The One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014

Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your Prii. 

UT Austin at SXSW

Gosh, is it even possible to get a blogger foot in the SXSW publicity door? The whole thing is like a giant ballroom full of chicken dancers–everyone is having fun but nobody is holding your hand. I honestly don’t know what that analogy means, but here is the One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014, selfishly featuring friends and alumni of McCombs School of Business.

Friday, March 7

Ubuntu Leadership: Leaders for a Connected Africa

Africa is on the rise, with a projected GDP by 2050 bigger than the U.S. and China combined, and a population that is young and anxious to experience economic and cultural growth. As evidence of that, their cell phone network already kicks our butt, but that’s another story. Enter John Kidenda, who graduated from McCombs with support from the African Leadership Bridge, a program designed to train the next generation of African Leaders. Kidenda will be joined by presenters Frank Aswani, Rick Reeder, and current UT Austin student Takalani Malivha.

Sunday, March 9

Should You Drop Out of School to Start a Company?

Short answer, it worked great for a small handful of people. Good luck! But seriously, Andrew O’Hara dropped out of the Texas MBA program to found Chiron Health, and he wants to tell you about “multiple perspectives surrounding…the value of staying in school for starting a company to dropping out to accelerate a career in entrepreneurship,” along with Cam Houser and Michael Gibson. Does anyone edit these session descriptions?

Big Data & Web Communities: Connect with a Click

Tying online activism to community organizing in order to achieve a better world. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start your Prii. Luke Kyohere is a recent MSTC grad at McCombs and he just won the Austinpreneur of the Year for 2014, so listen up. He is founder of Beyonic Technologies, which helps businesses in Africa incorporate mobile-based bulk payments into their operations. He is joined by Asha Curran, Larry Irving, and Parker Harris.

Middleware MOOConomics–Choosing the Right E-Tools

MOOC is a creepy nerd term that means getting an education in your pajamas. Which, as you can imagine, is a wildly appealing thought. Universities and faculty members are still trying to figure out how to MOOC on camera, since most faculty members are as photogenic as all the smart people you knew in high school. But seriously, McCombs alum and entrepreneur Donna Kidwell is doing some innovative MOOC-ing, and she will be joined by Dawn Zimmaro, Ross Strader, and Janet Walkow, a UT Austin faculty member.

Money Talks: Sources of Capital for Austin Firms

This session is distinguished by the complete absence of run-on sentences and odd non sequiturs in the session description. Clearly, these people are not creative. However, Laura Kilcrease is a former entrepreneur-in-residence at McCombs, and she is a certified really smart investor, so I’ll lay odds this will be a boffo session for those curious as to how money gets raised for a startup. Her co-presenters are Krishna Srinivasan of LiveOak Venture Partners, Bryan Allinson of the UT System, and Rosa L. McCormick of Wild Basin Investments.

Printing Chocolate: Food on Demand

These geniuses have rigged a 3D printer to spray chocolate in shapes. Because eating chocolate in boring squares just isn’t decadent enough. I know there has to be more to this, because Tech Ranch Austin thinks it is an industry worth exploring. The presenters promise to “broaden our understanding of the way we produce and consume food while seeking new ideas about the opportunities for innovation within our current food system,” which is something I’ve never thought about while consuming food. Piq Chocolates was co-founded by MBA alum Donovan Crowley. His partner Levi Lalla leads this session, together with Daniel Heron of Tech Ranch Austin.

Monday, March 10

Density: How to Create Silicon Valley in Your City

I’m confused. This is a discussion about how Austin and other cities use density in their central hubs as a way to convene and curate entrepreneurial activity. As someone who works a flex schedule to avoid the Austin density and get home in less than 75 minutes I don’t know whether to attend this session or bomb it. (NSA, that is not a real threat, I’m actually a very timid, peaceful fellow. God bless American density!) Josh Baer teaches a class in entrepreneurship at UT Austin, and he’s a sharp, straight-talking fellow, so lend some density to this session. He is joined by Donna Harris, Maria Adamian, and Steve Collens

Tuesday, March 11

Measure This; Change the World

What is real and what is not in the world of social media. “This panel presents findings and tips from scientific investigations with practitioners on counterpoint discussing how the theoretical rubber meets the real world road.” That sentence reminds me of my chicken dance opening line, but no matter. This session features one of my favorites folks, Ken Cho, Co-Founder and CEO of PeoplePattern, along with Kate Niederhoffer, Jeff Hancock, and Cindy Chung, who received her Ph.D. at UT Austin.

If the One Millionth SXSW Guide for 2014 didn’t satisfy you, visit UT Austin at SXSW for more university insights and networking, and don’t forget to wear Burnt Orange on Saturday. Now, I’m off to the chicken dance.

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