Here's How To Launch A Company At SXSW This Year


Photo: Laughing Squid via Flickr

“Twitter did it in 2006 (and blew up at 2007). Foursquare did it in 2009 (and blew up at 2010). So, got any advice for launching at SXSW 2011?” a Quora user inquires.Robert Scoble, Rackspace Web Hosting’s tech enthusiast, wrote a great answer on the Q&A site.

Here’s the Scobleizer’s advice on how to successfully launch at SXSW.

Here’s how to do it >>
Quora is a question and answer site where experts respond to their communities. For more about Quora, check out our exclusive interview with founder Adam D’Angelo.

1. Launch a couple of weeks before hand.

Why? Most of the press is tired at SXSW and you'll never get as good coverage as you will a couple of weeks before. But SXSW is a GREAT accelerant!

So, get word out, get people to load your app on the way to Austin, then get them to tell their friends about it. Here's a list of tech journalists. A good percentage of these folks will be at SXSW:!/Scobleizer...

2. Get as much PR right beforehand as possible.

Twitter, in 2007, got hot because Leo Laporte and I both talked about it right before SXSW.

3. Do things AT SXSW to get people to talk.

In 2007, Twitter had display screens around the hall that displayed tweets. Last year the Foursquare team was playing real-life foursquare with people and handing out T-shirts and badges and stuff.

4. Build something that takes advantage of the very early-adopter audience that's there.

Look at Plancast.

Out of all the events on my schedule, only SXSW has more than 1,000 people already checked in on Plancast.

6. Make sure your systems rock on mobile, especially iPhones and Androids.

This audience doesn't use crappy Nokia phones, but they are looking for bleeding edge mobile experiences.

7. Take advantage of bigger companies and bigger parties.

Rackspace, for instance, has done big parties the past two years (we're still thinking about what we'll do this year) and I saw people working the lines handing out info on new services. Some were even smarter and made deals to be official partners (which, in some cases, was free) and got to show people how to use their services inside the party (which means they also got free drinks and food from us).

8. Make sure your staff has a staff shirt.

Make it red, or some other bright colour that will stand out in a crowd.

Why? That way when someone asks me where I just got the cool piece of swag you handed me I'll just say 'look for the folks wearing the red shirts over there.'

9. Think about the swag you'll hand out.

Stickers are always fun. But if you can come up with some way to get people to talk, do it.

10. Create viral loops whenever you can.

Have contests for your existing users to get more friends on at SXSW, for example.

11. Yes, bring business cards.

Here's some best practices: But also be ready for apps like Bump, or, CardMunch.

12. Influence the influencers.

Make a list of 20 influencers beforehand. Folks like, well, Gary Vaynerchuk, Kevin Rose, Matt Mullenweg, Pete Cashmore, Leo Laporte, etc, and see if you can get them to use (and, more importantly, tweet and endorse you right before SXSW). Here's a list of influencers to think about:!/Scobleizer...

For more tips on how other startups won the spotlight, check out:

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