More than 1500 innovators, entrepreneurs, developers, engineers, angel investors and a handful of marketers descended on Las Vegas last week for SXSW V2V (visionary to visionary, or voice to voice, or voice to visionary, or visionaries to Vegas), bringing together creative people from all sectors to learn, think and network.
After six years attending SXSW in Austin, I was very excited to attend a more manageable and focused conference, where you could not only hit nearly every session, but you had the time and mental capacity to think, process and discuss takeaways with fellow attendees. Just like the good old days in Austin.
Here are some of my key takeaways:
- Embracing disruption through innovation:
No matter what industry you name — publishing (Amazon), transportation (Uber), books (Kindle), watches (Pebble), healthcare (Google Glass), B2B, B2C — legacy companies, entrepreneurs and innovators are looking to reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately, companies built on traditional models who are resistant to change are in for a bumpy ride. But on the flip side, artists, creators and technologists are creating new business opportunities, and these big companies are acquiring them. According to the speakers throughout the conference, immigration, technology legislation, private and public investments, and connectivity will all drive or stifle this movement. Not to mention consumer adoption, but this crowd tends to believe consumers will come if the disruptive idea is great enough.
- Transparency Natives:
Transparency Natives are defined as the next generation of consumers who have been raised on transparent business practices who possess full knowledge or access to information like: manufacturing conditions overseas, environmental concerns, health risks, executive scandals, etc.). It goes without saying that technology is equipping and enabling this transparency (user reviews, Wikipedia, Google). As such, it is already redefining traditional advertising and marketing strategies, which used to focus on how things should/could be, rather than magnifying how things are today.
- Hardware renaissance:
Move over, apps. Building on the emerging trend highlighted at CES in January and SXSW in March, startups and entrepreneurs are continuing to focus on the importance, value and opportunity in tech innovations through hardware design. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are helping fuel innovations in hardware by providing the capital for hardware innovation up front.
- Future of Wearable Technology:
Building on the hardware trend, innovators are excited about new wearable technologies like Google Glass, smart watches and fitness tracking bands. Whether it’s a focus on healthcare (teleconsultation apps reducing redundancy and improving coordination of care) to haptic feedback (using electronic current to simulate different forms of touch) to delivering on the promise of the smart watch (Pebble, Kreyos, iWatch) there is a growing focus on how these new devices will add value, talk to each other and create experiences that add value.
- Unplugging and Setting Up a Culture that Fosters Creativity:
One of the benefits and challenges of starting your own company is you get to set the rules and working culture. For many start-ups, this means setting clear work/life boundaries to prevent inevitable burnout and a reduced spirit of creativity. This is a subject I’m passionate about, and it was radical to hear young entrepreneurs testify to the benefits of placing culture as a priority that drives business.
Compelling quotes from my notes:
- We live in an era of “digital Darwinism,” a time when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of many organizations to adapt.
- Innovation begins with an idea on how to improve something that may not “be broken.”
- All products are windows into new worlds.
- As more people wear Google Glass, brands must consider how to architect ZMOT experiences from search to consideration to purchase to post-purchase sharing in an entirely new way.
- “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, you have to go together.” -African proverb
- Second internet revolution will be improving how we live our lives and contribute to growth that add value
- If you want to get unemployment down, you have to go all-in on startups and entrepreneurs. Most of the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants, and most of the startups in Silicon Valley don’t come from traditional companies.
- Europe’s economy is slowing down because they don’t have an innovative culture. Detroit is a real-time example of this. Sixty years ago, Detroit was Silicon Valley — the most innovative region when cars were the most innovative tech. And Detroit was the pride of American and envy of the world. At it’s core, today, Detroit has lost it’s innovative mojo. We need to understand that story so we’re making investments and not coasting in our own businesses and in our own communities. If we are complacent, our global competitors will eat our lunch.
- When was the last time your life was running at a pace you could handle?
- We’re told to embrace failure, but we don’t fail purposefully.
- Pick things you’re not good at; try them; fail; and figure out what you can do successfully within those parameters.
- “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picasso
- “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” -Simon Sinek
- Advertising should help companies be great, not just say they’re great. If you focus on behavior, you can build on magnets over megaphones.
- “If you want to innovate from corporate culture, you have to get pretty far from corporate culture.” – Alex Bogusky
- Build your team based on your target consumer. Companies should develop HR hiring practices that grows
- teams who match their customer base, which will allow your business to best address their needs, interests and allow you to grow and evolve in lock-step with your audience.
- Technology was supposed to free up time for us to spend time with our family and kids, but we’ve filled that time with mindless social media activities.
- We have become incredibly obsessed with what could be happening over there, while being distracted from the here and now.
- The always-on culture is: revealing new advances in language, body language and nuance, helping many overcome isolation in their physical community, fostering global collaboration and partnerships, growing our circle of concern and leading to more personalized communication. However, we tend to only share the best of who we are — a curated sense of truth (success theater), and people aren’t expressing the true nature of who we are.
- Most innovation happens when you apply something outside your industry to your own.
As I said in my 5 Things That SXSW V2V Does Better than SXSW Interactive post, the caliber of the SXSW community — whether in Austin or a smaller, spin-off conference in Vegas — continues to be extremely high and unrivaled by most events. The programming has ranged from adequate to engaging. Las Vegas is actually set up for conferences. The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is contagious in Downtown Vegas.
And although I miss the barbecue, breakfast tacos and overall Austin-style we’ve come to expect from SXSW, I will gladly come to Vegas for Year #2 of SXSW V2V.