5 SXSW Interactive Sessions Entrepreneurs, Researchers & Academics Must Attend

The Kauffman Foundation will be heading to SXSW Interactive this weekend and will be co-hosting the Startup Oasis with UP Global. This will be the second year that the Kauffman Foundation will be at SXSW, and we’re already overwhelmed by the 600 sessions happening at Interactive session this year.

Due to the limitations of time—one would “only” be able to attend 120 hour long sessions over the five-day period—we wanted to highlight a few of the sessions that we’re most excited about. If you’re an entrepreneur, researcher, professor, or economic developer, be sure to attend these five sessions:

Kauffman events:

1. 4 Insights from the Fastest-Growing Companies in America: Building Great Startups outside the Stereotypical Startup Hubs

If you read startup media you may be left with the impression that most of the fastest growing companies are based in Silicon Valley, and that they can only get any traction because they raised massive amounts of venture capital. Yet, the data shows a very different picture.

Our research with 479+ companies among the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America tells another story: the vast majority of them are not based in Silicon Valley, and less than 6.5% of them raised any venture capital.

Join us to eat tasty tacos and learn from the research with these companies how to build great startups outside the stereotypical startup hubs.

2. Quantified Entrepreneurship: How to Measure the Performance of Your Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

How many startups are in your city? How much money are entrepreneurs raising in your ecosystem? How many jobs do local startups contribute to your economy?

To learn how to answer these and other questions, come to this 1-hour-long hands-on workshop with researchers from the Kauffman Foundation. This workshop is ideal for entrepreneurship program organizers, economic development professionals, and local policymakers and staff interested in assessing the health of their entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Join us for this hands-on workshop and happy hour to learn, step-by-step, a data-driven way to measure your entrepreneurial ecosystem. Please bring your computer if you can.

Non-Kauffman related events:

3. Data Science Without Being a Data Scientist

“Today, far more data is being generated than is ever properly analyzed. Making data easier to analyze will benefit everyone, from the corner ice-cream store and budding student to Walmart and the World Bank. Unfortunately, today's tools make data science the province of a small group of experts, limiting the potential impact of all this new data. In this workshop, we will walk you through the basic steps of data science work, and show you how next-generation tools can remove much of the complex drudgery that limit data science to a privileged few. The workshop will be interactive: all participants will start with a browser and end with a multiple data science applications in the cloud. We'll wrap up by discussing the future of data science.”

At the Kauffman Foundation, we are always looking for new tools to analyze data to help support entrepreneurs. This workshop intrigues me because I enjoy learning about new data science tools that help make sense of entrepreneurship data. This is a great workshop to attend prior to the Kauffman workshop on, “Quantified Entrepreneurship: How to Measure the Performance of Your Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” on Monday.

4. Tech Talk: Building a Startup Ecosystem

“There is no single formula for building a great entrepreneurial ecosystem. But there are certainly best practices, and lessons to be gleaned from the people who have molded nascent startup economies into fast-growing hubs for innovation.

This panel will explore the "Rise of the Rest": the idea that great ideas and great companies can be found anywhere, not just in Silicon Valley or other established hotbeds. Specifically, we have convened a panel of tech hub leaders from across the country to examine the proliferation and prospects for tech hubs in off-the-beaten path cities. They will speak to their own experiences working to build a startup ecosystem, and the appropriate role for institutions – both public and private – in supporting ecosystem formation and development. If you are someone at the forefront of trying to build a startup ecosystem in your community, this is a discussion for you to listen and share input.”

This session is of particular interest to us because we are continually trying to understand entrepreneurial ecosystems and how to support them at the Kauffman Foundation. A recent paper, “Examining the Connections within the Startup Ecosystem: A Case Study of St. Louis,” documents the resurgence of entrepreneurial activity in St. Louis by reporting on the collaboration and local learning within the startup community. This paper provides further understanding on the importance of connections between entrepreneurs and support organizations to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems.

5. Build It and They Will Come: Startup Funding Myths

“Focusing all your energy on fundraising shouldn’t necessarily be your first step as a startup company. Having a relentless focus on customer acquisition first can contribute to rapid growth and bring in the cash flow you need, plus help you retain control as you are building your business. Signing on paying customers can prove your business model and your company’s worth to get money in the door to fund development and growth. Then, when you’re ready to fundraise, you have the proof of success you need to show investors. Erica Duignan Minnihan hosts a conversation with DreamIt Austin alum, AJ Bruno (Trendkite), about how this has worked for his company.”

We are interested in this session, because we are continually trying to disprove myths around entrepreneurship. A recent video, by Dane Stangler debunks myths about entrepreneurs. To learn more about entrepreneurship myths including; age of entrepreneurs, size and age of business, geography of entrepreneurship, and efficacy of incubators, check out the "Myth-Busting Entrepreneurship" video.

Hopefully you’ll be able to make it to all of these events mentioned above, and if not, we will have a recap post of our favorite sessions and important takeaways. Be sure to check out the full list of events that are happening at the Startup Oasis, because there is a lot more happening that I was able to cover in this post.

What other important sessions at SXSW interactive are you going to attend?

comments powered by Disqus
colin tomkins-bergh

Colin Tomkins-Bergh is a research analyst in Research and Policy for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, working to evaluate the effectiveness of entrepreneurial ecosystems following the Great Recession and performing research around the Ag Tech sector.