Thoughts on SXSWi 2013

I got back late last Wednesday night from this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival (aka “spring break for nerds”) with my head full of new ideas and my body sore from abuse. This was inspired by Scott Porad’s list of learnings and when I read his, I realized that mine were completely different, illustrating how different an experience SXSW can be for different people.

- Tiny cheap computers (Raspberry Pi), 3d printing (MakerBot), practically free sensors & low power connectivity (Fitbit) are an amazing marriage that will create a future I can’t predict (but it’s happening now). The Raspberry Pi is about the size of Altoids tin, how small can this go? What other applications can a connected, low powered sensor drive? I think the key to this future is thinking about what we can (or should) do with all this power. No one wants SkyNet, but I think there are other more pleasant possible outcomes.

- Peter Thiel has a depressing outlook on the United States, but in some ways, it’s hard not to agree with him. I guess I should move to China if I want happy times?

- John Biehler reminded me that hobbies can lead to interesting new things to work on. Everything I’ve been successful in life doing has started off as a hobby.

- Most product people wrestle not having enough capacity to do all the things they want to do. Capacity to build still outweighs deciding what to build.

- Canadians are awesome.

- Creating a social/mobile/local marketplace is super difficult, but if you nail it, you can own it. The trick is identifying the market and starting VERY specifically (a neighborhood or a demographic in a city). Some examples include Zaarly & Lyft.

- There are lots of hosting companies that offer hosting for free for a limited amount of time. Img.ur used 3 providers before moving into AWS. Bootstrapping means a level of frugality that might be tough for people who are accustomed to having the “best” or “easiest”

- Having a team of crack networkers working together and understanding each other’s agenda’s is a great way to divide and conquer (even if we were the “Grumpy Old Men” of the Internet).

- Brisket at Stubb’s is really, really good.

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