SXSW Recap: Photo Booths, Boots, Business Benefits and a Cowboy

We’re back from the great state of Texas and slowly recovering from our SXSW experience. This was my fourth time to the event I’m amazed every year at how much bigger and more intense it seems: the city of Austin literally vibrates with energy 24×7, making it hard for old ladies like me to get their beauty rest.

This year, TJ Sondermann (our business development manager) and Christelle Lachapelle (marketing designer) made the trip to Texas with me. Because this was their first time attending, I asked them to share their impressions as folks who’ve never been to SXSW before. Here’s what they had to say:

Christelle’s thoughts

Christelle checks out some sweet boots in Austin, TX

1. What did you get most out of your SXSW experience?
It was  a great opportunity to meet people in real life that I previously had only “met” through email or Twitter (it was so cool to recognize people from their Twitter avatars). People were super-friendly and it was wonderful to connect with people personally.

2. What was the most surprising thing?
SXSW is HUGE! Even though my friends had told me that, I just couldn’t imagine it until I was there. There are so many sessions, meet-ups, parties and activities to participate in that it is really hard to decide what to do first.

3. What would you do differently if you went again?
I would spend more time researching the panel speakers to be more familiar with them when attending sessions. I would also attend more sessions outside of my usual area of interest. There are so many people doing innovative things and I would love to learn more about them.

4. What would suggest to someone else who was going for the first time?
Make a plan, but be flexible. Choose several sessions that interest you from each time-slot. Sometimes a session may not be as relevant as you had hoped and you can quickly switch to a different one that is a better fit for you. There is always something going on, so be open to changing your plans to try something new or to meet up with some interesting folks. Also, wear comfortable shoes! Look for parties and meet-ups in smaller venues so that you can really talk to people.

5. What was your favorite Austin small business?
Allens Boots was my favorite small business in Austin (although there were many great businesses there). I headed to Texas with a goal of buying a pair of cowboy boots and Allens was definitely the place to get the job done. There are miles & miles of gorgeous, colorful boots at Allens but the real treat is their super customer service. The sales people are knowledgeable and friendly and really make you feel welcome!

TJ’s musings

1. What did you get most out of your SXSW experience?
Absolutely by far making connections/having conversations with people that I knew well but hadn’t met and getting to know better the people that I sort of knew.

2. What was the most surprising thing?
The size. I knew the conference was big, but you really can’t comprehend 30,000 people crammed into a relatively small space until you’re there. Also, my ability to stay up past 3 am. On purpose.

3. What would you do differently if you went again?
Aside from not plan a huge event, I’d make more time to participate in the conference proper (sessions etc.) and bring more snacks. You’re constantly running around and even squeezing in a trip to CVS for a PowerBar can be hard.

4. What would suggest to someone else who was going for the first time?
Find a good app/calendar for keeping track of what is going on where, bring comfortable shoes, STAY FLEXIBLE, and if anyone asks you to tag along to something, no matter how tired you are, go for it – you never know what adventures await.

5. What was your favorite Austin small business?
The Trailer Park Food Court (Editor’s note: TJ loves himself some food trucks.)

Thanks guys for coming down this year and sharing in all the work and adventures! For those of you still reading, here’s a link to some of our fun party pictures from the Big Party for Small Business. You’ll have to click through to see the cowboy…

TJ and Michelle from BatchBlue hanging out with Guy Kawasaki


About Michelle Riggen-Ransom