This was my first trip to both Austin and SXSW Interactive. For a first-time initiate, the scene on 6th Street is a real spectacle – like a weekend-long food festival where the primary offerings are Shiner, business cards and corporate schwag. As we bounced from one themed event to the next, I was equal parts inspired and entertained by the multitude of crazy, ambitious ideas and the people pursuing them. Torrential downpours cast an occasional shadow on the festivities, yet still felt like a major upgrade from winter in New York.
The highlight of my trip, however, was the InSITE Fellows base camp a few miles out of town. Stacked six people to a room and sleeping on whatever surfaces seemed softer than the floor, it felt like a weekend-long sleepover. Instead of staying up late telling ghost stories and watching movies, we stayed up late talking tech, entrepreneurship and anything else that we were passionate about (ok, there were YouTube videos playing in the background). The house was filled with a contagious energy that left my mind reeling all the way to the airport.
Instead of bringing one major epiphany, SXSW reinforced something for me that can be easy to forget – it’s amazing how much faster you can go when you surround yourself with hungry, talented people. This is exactly why I wanted to be part of InSITE. While we won’t know for some time if anything tangible will come from those early morning conversations, I wouldn’t be surprised to look back years from now and pinpoint this trip as a key moment. I’ll be returning next year. And not just for the brisket.
2015 MBA Candidate
Columbia Business School