Hitting up SXSW has been a long-time ambition for me, so it is with great delight that I'm here for 2018. A bizarre mix of festival vibe and conference (and very sunny weather #sorrynotsorry) SXSW covers a range of topics from hacking your life, to the future of blockchain technology and everything in between.
Here are a few of the lessons I've learnt on day 1:
- Investors are people too - During a panel discussing the rising value of FemTech, several successful female entrepreneurs talked about the challenges of raising finance for products that have an 'icky' element (think period trackers, smart tampons and fertility related products). The secret to overcoming this? Remember that investors are people too - they get embarrassed talking about topics they aren't that comfortable with. The key to getting your pitch through an investment committee? Leave investors with something that they will be comfortable talking about - facts, figures, and a clear route to exit.
- It's not all about Silicon Valley - There can be a temptation when looking to raise money, to head straight to SV. But if you're not planning on basing yourself permanently you should think again - it turns out most Silicon Valley VCs get nervous about investing in early stage companies where they can't be on hand to provide support and mentorship. Instead, think about approaching your local (regional and or national) VCs first, and save Silicon Valley until you're raising later stage capital.
- It turns out there's a science behind the concept of a 'soul mate' - Relationship expert Esther Perel says we are all born with a need for stability and a need for adventure, in various measures. A 'soul mate' is simply the person who provides you with the exact right balance of both.
- We might think that the digital revolution is happening faster than previous periods of change, but it's not - The incredible Tim O'Reilly compared the digital revolution to the industrial revolution. Did you know that, from the point machines were built to improve silk production, it took 100 years for silk production to reach it's peak in the US? 100 years later, the same factories that once employed 1000s of people became obsolete. The digital revolution began around 80 years ago with the development of the earliest computers (ENIAC was started in 1943). That means we're still about 20 years off 'peak digital', and the advances we're making are following the same speed, and the same patterns.
- The biggest threat to humankind could be linked to trust - digital healthcare has the potential to revolutionise how we treat injury and illness. But unless people trust the security linked to data-driven healthcare, and the motivation behind products (wearables, platforms) that collect personal data, widespread adoption won't happen.