I’m taking my first journey to SXSW this Friday (Sign up for my mentor session!), and it just so happens that Laura Beck, an old friend from high school (the Bishop Watterson Screaming Eagles of Columbus) is a longtime Austin technology PR vet (and founder of StripedShirt). And not only that, but she’s also a big-time SXSW pro and host of the long-running nightly “Meatup” at Fogo de Chao, to which she’s graciously invited me.
Knowing she has a thing for sharing SXSW tips with startups (Attention Tech Companies Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Launch at SXSW), I thought I’d hit her up for some one-on-one advice.
Here’s our entirely not-staged Q&A:
Me: OK – finally heading to SXSW Interactive. What the heck do I do there?
Laura: I wish I could give you better and more tips and suggestions on how to make the most of SX. It’s just too overwhelming to even try to tackle that. (Note to self, call it South by, not SXSW.)
Basically, go with the flow.
If you have a pass, pick out sessions you like, that seem interesting, but don’t stay in one and give up an hour for something crummy. Move on to something else if it doesn’t get you fast. And the lobbies and hallways are just as valuable for meeting people, talking, etc.
Me: There are tons of parties. Cool, right?
Laura: The evening parties are gross. GROSS. That’s why I do our Meatup event. You will see enormous lines everywhere. Your badge means very little for these parties, and IF you even get in, inside it’s too noisy and dark and annoying. I can’t stand the big parties.
Me: Oh. But all the recommendations say to go to the big parties. Guess I’ll take your word for it, though. So if not parties, then what?
Laura: While you are here, try to take advantage of some of the awesome Austin food, though they are all hugely crowded. TexMex – Chuy’s, Maudies and Polvo’s. Or downtown, and a bit fancier, La Condessa, or Garrido’s BBQ. Don’t do the trek to Salt Lick, way too far. Get in the Franklin’s line if you can! Lambert’s downtown is higher end but good.
And last, nothing is better for the Austin Vibe than Guero’s. Super cool to hang out there for awhile, and get the S. Congress fun, too.
Me: Just looked at Guero’s. Were those flour tortillas on their home page? Might have to pass on that one. Flour tortillas are for Chili’s. What about all those food trucks? I hear they’re all over. Which ones should SXSW folks try?
Laura: My faves are Mellizoz Tacos (formerly Izzoz Tacos), and Gourdoughs Specialty Donuts on S. First Street. Mickelthwaite is another good food truck. Muellers, not worth it, too spicy and far east side.
Me: Laura – thanks for the info. Maybe I can convince myself I’ll bump into interesting SXSW folks at these restaurants, and do SXSW – I mean SX – that way…