It seems like only a few years ago my understanding of South by Southwest was that it was primarily a music festival with some multimedia bits sprinkled in for flavoring. These days, SXSW is a multifaceted event of which art is but one part of the story. As reported by Tom Risen in U.S. News, the festival has become a key destination for ambitious startups, enterprising tech entrepreneurs, and deep-pocketed investors targeted with hundreds of pitches from hustling techies.
"A wealthy venture capital investor like Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL who attended SXSW, gets pitched a lot by people 'passionate about their idea,' he tells U.S. News. “I’ve certainly gotten my fair share of ‘elevator pitches,' Case says, referring to sales spiels so-called because they last about the length of an elevator ride."
Risen notes that as the traditional barriers to entry have fallen for folks eager to make their riches in the startup world, the need to put on an attention-grabbing spectacle has risen.
"Trying to strike the balance between hustling and being polite and coherent, entrepreneurs and promotional staff filled the streets of Austin during SXSW this month, performing in costumes while passing out fliers for tech startups.
That kind of passion is necessary to build momentum for a company, whatever approach entrepreneurs take, Case says."
That said, there's a limit to how far one should go in trying to get noticed. Risen quotes Big Think Expert Tim Ferriss, who mentions his distaste for a particularly annoying brand of hustling: the urinal pitch. The lesson to take away here is that startup culture has grown to such a degree (and with it the thirst for new funding and bright ideas), that we should expect more stunts like what we're seeing now at SXSW, but throughout other arenas in society.
Just keep the pitches out of the restroom.
Read more at U.S. News
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