Over 96 packed hours each March, the annual SXSW conference becomes the center of the startup universe and this year Louisiana companies made a greater impact then ever. The conference has grown exponentially in the last two years with startups competing for attention to be the next big thing.
Louisiana fielded its own StartupBus this year, packing roughly 30 hackers and hustlers on board a rolling startup hub on Tuesday bound for Austin with the goal of building a company on the way there. Six Startup buses convened in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night before heading to Rackspace in San Antonio and then on to Austin. Teams produced videos for the semi-final round and one Louisiana team, Scoringo, ultimately made it into the finals of the competition.
Launch Pad Ignition, the New Orleans startup accelerator, brought the founders from its seven companies to Austin on a mission to connect them to the greater startup ecosystem, soak up the Lean Startup focused track, and pitch their companies to a national audience. After road-tripping to Austin, the founders all stayed together in a founders crash pad and hustled their way through events by TechStars, Microsoft, SoundTracking, TechCocktail and many more.
Taylor Beery of VoteIt was selected to pitch in the Hatch Pitch competition on Sunday and delivered a confident pitch and then “distrupted” the panel of judges by inviting audience members to vote for a crowd favorite on his own product, ultimately winning the unofficial audience vote. Chapman Snowden of Kinobi and Jeff Lin of Lawyerfy pitched at the Startup America American Airlines pitch, each winning awards from the judges.
Audiosocket was in Austin and made news by announcing AudiosocketU, a music licensing service geared at student filmmakers. Liveset arrived in Austin in a RV equipped to stream 10 pop-up shows during Interactive and Music in a SXSW series sponsored by Dell.
The Interactive conference culminated in the 4th annual Downtown NOLA SXSW party at the Lucky Lounge with Big Sam’s Funky Nation and DJ Black Socks. Hosted by the Downtown Development District, the party has become a SXSW favorite event among insiders who are ready for a night of New Orleans culture and fun and has been an important event in communicating the growth of the Louisiana tech scene. This year’s event was a startup world who’s who with attendees from Microsoft, Google, Inc Magazine, Spin Magazine, Glam Media, WPP, American Airlines, Startup America, & 500 Startups all getting down to Big Sam.
Louisiana has built an impressive presence at SXSW over the last four years and it shows in changing attitudes and a general awareness of the burgeoning tech startup scene in New Orleans. This weekend SXSW was the center of the startup universe and Louisiana startups were there in force. Next up, the long drive home to roll into New Orleans Entrepreneur Week energized and ready to rock from another great SXSW.