Tag Archives: SXSW

SXSW Panel Idea: Mashups – Noble Bootstrapping or Downright Stealing?

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I checked SXSW today and noticed that the deadline for panel proposals is tonight. I originally wasn’t going to post anything, but I sat and thought for a bit about things I know enough about to propose/speak about at a conference. I remembered the whole craigslist incident and thought it would be interesting to propose a panel discussion about the state of mashups today.

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In the past, mashups were held to a pretty high opinion. The proper mashup might be able to take two things and simplify a process to critical acclaim. I think in those days, mashups weren’t thought of as startups or businesses, just small tools that people could use. Flash forward to today and sites like Mapskrieg and Padmapper (and others like AirBnB) are being C&Ded for their terms of use violations. Something happened in the startup world that made mashups into a viable threat, which the bigger players did not approve of.

While the term “mashup” seems a bit archaic now, I think it would be interesting to revisit that term and see what it means today. Take some pioneers of mashing up and some new startups and get them talking about stuff.

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In other news, it looks like the Panel Picker requires some kind of “visual resource” like a video or slideshow or something. I don’t see how my proposal could be improved by that (it’s pretty cut and dry) so I’ll probably just link to this blog post and insert a lot of unrelated pictures of things being mashed up. CC licensed, of course.

SXSW 2011 Panel Proposal: “Quitters Always Prosper” Please Vote!

I submitted a panel proposal to SXSW again this year entitled “Quitters Always Prosper: The Iterative Career Process.” Here’s the proposal as seen on the official panel picker:

Quitters Always Prosper: The Iterative Career Process

You just graduated from college and started your first real job. But it isn’t what you thought it was. Somehow, somewhere along the way, you made an error in judgment, or your company flat out lied to you about your job. What do you do?

Hear from a panel of young professionals who were in this same position and quit before they hit the one -year mark. They’ve since moved on to greener pastures and have found their true calling, or are at least a step closer. They are part of a larger movement who believe in an iterative career path.

Disillusioned employees: share your pain and ask the panel how and why they made their decision to quit. Learn the warning signs of a bad fit during the interview process and in the first few days on the job. Know that you aren’t alone, and there’s something you can do about it.

Employers: learn how to decrease new employee turnaround. Discover the best incentives to retain great talent. Learn when and when not to hire.

When the going gets tough, quit!

Questions Answered:

  1. What are the warning signs before I accept a job that it is not a good fit?
  2. What alternatives are there for reconciliation before sending in my resignation?
  3. What should I do before quitting (e.g. securing a new job, etc)?
  4. How do I explain my short stay to a potential new employer?
  5. What should I learn from my bad experience, and how should I apply it to the next job?

As many of you know, I quit my job at Microsoft after about 6 months. There were a lot of reasons why, and it boils down to the fact that it just wasn’t a good fit. I’ve noticed a disproportionate number of my cohort from grad school who also left their first jobs after graduating within one year. I thought it would be interesting to do a panel on the subject and try to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

I think It’s of interest not only to people who aren’t happy at their jobs, but also employers who struggle with retention rates, especially among younger employees. I think it’ll be an interesting panel. While I moderated a SXSW panel at this year’s conference, I was thinking that I could either moderate again (it’s very fun and stressful) or be a panelist, since I’ve experienced it myself.

I’d really appreciate it if you could take the time to vote for my proposal, leave a comment, and spread the word! As with my last panel, I think the subject is something that people think about, but often do not talk about. If we can get a room of like-minded people together, I’m confident that people can be inspired to make tough decisions and get more out of life!

SXSW Student Startups Podcast Up!

SXSW just posted their audio recording of the Student Startups panel that I moderated! Here it is in embedded form, or you can download it, too!


Oh man, I sound super nervous (I was). Please let me know what you thought of the panel if you didn’t get a chance to attend and you’re hearing it now for the first time!

Thanks again to my panelists, Ben, Ellen and Marc! They did a terrific job!

SXSW 2010: My Panel Moderator Experience

I got back from SXSW 2010 a few days ago, and I thought I would write a post about what it was like to moderate a panel while it’s fresh in my mind. As you may know, my panel submission, “Student Startups: Entrepreneurship in the University” was selected to be a real panel at SXSW 2010! From the time that I knew it was accepted, I sprung into action and got my panelists together. Ellen from Alight Learning, Ben from Olark (formerly Hab.la) and Rishi from Underground Printing.

While I did my research beforehand (I was a student entrepreneur myself, to begin with), I felt the need to cram some preparation a few days before the panel, too. I guess I should have gotten everything ready before the conference started, but I also wanted to get proper feedback from my panelists.

One way I prepared to moderate was by reading a few blog posts on the subject that were linked to from the Speaker FAQ. Most agree that one should not over-prepare the panelists. You want the discussion to happen during the panel itself and not before. In the hour before the panel, inside the green room, I had to sort of referee the panelists to avoid discussing too much. Most also agree that the moderator needs to do the most homework. I had to come up with the focus of my panel, questions to ask to reach that focus, and I had to be prepared to follow up with more questions depending on where the conversation went (which included asking questions to get the discussion back on track if it was going off on a tangent).

At first the panel was going to be about details: where to get money, what kind of corporate structure to use, etc. When I started thinking about the potential panel attendee, I realized that these questions would probably be really boring and unnecessary. I tried to frame my panel from the viewpoint of a college undergrad who just wants to get something started. I hoped that by the end of the panel, at least one person in the room would decide to give startups a try, or at least be excited enough by the idea to do more research into it.

My biggest worries were that no one would come, or that too many people would come. I also worried that people would be mean on the backchannel (as I have witnessed during other panels). I worried that I would not have enough questions to ask and that there would be a bunch of dead silence. Luckily, none of these things happened. The audience was a good size, I treated the audience with respect from the beginning and asked them to do the same on our hashtag, and my panelists were really interesting and led me to ask other followup questions. I don’t think there was much filler content at all.

Probably the only truly stressful part of the process was when Rishi called me the day before the panel and told me he couldn’t make it, by no fault of his own. I had to find a replacement panelist within less than 24 hours! Luckily, I am an entrepreneur at heart and rose to the challenge. I went to the trade show floor and started asking the startup-looking companies if their founder was there, and if so, if he/she had started a company while in school. I got incredibly lucky the first time I asked, at Tungle.me‘s booth. I ended up meeting Marc Gingras, a really awesome guy who ended up working out perfectly. Marc rounded out the panel as the guy who started a company during the dotcom boom. He also has experience being a VC and doing other startups after his first. I really can’t thank Marc enough for spending his time sitting on my panel and helping it become a great success.

My basic strategy during the panel was to break the ice by asking the audience to participate a bit first. I stole this from the App-Vertising panel I saw a few days before. I asked who in the audience were students, investors, entrepreneurs or educators. Next, I had my panel introduce themselves and then I introduced myself. I started with an easy question: “I am a student who wants to get into startups, what should I do?” From there I listened to the panelists and tried to anticipate where the discussion was heading. I had a few points I wanted to hit, so if I heard something that related to another topic, I segued into it. For example, I might’ve said “Ben, you mentioned finding your co-founders at a student group, did anyone else have a similar experience? If not, where did you find your co-founders?”

The backchannel on Twitter also provided a good source of questions. I’m really glad that people asked them because it kept the conversation relevant to what people wanted to know and it gave me a chance to save my questions for a more relevant time to ask them.

I haven’t gotten the official feedback on the panel yet, but I think that it was overall a success. Very few people left in the during the panel and many people were nice enough to come up and talk to me and the panelists afterward. I wish I could have talked to every single person to see if the panel was helpful, but I think they had to run to the keynote right after (and so did we)! I really hope that the panel inspired some people to take a chance and become an entrepreneur. I think that if one person became more inspired after hearing the panel, our mission was definitely accomplished.

While the process was a bit stressful and required a fair amount of work, I’d love to either moderate or participate in a panel again, someday. I’ve got to start thinking of panel ideas for SXSW 2011!

[Photo credit: Chris Norred]

SXSW 2010 Official Celebrity Sighting Namedropping Post!

I have lots of material to post from this year’s SXSW 2010 Interactive Festival. First thing’s first, though: I need to document all of the celebrities that I sighted and took pictures with!

The first celebrity of South By came fairly early. While leaving the Windows Phone party on Friday night, I ran into my old friend Pete Cashmore. I can call him my old friend because we used to be in that 9rules thing together and he wrote about Notecentric and MapsKrieg on his Mashable blog. I chatted him up a bit to see if he remembered me (he either did or was being nice). And he was pretty nice, too! He told me about the Mashable party at Buffalo Billiards (that I didn’t actually get a chance to go to). Then I had to run off because there was a free taco truck nearby and Pete was trying to get into the Speakeasy anyway.

That same night I also spotted Scobleizer, but I didn’t talk to him because I was looking for additional Korean tacos and I already met him last year. I also met some Jonas Brothers but later found out they were just cardboard cutouts.

The next night, at the Frog Design opening party, I was waiting in line and met a cool guy named Mike D’Amico. The line was for a photo booth. I guess we’re both pretty narcissistic. Anyway, some gals ran up to mike and started talking to him. They seemed strangely familiar. I thought they were maybe in a TV show or small-time movie actors. Once they started handing Threadless buttons to me I realized the magnitude of the situation.

They were Threadless t-shirt models!!! Kristen and Colleen were both really nice. I took a picture with them, Threadless style, though I didn’t have a Threadless shirt on at the time. We exchanged business cards and I promised them I’d wear my Three Keyboard Cat Moon shirt the next day.

Sunday was a slow day for celebrity sightings but that was probably due to the fact that I was busy preparing for my panel the next day. Monday turned out to be a good day, both for my panel (more on that in a later post!) and for celebrity sightings!

My friends Sameer and Maureen and I were heading to the 20×2 party but found the foursquare party along the way. The line was huge but somehow we became VIPs by drinking some Vitamin Water and having out pictures taken. The party had a bunch of tables with t-shirts and schwag lined up. I got a Brizzly, Foursquare and something else (some kind of iPhone app company) shirt. While at the foursquare table I saw that iJustine girl. I talked with her for a second and got a picture with her. She seemed nice enough, but kinda had other things to do besides talk to me. She probably needed to go stream her life or something, whatevs!

danah boyd was also at the party but someone was chatting her up relentlessly. Sameer got her to say “Hi” (he’s met her before) but she had to run to the VIP area or something. She also seemed nice but kinda busy.

Later that night, Sameer and I were in the line for the Mens room and ran into the CEO of Twitter, Evan Williams! He was wearing the same dress shirt/sweater combo as during his keynote earlier in the day. Sameer asked for his business card and Ev nicely obliged. We didn’t get a picture. That might’ve been a bit too odd, given we were waiting for the bathroom. I heard that Ashton Kutcher was also at the party but I didn’t head up to the VIP area to check him out.

Overall it was a very good year for celebrity sightings at SXSW. I really wanted to meet Cashmore last year, so it’s great I finally got to talk with him a bit this time. Next year I hope to run into even more famous celebrities like Guy Kawasaki or Leo Laporte! See you soon, SXSW 2011!