Things we learned at South by Southwest 2013

Michael StoneInnovation

Sprooki took part in last month’s South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Trade Show held in Austin, Texas, alongside other Singapore-based companies with the support of IDA (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore).

Mike Holt, Incubation Manager at G2V Accelerator and Sprooki investor, writes about his experience at this year’s event.
Ever year all that is cool congregates in Austin at SXSW. No longer is SXSW just music or film, instead SXSW is about innovation. What a great place for Sprooki to show off its innovative location based mobile commerce solution.

Here are our 6 highlights from this event:

1. Investors are seeking new mobile commerce solutions: events such as SXSW are great platforms for Venture capitalists to hunt for new investments, and this year some VCs were specifically looking at mobile commerce solutions, hoping to find the ‘next best thing’.

2. Visibility of Singapore start-ups: this year, 9 Singapore-based start-ups were showcased with the support of IDA (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore). The goal was to help these explore new global market opportunities and use the event as a platform to hold discussions with VCs and international companies looking to do business with Asian entrepreneurs. Amongst the companies showcased were ConnectedHealth, which provides wireless connectivity platforms connecting health services to health providers via the cloud; Sprooki, provider of local marketing systems for retailers, aimed at better engaging shoppers and driving additional footfall into stores or malls, and YouCommentate, a mobile app that gives sports fans a choice in commentary to listen to while watching sports games.

3. App testing at its best: during the event, one App developer encouraged participants to download their App and whoever provided feedback received a free meal. It drew big interest from the crowd we must say. This is always an excellent way to drive usage and makes for great product testing.

4. Gadgets always spark interest: although SXSW has historically been known as a launchpad for new software solutions, the SXSW organisers estimated a significant increase in panels and presentations related to new gadgets. Some of the most talked-about products from start-ups this year include: 3-D printing solutions that allow users to create faster and cheaper prototypes; a camera capable of taking photos every 30 seconds and a gadget that allows the user to control computers and devices just by waving their hands. The question is: which one will take off?

5. The old trick of PR stunts and goodies will draw attention (one way or another): small and big companies look for innovative ways to attract viewers to their exhibition areas: Samsung gave free ice cream and pizza, and even hosted a panel with the ‘Arrested Development’ cast to draw attention to their Galaxy smartphones; on the other extreme, one start-up offered free piggyback rides on men wearing pink moustaches; another used a hologram of a saleswoman and one exhibitor offered U$ 50 Amex gift cards if you brought a yam (yes, the vegetable) to SXSW. Colourful PR stunts are always interesting to see (and experience) at these events.

6. Commerce goes local, social and mobile: nowhere was local, social mobile commerce more evident than at SXSW. Wait in line for a sandwich? Not at SXSW, simply scan a QR code and get a discount. Social and mobile are everywhere, but know where you are critical. Sprooki brings together social, mobile and local – indoors. The interest in this at the Sprooki booth was amazing.


By Mike Holt

G2V Accelerator

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