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Overheard at SXSW Interactive

Business, education, innovation notes from SXSW 2013“Disruption,” “curiosity,” and “crowdfunding” were big buzzwords at this year’s SXSW Interactive conference, along with “innovate,” which The Onion jokingly reported was said 650,000 times in four days.

UT had its largest presence ever at the conference. President Bill Powers hosted a solo session, telling the crowd that the purpose of a university is to “create an ecosystem to create new things, to innovate. We need to create a culture where innovation can take place." We couldn’t agree more.

Doing its part to grow that culture, the McCombs School hosted several official events, in addition to sessions featuring students and alumni.

During his Sunday panel, “Cultivating the New Minority Entrepreneur,” professor of management and director of the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship John Butler called for a support system for entrepreneurs and cited figures showing that across all categories, immigrants are more likely to be self employed. He detailed research institute IC2’s work in creating a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem and pointed to research showing that successful entrepreneurs share the same characteristics, regardless of background.

Over at the SXSW Trade Show, the Texas MBA and Texas MSTC programs promoted their degrees and talked up graduates to prospective employers. And, of course, gave away free t-shirts.

Texas MBA Texas MSTC SXSW Trade Show


SXSW 2013 MBA Meetup with Jessica ChengThis being SXSW, and McCombs being a business school, there were plenty of networking opportunities, too. The Texas MBA, Texas MSTC and master of science in finance programs hosted a satellite SXSW Startup Village event at the Vince Young steakhouse, and MBA student Jessica Cheng (left) organized an MBA Meet Up for current and prospective students from b-schools around the country at Proof Annex, quite possibly the only ad agency in town with its own full bar. 

Finally, McCombs entrepreneur-in-residence Laura Kilcrease moderated the Longhorn Startup Showcase pitch competition, with Texas Venture Labs Assistant Director Rob Warren serving as a judge. MSTC students Daniel Kleinbaum and Luke Kyohere (below, with, Kilcrease and the judges) won the five-team competition with a pitch for Beyonic, their company that offers NGOs a simplified payroll platform to pay employees and beneficiaries in different parts of the world and in the field. “There is a $2.1 billion niche with a need to switch,” the team said during its presentation.  

Texas MSTC student winners at the SXSW Longhorn Startup Showcase

Other notable business commentary and advice from SXSW:

On Big Data and Technology:

“We start by measuring things we don’t know what to do with,” thanks to the fact that it’s easier and cheaper than ever to collect data.

To predict rain, we look at weather instruments, but if you can somehow collect data that shows what kinds of shoes 10 million New Yorkers are putting on in the morning, “that predicts whether it will rain more accurately than looking at 800 weather stations” in New York City. This is called a “stochastic model,” and many startups are looking into ways they can use that model to better serve customers.

—from “A Robot in Your Pocket: AI Powered Applications," with Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte and Gravity CEO Amit Kapur

“Search will do for education what calculators did for math—you don’t have to remember facts.”

from “The Future of Google Search in a Mobile World” with Amit Singhal, senior vice president and Google Fellow

Technology will shift from collecting data to analyzing data. Google is the most advanced in this area. We are getting used to outsourcing functions of our brains.

from “Vanity Fair Presents Bethany McLean and Yuri Milner” with entrepreneur Yuri Milner

On Education and UT:

The creative disruption of education is a good thing. We are on the verge of revolutionizing education. 

from “Al Gore on the Future” with former Vice President Al Gore

UT is part of the “quality of place” that makes Austin appealing to entrepreneurs.

Austin is a fast-growing city, and “Entrepreneurship is embedded in that growth"

from “Startup Grind Asks ‘Why Austin?’” with Susan Davenport, senior vice president of global technology strategies, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

On Entrepreneurship:

My kids were my biggest career catalyst. Made me think about where I was and what I wanted to do. 

from Tina Roth Eisenberg Keynote, blogger, TeuxDeux app inventor

Startups and entrepreneurship are not buzzwords. They are the fabric of our country and critical to our future. 

Entrepreneurs play offense. Fortune 500s play defense. 

I love Silicon Valley, but not all entrepreneurs are, or need to be in Silicon Valley. 

"The point of crowdfunding is to democratize access to funding and capital. Most parts of the U.S. do not have angel networks and seed investors. Entrepreneurs in those areas must move where the capital is or give up. But with crowdfunding, they can raise enough money to get their ideas on the playing field."

from “A Conversation With Steve Case” with AOL founder and Revolution LLC Chairman and CEO Steve Case

The two greatest addictions in life are heroin and the weekly paycheck. The second prevents many from being an entrepreneur. 

Be a tenacious learner and fixer. Hire for initiative over experience, for the love of it over the money. 

Resourcefulness is more important than resources. 

from “Connecting and Empowering the Creative World” with Scott Belsky, co-founder and CEO of Behance

You can run the day, or the day runs you. Entrepreneurs can choose when to do things, so put your own work first and limit distractions.

—from “How Minimalism is Changing Entrepreneurship” with writer and consultant Courtney Carver

Compiled by Sarah Beckham, Christine Burdell, Rob Heidrick, Renee Hopkins, and Jeremy Simon.


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