Entrepreneurship: Attend SXSW Interactive


"Attend" SxSW Interactive

Every March, geeks from around the world congregate in Austin for South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive. Attending this conference is a great way of keeping up with the latest industry trends, and it's also a terrific place for networking. Badges are not cheap. It is $850 for the interactive badge if you pay full price. There may be discounted options available for students, and you might be able to volunteer your time in exchange for admission. If you are affiliated with the Trinitonian or any other publications, you might be eligible for a press pass. All of the conference hotels are sold out for all dates, so you will need to crash with a friend or commute between cities. Despite the hassle, attending SXSW is still a worthwhile experience.

There are two versions of this badge: the version in which you physically attend the conference, and the version in which you remotely access the conference that was held last March. For the physical version of the badge, you will need to attend at least three panels. You should take notes at the panels, you should take photos with your phone or camera, and, if possible, you should capture some video clips from the event. For the virtual version of the badge, you will watch at least three video recordings of SxSW panels, you will identify at least one inspiring panelist and map out his or her social media presence, and you will develop a strategy for attending the conference for free next year. Both versions culminate in a 1,000 to 1,250 word blog posting.

BTW, some people insist on referring to this conference as "South by." In the opinion of this badge description writer, it is a bizarre hipster practice that sounds ridiculous. As Mike Taylor wrote in New York Observer, "now they call it 'South By' and soon it will just be a vague hiss: like 'suuuuuh.'" David Hansen agrees, writing "Frankly, I find it irritating. I'm not being anal. It's totally lazy. It's already an acronym. They already abbreviated it for you, and I know you have the time for those extra two syllables... Please stop."


  1. Point your web browser at the official SXSW site to find out when it will happen. The event typically happens in March, and it occasionally overlaps Spring Break. Registration is in January, so you will need to act quickly if you choose to pursue this badge.
  2. If you work for a local media outlet (e.g. Trinitonian, Rivard Report, San Antonio Current, or Tiger TV, you might be able to apply for a press credential. Search the SXSW site for information about "press credentials."
  3. If regular badges are too expensive -- and you cannot qualify for a press credential -- you might be able to apply for a student badge. Search the SXSW site for information about student pricing.
  4. Investigate volunteer opportunities. If all of the above options are out of the question, you can also volunteer in exchange for access to the conference. In order to do this, you will need to fill out a first-time volunteer registration form and attend an orientation session in January or February.
  5. In order to earn this badge, you will need to attend a full day of events at SXSW Interactive (at least three separate sessions). You should document the experience by taking photos of the conference panels, the exhibition hall, and other SXSW events. You should also take notes on the sessions that you attend.
  6. After the conference is over, you should post a detailed blog posting (1,000 - 1,250 words) describing the experience. What events did you attend, and what sorts of ideas and technologies were discussed? What was the most exciting thing you saw at the conference? What was your overall impression? Be sure to include photos and direct quotes in your conference write-up. When you reference particular companies and individuals, be sure to include links to the relevant web presence for these companies and individuals. When you are ready to complete the badge, please e-mail me a link to your blog posting with the subject "Pending: Entrepreneurship South By Southwest."


  1. Watch at least three of the archived SxSW videos. This badge was last updated in April 2018, so -- if you are pursuing this badge in 2019 or 2020 -- you might need to track down the most recent link. (And, please send me a note asking me to update the badge description with the most recent link.)
  2. Take detailed notes about the ideas and panelists, and keep your eyes peeled for one or two panelists who you consider to be interesting and inspiring.
  3. Please post a detailed blog posting (1,000 - 1,250 words) describing your virtual interaction with the SxSW videos. There are three parts to the write-up.
  4. The first part -- the longest part of the write-up -- should describe each of the three videos that you watched. What were the most interesting ideas and technologies discussed on these panels? Were there any technologies or ideas that you found to be unconvincing? For each panel that you summarize, you should include at least one captioned image. This might be a still from the video, or it might be another image that is related to something discussed on the panel. Avoid first-person in this section.
  5. In the second part of the write-up, reflect on the most interesting or inspiring panelist. Were there any panelists who were doing the sort of work that you hope to do someday after graduation? Or, even if you don't necessarily want to do the same sort of work as a panelist, was there someone whose presentation you found to be incredibly compelling? Once you've identified this person, try to track down their social media presence. Do they communicate primarily via Twitter? Do they have a personal blog? A YouTube channel? In this section, you should link back to that person's social media pages. Also, if you're active on any of the same social media networks, you should be sure to follow that person from your personal account. Limited use of first-person makes sense in this section.
  6. In the third part of the write-up, articulate a hypothetical strategy for attending this conference for free in 2019. Next year's SxSW runs from 3/8 through 3/17, and Trinity University's Spring Break runs from 3/9 through 3/17. Point your browser at the page describing SxSW volunteer opportunities at the most recent conference, and then look at the guidelines for getting a press pass. These pages describe the policies that were in place for last year's event. The rules might change somewhat before next year, but it's safe to assume that most of the volunteer and press-pass policies will be relatively similar to this year's guidelines. If you start planning now, it is very possible that you can figure out a way to be a part of next year's gathering without having to pay a penny for access. This section clearly requires the use of first-person.
  7. When you have finished the write-up, please proofread it thoroughly for writing mechanics. Check to make sure there is a heading for each section (e.g., "Analyzing the Panels," "Interesting and Inspiring Panelists," and "My Strategy For Gaining Access Next Year." When you are ready to complete the badge, please e-mail me a link to your blog posting with the subject "Pending: Entrepreneurship South By Southwest."


Last Revised: April 28, 2018
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