I’m currently flying from LAX to STL, and spring break is officially over. Crying to myself in seat 28A after my amazing trip to Austin and LA, and I’m finally listening to mom who called a few days ago just to tell me “you better blog about SXSW and LA before you forget about it.” Psh.
So in Austin, I attended SXSWi (aka South by Southwest Interactive). For those of you who don't know what it is: a huge conference thing about technology, social media, start ups, emerging trends, etc held annually, GOOGLE IT. I learned so much about networking, start ups, social platforms and how to make it in the real world. Our crew consisted of a few hzdg-ers and a few dormify-ers—including mom.
First step of applying my new found knowledge: make this blog post concise yet interesting and packed with information. I’ll start with 10 things I learned (in chronological order):
1. Always carry cash. Not all cabs have a credit card machine like the ones in New York do.
2. Necessary for all college kids: Bytox = a patch you stick on your body 45 minutes before drinking that guarantees a hangover-free morning. It really works. We passed out over a hundred while we were there and people were coming back for more. We'll be selling them on dormify soon, so be sure to look out for them!
3. You don’t sleep during SXSW, so plan accordingly. Wake up early for sessions all day, network/party all night.
4. Forties = fab. People in their forties aren’t old, they are fun! SXSW was like a huge party for smart, successful professionals to unleash their inner frattiness.
5. Talk to EVERYONE. In my case, tell EVERYONE about Dormify. Don’t be shy, you could be sitting next to your company’s biggest new investor (or, the guy who once ran Lady Gaga’s social media).
6. Austin is an unreal city. You would never believe it is in Texas. It’s extremely unique, trendy, and just plain COOL. I’ve never seen so many food trucks (Korean-Mexican fusion and cupcakes were my faves). Also, the coolest restaurants EVER. Go visit Austin.
7. I saw Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann speak. Pinterest is HUGE. I’ve been obsessed and pin things constantly. If you or your brand doesn’t have a page, JOIN PINTEREST NOW.
8. If Jay Z is playing a huge concert sponsored by Amex right next door to your hotel, figure out a way to get in. Don’t settle for watching the live stream on Youtube in the hotel bar.
9. Media people want compelling stories. When pitching your start up to the media, let the girl in college tell the story and sell the brand. (We made that mistake, then I had to talk in front of an audience unexpectedly).
10. You don’t always have to act like a college student. I felt extremely young at SXSW, so I acted like I was at least 25. It’s fun to go around pitching Dormify and handing out business cards. Except the fact that everyone thought my mom was my sister. I’m kind of used to it, but still…
10 things I experienced and have to share:
1. For three nights, the hzdg + dormify teams were invited onto Zappos’ “Delivering Happiness” party bus. Basically: a pimped out school bus with blacked out windows, really loud music, a full bar + bartender, the best snacks, and a ton of succesful people networking and having the time of their lives. Awesome.
2. Karen’s new favorite cocktail, and everyone at the W knows it. Cucumber, jalapeno, lemonade, and vodka. Try it.
3. Tom Colicchio and Andy Cohen (on Bravo) led a session about transmedia in the television world. Cool to see them up close! Andy is hilarious.
4. A 15-year-old kid named Lane Sutton led a session. He is an entrepreneur and social media coach/consultant. He’s my younger brothers age and is smarter than most people I know. I was so impressed and felt pretty unaccomplished. Whatever, I emailed him.
5. Favorite restaurant of the trip: Uchiko. Japanese farmhouse dining that gives Sushi of Gari a run for its money. We did a testing menu: big eye tuna with goat cheese and apples, crispy Brussel sprouts, the craziest sushi rolls you can imagine, and fried milk to name some highlights. Also, spotted Molly Sims there, who Steph already knows, duh.
6. We drove out to the heart of Texas with the Zappos crew to Smitty’s Market, for the best barbeque ever. Sorry Pappy’s. No forks, no plates, no problem. Just a lot of meat.
7. College is the best time to start a company. Universities need to encourage entrepreneurial students from different disciplines to come together and turn an idea into something real. Collaboration and competition is necessary for a start up to be successful, and college campuses have literally every resource you need. Faculty must encourage entrepreneurial spirit.
8. In addition, all colleges should send faculty, advisors, students, anyone to SXSW. You learn more in Austin than you do in school.
9. Google Village is really cool. I sent a video message from Austin to a digital Coke machine in Chelsea Market in NYC and watched live as a stranger watched my video and picked up a free Coke.
10. Emily Schuman, the creator of one of my favorite blogs Cupcakes and Cashmere was invited to speak at SXSW. The day that I conquered Austin alone, I went to hear her speak and was even more obsessed. She is fabulous. She’s currently building her brand and wants to focus on interior design. I obviously pitched Dormify to her afterward. She’s into it. Hopefully you’ll see an interview with her or a pattern designed by her on the site soon!
Will one of the Zuckerman's be...?