by Tahlor Marchi
The average travel time to get from Boston to Austin is about four hours. Throw in two feet of snow, and thousands of people trying to get to one destination and it could take a little bit longer. Like fourteen hours.
That was the travel time for me, Bryan House, Joe Wykes and John Carione. We hunkered down at Logan Airport for three hours. Spent another hour and a half on the tarmac. And then finally took off to our stop at Dallas. We were convinced we were going to be roadtrippin’ it to Austin. Things looked up for some of team Acquia when we arrived in Dallas. A few of us were able to re-book onto the 6:30 flight, and we were joined by Matt McGee from the West Coast and Andrew Kenney who was flying in on a different flight from Boston. So -- finally -- the six of us landed in Austin around 8 p.m. on Friday, March 8th. After a mere 14 hours of traveling, we were ready to rock SXSW!
This was my very first year at SXSW (unlike my seasoned SXSW colleagues, Bryan, Andrew, Matt, Derek Peplau and Paul Treichler) and I was so happy to be part of the excitement. I had worked in the entertainment industry, so I had known what SX was all about. But I had never had the opportunity to experience it. My teammates gave the best advice: SX is a marathon - not a sprint (and boy were they right)!
In order to effectively describe my experience, I am going to break up SXSW into 3 buckets: 1. The People! 2. The Places! and 3. The Parties!
1. The People!
SXSW brings about 60,000 people to Austin for the Interactive, Music, Gaming and Film festivals, so you can imagine the amount of new faces that you get to meet. From my point of view, I was able to meet with some of our amazing customers, partners and many new companies with innovative products and ideas. One way that I met new people was being at the Tradeshow (Mar 10-13) with my teammates Bree “Breezy” Biederman, Brant Wynn and Rohan Oswal. We hosted the #stackathon at the Acquia booth, which was a fun and interactive way to spike creativity for people who came by the booth.
Tom Erickson also stopped by the booth to show off his creativity. I also got the chance to meet Ryan Garner over dinner as well as a number of other customers. James Heise of Appnovation joined us for the Livefyre party (Pictured Center) and our party at Stage on Sixth, as did many other partners. Lesson learned: SX is all about making connections: It’s awesome! (and bring business cards!)
2. The Places!
Austin is amazing...period! The city is full of life and excitement during SX - the best places including all of the food trucks, sixth street, as well as the ACC - the Austin Convention Center.
The food truck scene in Austin is mindblowing. Whether you are stopping by for a late night snack, or holding a business meeting outside one, they offer some of the best cuisine in Austin. If you are headed to SX next year, definitely add the Food truck on 1700 E. 6th St called East Side King. John Carione, Matt McGee and I ventured out to this food truck and it was well worth it - get the wings!
Another amazing place in Austin is 6th street - a large part of it is actually shut down during SXSW for pedestrians only. There are music venues, restaurants, bars, and A LOT of people. SIxth street is a great place to meet up with people to talk business, or just enjoy the scene of SXSW!
Lastly, the ACC is buzzing with energy during SXSW. This venue hosts registration for all parts of the conference, as well as many keynote sessions, the trade show and much, much more! The ACC also has some great places to eat around it, including some food trucks, and restaurants. My favorite was the Group Me Grill, which served free grilled cheese and beers when you showed the organizers that you were using their app. Group Me is awesome and I highly suggest it to communicate with groups at an event!
3. The Parties!
If you have been to SX, you quickly learn that it is ALL about the parties. These parties are a great way for brands to gain exposure to the vast and diverse audience of SXSW. Along with co-hosting the 1 Nite with Mike party at Stage on 6th on Monday night with The Marketing Cloud Alliance (and thank you to everyone who came btw!), Team Acquia hit the town for the Livefyre Party , the Foursquare Party, as well as many others. My favorite party (and I think I speak on behalf of my entire team) was the SapientNitro Party on Sunday night at The Parish. Our entire team at SX rocked the dance floor to the beats of DJ Spider. BIG thanks to the SapientNitro team for an awesome event!
All in all, SXSW was a great success for the Acquia team. We had great meetings with our partners & customers, interacted with many wonderful people at our booth, had fun with the #stackathon, and rocked Stage on Sixth on Monday night with the Marketo & Marketing Cloud Alliance Teams. Be sure to check out all of our photos from SX, follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook.
Where am I headed next? I am headed to the Magento Imagine eCommerce Conference in Las Vegas the second week of April with Matt McGee, Jeff Robinson and Derek Peplau. If you are headed to Imagine, I look forward to see you there!