Guest post by Candace Randolph, Founder + Designer, Chalkboard China
Every year at SXSW I can’t wait to arrive in Austin and meet new people and hear about their passions and the progress they have made on their passions. If you know me at all, you know that my brain could explode at any moment with a new idea/campaign/movement/business/sale tactic. Are you like me? Do you have passions and ideas? Well, over coffee most Saturday mornings my husband, Ben Randolph (LinkedIn), is subject to the outpour of these ideas that kept me awake the night before. Often, in my mind, these ideas are admittedly really solid, a means to an end for a group of people, an app to answer a human need, a philanthropy to save something. When one of our four children awake, we decide to table the discussions for the office, a more suitable space from ideating, and begin our role as the pancake chef and master pastry artist they require us to be. Back to SX, here is my struggle: following through on that idea or picking which idea is the most impactful to the world. At SX, though, I love to find those individuals who have passed the mark of idea, they are all in, and have brought their idea to fruition. I am so proud and excited to hear their stories. Whether on a rooftop or on a private boat party, I tend to gravitate towards passionate, talkative, world-changers who are looking for the next piece to their puzzle. Usually in a conversation I find out about their amazing world-changer start-up and something inside me says, “I should get involved in this, this is amazing and going to change the world or change its eco-system or genre” — but at SXSW you meet these people with these companies at a rate of 15 per hour. I am not kidding. The talent and passion in Austin, Texas right now is amazing to think about. I must admit when I was sitting in the Obama keynote my mind went to that scary place of ” if someone wanted to place an attack on the tech industry, unfortunately, this would be a good time” — ugh I hate that our minds have to dabble there even for a second. Okay, back to the absolute thrill of being in conversations with so many people passionate about changing their world (and changing our world). I will give you a few key takeaways from a few I ran into yesterday:
Draftkings – A world that I don’t understand. Fantasy sports. I mean, I was the girl in college who would get involved in the March Madness pool and pick teams. When I met my husband we had fun picking a 10 game parlay on Saturdays during college football, it made watching all the games so much fun. But the fantasy world I just missed that boat. BUT, what I can appreciate is Paul and some others seeing that their passion was missing something. Draftkings was created and what I loved most about what Paul Liberman, COO, (LinkedIn) had to say was that during the life of their company, he will never forget seeing a TWEET that a user had posted stating that they had never been a hockey fan in the past but because of using draft kings they were fully immersesed in the sport. I loved hearing that they brought someone into the wild world of hockey by what they presented the sports eco-system with their platform.
ArtLifting – Oh, I love this one. Liz Powers (LinkedIn) has a great thing going! I love the desire to create commerce and opportunity for those who aren’t able to see a quick path to making it for themselves. Here’s an excerpt from Techcrunch: “ArtLifting, an online art marketplace for homeless, disabled and other disadvantaged people to sell their artwork, recently raised a $1.1 million seed round from Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, angel investor Joanne Wilson, author and entrepreneur Eric Ries, social impact accelerator Tumml and others. Currently, ArtLifting has 50 artists from eight U.S. cities on the platform. Ed Johnson, pictured above, is one of the people currently selling art on ArtLifting. Johnson became homeless after Hurricane Katrina and had previously suffered from substance abuse, but is now sober.”
It will be exciting to follow-up and foster these relationship after we leave Austin. I look forward to sharing with Ben and Agency Entourage some creative ways that I think we can offer the start-up world, our community and state by partnering with government and connecting the dots to make it easier for those with great ideas to make it to the next level. For some, Agency Entourage, is what they are missing. Many are passionate about their target market or cause but do not have a passion or perspective on branding, customer acquisition strategies, marketing execution, digital strategy which all a huge in the advancement of the brand/idea/company. I am excited to see how we can step in and foster and encourage and take part in the evolution of these world-changers and their ideas.