5 Things We’ve Learned from SXSW 2015

By Amanda Lewan on March 16th, 2015 / Comments

For the past few days we’ve been hanging out in Austin, Texas, attending a ton of great panels and learning from others from all around the world how to build a great startup community.

This year’s SXSW interactive and music conference is estimated to see around 51,000 attendees, so it’s easy to get lost in the noise or the tech buzz while you’re here. For those back home, we’ve got an eye on a few takeaways for you. Here are five things we’ve learned from SXSW 2015 so far.

Technology startups are focusing on new ways to interact with your environment. Two that we saw on display that really stood out were Squirl, a way for readers to connect with stories around them in their local environment, and Traces a peer to peer messaging platform. Traces lets you catch these really cool 3-d looking bubbles that are clues left in your physical environment. They can be videos from friends and brands. According to their team, users are 20% more likely to interact with their messages than other applications.

Diversity is still a problem in the tech and startup world, but we’re talking about it. The numbers show that not enough women and minorities are in technology, and it could hurt your company. One panel cited recent research that stated 88% of venture backed companies have no female leadership. For those who have a female executive, the return on investment is increased by 35%. Does your startup have a female executive on the team? Tons of women were speaking out on panels about entering the tech world, and also emphasized to not let the numbers scare you. There’s plenty of support and opportunity.

You can now live stream video from anywhere using the Meerkat app. Your followers on twitter can watch your live video anytime. They can share the livestream, receive notifications of future ones, and more. We were really impressed with the newly launched Meerkat and saw several attendees throughout the conference sharing panels from this year’s SXSW talks with the app.  The startup was recently restricted access to Twitter’s social graph but the buzz doesn’t seem to be dying down. What would you want to tap into?

The Internet of Everything could help save lives. One of the biggest trends we saw this year was a close look at the internet of everything. There were dozens of panels featuring new technologies on display this year. One that caught our attention was the IT bra — a bra designed with sensors to detect early stage cancer. According to the founder of the IT bra, about 40% of women have dense breast tissue which cannot be read by mammograms. This bra can read dense breast tissue and could help save lives. It has to be worn for a few hours, with data sent back to a center that can process it. However, when available, we’re looking at a successful screening option and cost affordable ($100 a year for screening) new technology.

The story of the IT bra was being told by Cisco, who sponsored the Detected Movie documentary. Cisco has an interest in supporting technologies that help connect to the internet of everything. According to their website, “By 2020, 20 billion devices will come online, amounting to a $19 trillion market opportunity for businesses and consumers. This next era of the Internet – the Internet of Everything (IoE) – will connect not only things, but also people, process and data to transform how we track our fitness, regulate traffic, conserve energy, tackle poverty and more.” Check out more on the Detected Movie, and stay tuned for our interview airing on Digital Divas. 

There are lots of former Michiganders and Detroiters innovating. We ran into a few great companies here that were from entrepreneurs who call Michigan their home. We we’re really impressed by re:3d, a company making the largest and most affordable 3D printers with a large goal to also print from trash. The Co-founder Samantha Snabes is a former Metro Detroit. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she started and sold a successful company, went on to work for NASA, and then started re:3D. Some Michiganders, like the MSU Student startup bus were present pitches their first startups at SXSW 2015. It was great to see a lot of local talent around this year’s conference.

Thanks for following us as we finish out the last few panels here at SXSW. You can catch our live tweeting and hopefully soon our like “Meerkating”.


About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.