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 In ae-ideas, Meet The Entourage, SXSW
Ben and Candace Randolph in Austin

(Ben and Candace Randolph in Austin)

Agency Entourage has been representing the DFW area at SXSW for years. We believe that it’s important for us to attend each year because it allows us to bring all the knowledge we gain back to the DFW area. Our Principal and founder, Ben Randolph, has been attending SXSW Interactive for over a decade. He hasn’t missed a year.

We take SXSW pretty seriously. You could almost say Agency Entourage was born at SXSW. A lot of people don’t know this about us. The idea behind our agency was sparked on the way home from SXSW in 2009. It’s true. Ben and his agency partner at Wave Omnimedia literally created the concept of a 100% digitally-focused agency in a car traveling home from SXSW.

Looking back, the move seems almost unavoidable. But, it’s true. Our agency was conceived in a car on the way home from five days of technology-focused breakout sessions and networking events. By the time Ben and his partner hit the Dallas city limit, we had a name and Agency Entourage was ready for business.

If anyone in the DFW area is qualified to discuss all things SXSW Interactive, it’s our Principal, Ben Randolph. We sat down with Ben for a quick interview about SXSW. Here’s what he had to say:

Chris Smith, Candace and Ben Randolph

(Chris Smith, Candace and Ben Randolph) 

Ben Randolph on SXSW: 

How Many Times Have You Been to SXSW Interactive?
My first year was 2005 so this will be my 12th South by.

What’s The Best SXSW Session You Have Ever Attended?
The most impactful session for me personally was a panel of entrepreneurs sharing their “life hacks” and discussing how they get what they have to get done in a normal day’s work. They discussed everything from virtual assistants to outsourcing your email management, to how and when is the best time to make phone calls.

Which SXSW Venue is Your Favorite?
When I want to keep a pulse on where our culture is headed, I spend time around the Startup Village in the Hilton adjacent to the convention center. But for all other networking and deal making you can find me at The Four Seasons lobby bar.

Who is The Most Interesting Person You’ve Met Over The Years at SXSW?
Slash from Guns n Roses on the rooftop of the Belmont.

Have You Ever Worked on Any Projects While Attending SXSW?
Agency Entourage and Wave Omnimedia have produced many private events and marketing campaigns at SXSW. In 2006 we produced a private event at Red Fez in the Warehouse district to launch the world premiere of the Gorillaz new album, Feel Good Inc. See a few sample SXSW activations here.

Do You Take Notes During Sessions?
Yes. I’m a huge fan of Evernote. I’m constantly taking notes during sessions. After SXSW is over I meet with my team and we discuss everything that we learned while attending SXSW. Everyone shares their top two takeaways (either personally or professionally). We then create new initiatives within the company based on our key takeaways. 

Why Do You Send Your Employees to SXSW?
We only hire inquisitive people at Agency Entourage and there’s no better place to learn and discover new trends than SXSW. It’s important that I push my team to keep looking forward and spend some time out of the weeds and open their minds.

Was Agency Entourage Really a Result of SXSW?
Yes. I spent a week at SXSW in 2009 and made the decision to launch an agency solely dedicated to helping brands evolve and make the shift online.

What’s The One Piece of Advice You’d Offer to Someone Trying to Get New Business at SXSW?
In every session I attend, I always make it a point to sit in between two people I don’t know. You never know who you’ll end up sitting next to at SXSW.  It’s about serendipity. We’ve landed a handful of new business this way. We’ve secured VIP invitations to highly sought after rooftop parties this way. We’ve made friends from all over the world this way. It’s contagious. If you take this approach you’re guaranteed to meet two new people at every session you attend. Do the math. If you go to six sessions a day, for five straight days, you’ll meet 60 new people.

Regardless of whether or not you’re attending SXSW this week, follow our team with #AEGetsWeird. We’ll be documenting our trip and you’ll get to see us (and Ben) from behind closed doors. Want to meet up during SXSW? Give us a shout out on Instagram or Facebook. Heck, give our office a call at (214) 414-3035 and someone will get you in touch with our team at SXSW.

Let’s get weird!

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