Backstage with SXSW Interactive Festival Director Hugh Forrest

hughforrest-sxswIn this 30-minute audio interview, SXSW Interactive Festival Director Hugh Forrest shares the hilarious story about how he first got involved with SXSW, how he and his team keep the festival relevant and engaging year after year, the importance of community in the interactive space, how they are working to address the infrastructure problems due to crowding in Austin during the festival, and why it’s important to plan your festival, but also “surrender to serendipity”.

SXSW Interactive is an incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, featuring the brightest minds in emerging technology, networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. With past keynotes from notable guests such as Elon Musk, Howard Rheingold, Bruce Sterling, Ev Williams, Limor Fried, Mark Cuban, Mark Zuckerberg, DJ Spooky, Malcom Gladwell, Larry Harvey, Heather Armstrong, Tony Hseih, and Ray Kurzweil among others, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview the technology of tomorrow today.

Backstage with Influential Content Producer / Strategist and URB Magazine Founder Raymond Roker

Raymond RokerIn this informative 42-minute interview, URB.COM founder Raymond Roker shares how his passion for urban youth culture, art, electronic and hip-hop music, technology, and club life helped him transform a ‘zine based out of his L.A. studio apartment into a prominent media powerhouse with a dedicated global audience. Raymond also discusses his work with the successful launch of the Scion brand for Toyota in the U.S. market, content strategy for Red Bull, how he approaches the balance between art and commerce, how to prioritize which media projects to take on, important areas of electronic music culture that entrepreneurs can find lasting solutions for, and good music that currently moves him.

Watch The Full Program Below

Raymond Roker is an Artist, DJ, Head of Content Strategy and Production at Goldenvoice (they produce the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival) / Founder of URB.COM. Raymond is a seasoned media producer, communicating progressive culture in a multichannel cross platform world. documenting cultural movements, shifts and lore; a 23-year history of putting passion and authenticity first; a forerunner in independent media targeting emerging urban culture; convergent youth marketing; brand development, branded content; alternative and social media; Raymond is an urban historian, deeply knowledgeable in music and cultural anthropology

Want audio only? Right click here to download the mp3 version of this interview

SXSW V2V 2013 Review

Scott Belsky SXSWV2V 2013For the past 26 years SXSW has been practically synonymous with Austin, Texas, so why did they decide to take their newest conference SXSW V2V on a road trip over 1,200 miles away to Las Vegas, Nevada?

As you would expect from a 4 day event focused on bringing together the startup, venture capital, and creative communities, it was much more of a smart solution to growing pains than it was a roll of the dice.

The SXSW series of events including SXSW Music, SXSW Interactive, and SXSW Film have become so popular that the current infrastructure in Austin (hotels, traffic, sanitation, safety etc.) can quickly become overloaded and impact the quality of experience for attendees.

Solution: In addition to successfully hosting over 4,944,014 attendees at 21,615 conventions in 2012, Las Vegas is home to The Downtown Project which approaches the entire city as a startup ecosystem and brings together entrepreneurs, creatives, and capital to create Lean and holistic solutions to the city’s long term growth. Through that lens SXSW V2V in Las Vegas makes a lot of sense.

Was it worth attending? To me yes, but it depends on why you are going.

There were expected motivating keynotes from Tony Hseih, Steve Case, and Lauren Bush Lauren , over 200 dynamic speakers and panelists sharing their hard earned insights from a wide spectrum of industries and cultures (I especially enjoyed Brian Solis’s talk), hands-on workshops, 1 on 1 mentor sessions, a live startup pitch competition, and fun networking and entertainment events. Beyond that, what made the conference worthwhile for me was that SXSW V2V facilitated an amazing amount of serendipitous events that were very satisfying professionally and personally.

Most business conferences I’ve attended although useful, tend to become an echo chamber of the same thoughts, ideas, and schmoozing. What I liked about SXSW V2V is that you had approx. 1,500 action and solution oriented attendees in a small space, cross pollinating ideas and resources, and you never knew who you’d bump into. Since much innovation and growth comes from reaching outside your direct area of expertise, it just makes sense that a conference focused on entrepreneurship would be framed this way.

If you attend SXSW V2V focused on lead generation, then you’ll probably come away disappointed. If you attend it with a contribution and exploration oriented mindset, then you just might walk away with your next co-founder, source of funding, marketing strategy, or yes…big client.

Despite a few minor hiccups with shuttle buses downtown and mentors getting booked up too quickly, I felt those issues can be overlooked given the ease of  getting around Las Vegas via Taxi (I also met some cool entrepreneurs in a shared cab from The Golden Spike) and the fact that this is their first year hosting this event.

I definitely plan to attend SXSW V2V next year.