Five SXSW Trends Impacting Your Startup's Future

The collision of culture and technology that occurs at the annual South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas is truly unique and unmatched. Technology, culture, business, celebrities and food all come together to create the chaos and excitement that is SxSW. The goal of the AED Business Investment Group at SxSW is to get a fast download of all the happenings in technology and business while interfacing with interesting individuals and companies from across the country. We are able to learn about the emerging industries that could bring jobs to Arlington, as well as study the policies and practices being implemented by other jurisdictions around the country to foster and enhance efficiencies in government operations through technological advancements.  Here are five key trends that you should know about:

  1. The Customer Experience and Privacy is Key in Emerging Healthcare Startups:
    23andMe hosted a panel discussion about the company’s efforts to enhance customer experience while providing privacy in a rapidly growing space. The company’s representative relayed a story of one customer who, through using 23andMe’s DNA testing, discovered that they shared the genetic makeup with another user – not just a distant cousin in this case, but an actual sibling. The catch? This user didn’t have any siblings … or so they thought. What started as a simple curiosity to learn about his genetic make-up, this man discovered a family secret that caused his parents to get a divorce after decades of marriage. This sort of revelation brings a whole new level of “customer experience” to the table, revealing secrets that otherwise would go undiscovered.
  2. The Role of Media and Journalism in the New Political Climate:
    CNN’s Jake Tapper took part in a panel discussing the role of journalism in a post-fact, fake news world. The conversation focused on the importance of an honest and unbending media pursuing facts and holding politicians accountable. With Arlington’s proximity to the policy-makers in Washington, as well as the robust presence of media companies (Politico, PBS, Bloomberg and Sinclair Broadcast Group, etc.), Tapper’s commentary was an important reminder that the merging of politics and journalism is a vital and visible part of life in the D.C. region. The increasing role of technology, as well as the renewed importance of journalism will certainly open the door for startup companies in the space. Axios Media, a spin-off of Arlington’s Politico, recently started operation in Clarendon. 
  3. Artificial Intelligence Will Have Huge Impacts in the Future of Security and Identification:
    We stopped by the Intel AI Lounge where we tested out their age-analysis application, which accurately predicted our age ranges based on our facial features. Possibly something Arlington-based Transportation Security Administration may be looking to adopt in the not-so-distant future? IBM was showing off it’s super-computer Watson’s abilities at their house at Brazons Hall on East 4th Street. First, using a series of questions and a blind taste test, Watson was able to tell participants what their perfect beer was. No surprise here, but Watson nailed it. Participants could also take part in a qualitative analysis in which Watson analyzed each participant’s answers and gave them a “personality type.” Data analytics is certainly the way of the future, and IBM’s showcase exhibited the variety of ways that data can be used to analyze, enhance and improve the world around us. No matter where you choose to look in Arlington, you’ll find a new company rapidly growing in the space of analytics. 
  4. Location Matters for Startups, but Silicon Valley is No Longer the Only Place to Be
    No longer is Silicon Valley the only place a company can thrive. The Washington, D.C. metro area is emerging as a hot spot for startups, and three reasons stand out: 1. Quality of life; 2. Access to a world-class workforce; 3. Location, location, location. The D.C. metro area has one of the highest educated, hardest working, and technically advanced workforces in the country. In Arlington, Phone2Action, Opower, and Advanced Predictive Technologies are just some of the more publicized companies who have thrived. At the WEDC House, the D.C. government was showcasing several D.C. based companies, ranging from a digital guitar learning interface to a ride-sharing carpool for kids. The overwhelming theme of the WEDC House was inclusion and advancement of technology, showcasing all that the city and region offers for fast-growing technology companies.
  5. The Future of the Sharing Economy:
    As Darren Stauffer explained in his post, the sharing economy was a hot topic in Austin. After last year’s SxSW Conference, both Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin after local legislation was passed requiring fingerprint identification for all drivers. This change has allowed for multiple local ride-sharing applications to fill the void, but based on some reviews by the Austin media, SxSW attendees felt the services lacked the quality of Uber and Lyft. A panel discussion regarding the future of the sharing economy cited numerous examples of what the future may hold. In Amsterdam, the City’s government rents out buildings and cars when they aren’t being used during their normal business functions. Are government facilities about to enter the sharing economy? Would Arlington benefit from renting out facilities and vehicles on a sharing economy platform?

What trends did you learn about at SXSW and how do you plan to leverage them for your business?




Topic: BIG Update
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