Beth Kelly’s Top 6 Take-Aways from SxSW

I spent the last four days basking in the buzz of creativity and innovation at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas as a sponsor of Michigan House. The festival venue, a self-labeled “experiential embassy” promotes Michigan-based career and lifestyle opportunities in effort to attract new talent to the state. At Michigan House we hosted concerts by local musicians, talks by entrepreneurs, discussions about disruption in mobility and e-commerce spaces, and—of course—a beer tasting from Bell’s Brewery.

Here are six things I took away from my time in Austin:

  1. Creative people are going to change the world.  Most of the 75,000 people who attended the conference are ready to get going.  They have built a better mousetrap (vehicle, dating app, music experience, defense system) and aren’t afraid of failure… or success.  
  2. We have to get autonomous vehicles right.  I listened to Alisyn Malek, the COO at May Mobility speak about this.  Her company analyzes millions of data points to continuously improve the safety of these vehicles. Malek is smart and careful. I feel better knowing she’s at the helm of this movement.  
  3. People matter.  Yes, technology is a booster, but everyone I met, listened to, or read about talked about the right people, the right fit, the right culture as key to their success.  The recurrence of this theme throughout the weekend was a great validation for the work we do at HR Collaborative.
  4. Place matters.  The SXSW conference experience is enhanced by the fact that Austin is a great city.  Michigan House created a place where people could actually feel the energy of the state.  And entrepreneurs see value in making your workspace happier with better furniture, lighting, monitors and screens, and even plants that are hard to kill.  The place where things happen makes a difference.
  5. Dan Gilbert is an entrepreneurial giant.  Through the Michigan-based businessman’s venture capital company, Bedrock Ventures, he’s provided early stage investment for about 100 companies that are transforming Detroit.  All these companies are creating jobs and growing investment for the state.
  6. We all need to get out more. Great ideas don’t come from answering emails or perusing the internet.  The energy and enthusiasm of being there, of personal interactions, and philosophical dinner conversations are what will make the world a better place. 
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