Around 70,700 professionals from 95 countries flocked to the 30th South by Southwest (SXSW) from March 10-19, 2017 in Austin, Texas. The state shed its western image and became the axis of the world’s biggest international digital, media and music conference. Some 70 Hamburg-based start-ups, which many consider a launching pad to the United States and the world, flew to Texas in the hope of meeting international audiences and making plenty of new contacts.
Delegates had a choice of more than 2,000 conference sessions. The companies representing Hamburg are funded by the city. Their presentation is organised by the Hamburg Music Business Association (IHM) and the Reeperbahn Festival. Events in Austin included all kinds of networking events, corporate presentations, product pitches and music showcases as well as panel discussions. In 2006, the annual Reeperbahn Festival launched along similar lines and has since morphed into a key event for Europe’s music and digital industry.
Start-ups with social-business models
Four Hamburg-based start-ups keen to find solutions to pressing social, ecological and social problems attended SXSW last year. They included, for instance, a start-up named Refugee First Response Center (RFRC) which provides interpreter services in high-tech containers to help refugees overcome initial language problems. The remainder consisted of companies such as the non-profit organisation Viva con Agua which is committed to establishing access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation for people all over the world and Lemonaid. Every bottle of “lemonaid” purchased supports the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation that aims to achieve social change. The Nüwiel also pitched their intelligent, electricity-run bicycle trailer successfully at SXSW in the past. The company’s founders hope to ease traffic, lower noise and keep pollution to a minimum with their invention.
From health to tech start-ups
Other Hamburg-based start-ups in Texas last year included Connected Health, which is driving digitalisation in the health sector ahead with a Lifetime Hub for transferring patient data safely. Jonathan Kurfess, who co-founded Appinio that conducts market research in hours, went to SXSW last year to stir up global interest in the app and beyond Hamburg. Picalike, a software provider that teaches computers to understand visual content, and Puttview by Viewlicity GmbH represented Hamburg’s tech scene. Puttview calculates the ideal putt line for golfers in real-time. Professional golfers have already successfully tested an indoor version and the team is working on an outdoor version with an augmented reality headset for visualisation. Also in Texas were Baqend, a provider of cloud services.