Toronto at South by Southwest Interactive – Part 1

Have you ever wondered what goes on at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas?  Have you ever asked yourself if this is the type of event you should be attending?  Ask no more.  We asked 5 members of the Toronto community who attended SXSW earlier this month.  From Monday to Friday, we will be featuring an individual who attended the interactive festival, to get their thoughts.  A few are veterans of the event.  At least one is a rookie.

Today, we feature Erin Bury of  Erin is Sprouter’s Community Manager and is also a key member of the Twestival Toronto organizing committee. 

Why was it important for you personally to go to SXSWi?

It was important to me personally because I wanted to learn from the presentations and panels, and to expand my network of contacts around the world.  

Why was it important for Sprouter to have a presence at SXSWi?

So many of the attendees at SXSW Interactive are startups and entrepreneurs – since they are the members and prospective members of our community it only made sense to have a presence there.  

How did you expose Sprouter to the SXSWi community while you were in Austin?

Well of course we had laptop stickers – who doesn’t love a good laptop sticker at SXSW? We also partnered with StartupDigest to bring attendees the must-attend events and must-meet entrepreneurs each day – you can still check it out at We also interviewed several entrepreneurs and startups at the conference, and we’ll be featuring the content on our blog.  

What was something new that you learned during your time in Austin that will help you?

SXSW reinforced my belief that conferences aren’t necessarily about the content – they’re about meeting people and the hallway conversations that often are much more valuable than a panel. Also after attending GaryVee’s talk I realized that passion is such a key element to being an entrepreneur or working at a startup – his passion and excitement about WineLibraryTV is infectious, and I left his talk feeling ready to take over the world.  

Was there any new developments or companies that you were exposed to that caught your eye?

Well I think the talk of the conference was location-based tools like Foursquare and Gowalla – you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about them, or seeing people check in on Twitter. But I’d have to say the one company that caught my eye pre- and during SXSW is Plancast. Plancast is a simple site that allows you to share your upcoming plans with friends, who can subscribe to your plans. I think you’ll start seeing Plancast and their penguin logo everywhere in the months to come.  

Who was the one person you met at SXSWi that really left an impression with you?

Although I didn’t meet Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter) I attended his keynote, and something that he said left a very lasting impression. He said that if you’re an entrepreneur your product or service should finish the sentence “Wouldn’t it be awesome if…” To me there’s no better reason to start a business than to fulfill a need you’ve encountered or to solve a problem, so I love the idea that every startup idea should finish that sentence.  

Why should a company, brand or an individual attend SXSWi next year?

I think from a personal level individuals should attend SXSW to expand their networks, meet some of the faces they see online every day, and learn from some really great and diverse content. I think startups should attend to build their brand and meet others in their space. And I think larger companies should attend because SXSW is a hub of innovation, and it’s a chance to be first to the party.