Today, SXSW Interactive 2011 kicks off.  During a few meetings this week and after my presentation to Social Media Club Dallas a few nights ago, I was asked for advice — people wanted to know how startups should act & what they should do at SXSW.  I am no expert, but here's what I told them:

  • Enjoy yourself & pace yourself
  • Spend time to really be thoughtful about your pitch.  Think back to your single days & you were trying to start a conversation with someone you were interested in.  If you aren't interesting in the first 15-20 seconds, you get blown off.  This is no different.
  • Don't get worked up by what other people are doing.  Marketing BS flows like alcohol, and often times the real story does not match the hype.
  • Control what you can control — like going to everything you can and meeting as many people as you can.  Leave it all on the field.
  • Spend time with customers, if you are in the business of selling anything to anyone.  It's a great time to understand needs, pain points, and opportunities.
  • Don't be stubborn.  Be open to new ideas and approaches that can help your business succeed.  Most startups today are mashups of other technologies, companies, etc. and there really aren't many fundamentally *new* ideas after all.  So discern what you hear but be sure to learn as well.
  • Eat all the BBQ & Tex-Mex you can
  • Get out & enjoy the sunshine a little also

Have fun, everyone!