SXSW - © Merrick Ales
Das Austin Convention Center, Hauptveranstaltungsort der SXSW 2018 © Cris Dewitt/SXSW

Networking tops "to-do" list in Austin

First time at SXSW for Maren and Wagener, owners of Hamburg-based Vast Forward

In 2015, Maren and Matthias Wagener swapped their office in Hamburg for a sailing yacht. The couple provides digital services and manages projects such as display ad campaigns, web sites and apps for agencies and start-ups. To do so, they rely on over 100 programmers whom they contact on Skype, per email and telephone. The Wageners are back on land at the world’s biggest digital creative fair underway in Austin, Texas and now give Hamburg News an impression of their experience their so far

Maren und Matthias Wagener leiten ihr Digitalunternehmen Vast Forward von einem Boot aus

Arrival at SXSW

We arrived on Wednesday to move into our accommodation for the week – stress-free. We are sharing a small Airbnb house in east Austin with the Hamburg Startups delegation – an advantageous partner here! The Colorado River flows just one block away and is a super running track to power up for a long day at the conference.

Run-up to SXSW

On Thursday morning, we headed to the Austin Convention Center for registration and because we were early, we did not have to queue up and enjoyed the proverbial American kindness. Equipped with a badge, a pile of programmes and our T-shirts, we went around 6th Street to get our bearings. That afternoon, we went to “Smitty’s Market” in Lockhart for great, down–to-earth Texan barbecue equipment. Our guides went to a shooting range, but we just shot photos and chatted to some shooters, who said making your own ammunition is much cheaper – which was definitely an interesting experience. After shopping in the hip Whole Foods organic food market, we just headed home, as we had to practise our talk.

Day 1 of SXSW (March 9)

On Friday, we headed down to the Colorado to start the day with a nice run. The WhatsApp groups are warming up and the news, slide shows and reports are preparing us for a well-visited conference. Our first job is to prepare for the Vast Forward pitch. What are we going to say about ourselves and to whom? We can try that out in the afternoon. Sanja Stankovic, of Hamburg Startups, has eight years of experience with SXSW, and is the perfect organiser and matchmaker. Thanks to her, we have access to two exclusive SXSW locations – the Entrepreneurs’ Lounge at Fogo de Chão and a loft run by Kerry Rupp, of VC truewealth. We got to know Sanja’s U.S. counterpart, Chelsea Collier of Digi.City over drinks and flying food. Chelsea gets us an interview with Silicon Hills News. Apparently, the response to our “New Work” theme is good.

Day 2 of SXSW (March 10)

Saturday’s agenda includes the “Or/Not Daily Symposium”, the German Haus and the NEXT Meetup at Downtown Burgers. Naturally, the German sector meets up in an inspiring and inspired (Texan) environment. And we value inspiration just as much as networking here. In the early afternoon, we are off to “Reeperbahn Hamburgers” the ultimate burger joint and one of the main points of contacts for the Hamburg delegation. We meet the press e.g. NDR and t3n and have a short interview with Mathias Jaeger of Hamburg Startups about our first impressions. Networking is high on our to-do list here. This is where we meet representatives of agencies and industries in Hamburg over burgers and fries. We head to Fogo de Chão’s patio for a sundowner and to pick up on talks that morning. The end of another successful day spent networking and with lots of super talks about digitalisation and marketing is nearing the end.

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