The new, smaller festival is designed to connect and promote Internet start-ups.
SXSW, the annual three-headed conference/festival is a lot of things, including too big. The conference remains one of the most important conferences for the digital world. No other conference sits so conveniently at the intersection of music, media, film, and Internet technology. But something has been lost along the way. It used to be possible to go to SXSW and get a feel for what’s on the wire. It was possible to meet people and connect with new ideas. A lot of companies have gotten their start at SXSW and then a lot of those baby companies got a leg up.
That still happens of course, but now, there’s a lot of static on the line.
The SXSW Interactive team is hoping to go back to its roots a bit with their new conference SXSW V2V. We’re told V2V means a lot of things and nothing. We’ve heard Version 2 Vegas, Visionary to Visionary, Venture to Venture (or maybe Vision to Venture), whatever. The SXSW folks tell us, all those names are correct and all those names are incorrect. V2V is just V2V. The inaugural conference will be August 11-14, 2013 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
It will focus on startups, helping people get the word out and connect with new talent, new money, and new ideas. SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest says, “Startups have powered a lot of the growth of SXSW Interactive Festival over the last few years. In fact, we feel there is now enough momentum in the startup sector to power a second event.” Forrest says the team is excited about the opportunity to create a more intimate atmosphere. “SXSW V2V will start off as a much much much smaller event than what we do in Austin in March. The smaller size will provide a great setting for entrepreneurs to make important connections with investors, VCs, media and other entrepreneurs.”
While at first, Vegas might seem mighty old school for the eternal hipsters of SXSW, Forrest is seeing the town as a perfect venue for a new conference. Vegas is reinventing itself. The downtown area has been getting a facelift with the Downtown Project, a pet project of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. The Downtown Project hopes to reclaim the soul of Las Vegas by fostering small businesses and enabling community-based residential projects downtown. Hsieh will be the keynote at V2V. “Given the strength of the SXSW brand as well as all the exciting developments in Las Vegas with the Downtown Project, we see lots of long-term potential for SXSW V2V,” says Forrest.
In what must be a bid to foster the kind of camaraderie that comes from living in extreme conditions, the SXSW people have opted to have V2V in August. The focus will be on startups and will include keynotes, panels, mentor sessions, and live pitch sessions. The conference will also feature short talks by people who have gone through the experience of starting and growing businesses.
To qualify for the pitch sessions, the products and services must have launched no earlier than August 2012, or be ready to launch no later than November 2013. Companies are asked to submit only one product or service. The qualifying companies will be put through rounds of training sessions with a panel of advisors to help them fine-tune their pitches, and then the winners will be presented in a live pitch-off for awards. The application process is open now and so is registration at sxswv2v.com.