere and am a true believer that perception is reality and that we can create any outcome we want through our own belief systems.
Lindsey Stirling, who I first saw play at Idea Festival in Kentucky last fall, is often referred to as the Hip Hop Violinist. Her passion, energy, and presence is magnetic, so much so, that you can't help but want to get up on stage and dance as she jumps around, violin and all, around you. Here's some background on her work. Let's just say that I'm a huge fan.
Check out last year's (2011) TEDxBerkeley talks on video. And a few talks from last year to get you inspired were Chip Conley on remembering that we're human in business, Anat Baniel on flexibility and vitality, Lopas Brunjes on carbon reduction, Bryan Alvarez on living organisms in our body, and Shore Slocum on spiritual awakening and awareness and how this can transform your everyday life.
February 22, 2012 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Conference Highlights, Entertainment/Media, Europe, Events, Magic Sauce Media, Music, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Poems, Literature & Stuff, On Robotics, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Womzit's SXSW® GO: Mobile App to View/Build Schedules & Navigate the Show
The app allows you to sync your online schedule with your phone, so as things change, your schedule will too. It will also allow you to tap into the thousands of SXSocial Registered Attendees who are going, browse by category, view profiles and make connections from within the app.
SXSW GO is now available for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 versions are coming soon apparently.
February 12, 2012
Top Ten Social Media Blogs
The Social Media Examiner recently chose the top ten social media blogs they suggest following. Reprinted here.
#1: Social Mouths
Social Mouths, the brainchild of Francisco Rosales, provides deep and honest looks at social media marketing and trends that impact our industry.
ViralBlog provides a daily stream of social media trends and inspiration through case studies and other interesting articles.
#3: Jeff Bullas
Jeff Bullas takes a close look at how businesses can get found online through social media.
Hubze has built an audience by focusing on social media trends and tips on social media marketing tactics.
The site contains a nice variety of media, including articles and podcasts.
#5: The Sales Lion
The Sales Lion from Marcus Sheridan is a blog that seeks to build community around inbound marketing, blogging, business and life.
#6: Pushing Social
Pushing Social from Stanford Smith provides practical blogging tips and resources from a fresh perspective.
#7: Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen provides intelligent insights on social media tactics and trends, all while making the complex simple.
#8: MarketingTech Blog
MarketingTech blog provides a technology-focused approach to new media marketing.
#9: Likeable Media
Likeable Media keeps readers current on industry trends and new tools while also providing strategies and tactics for using Facebook and social media marketing.
SplashMedia provides interesting takes on strategy, tips and trends, while their SplashCasts offer some great success stories.
The site features great use of a video show as well as diverse postings with good in-depth content.
Republished from the Social Media Examiner who chose the lucky ten a coule of weeks ago. Congrats to the winners.
January 17, 2012
Statf.ly Simplifies Social Monitoring, Engagement, Reporting & Storage
Statf.ly, a social media management and analytics company just added new quick-switch multi-profile management and unlimited reporting. Targeted to brands and agencies managing brands, new features include team collaboration, unlimited report generation with data point annotation, real time search for both Twitter and Facebook and social data storage for up to one year.
Statf.ly enables users to store Twitter and Facebook history, keywords, and report annotations for up to one year, which is valuable for generating more compelling long term analysis, in depth quarterly reports and annual strategy reviews.