GEN @ SXSW 2023

Cecilia Wessinger
4 min readMar 19, 2023

Over a decade ago my son and I attended SXSW as part of a roadtrip during his high school spring break. We didn’t have a pass or much knowledge of the event except that all the cool kids went. My involvement with SXSW Pitch the past few years now expand and offer different experiences.

This year’s experience was different.

For those unfamiliar, South by Southwest (SXSW ) is part conference, trade show(s), and festival(s). Creatives from film, music, visual arts, innovation and entrepreneurship converge mid March in Austin, Texas. The city that strives to “Keep Austin weird” sees locals and international guests bringing an economic impact of over $280M (in 2022) over the course of 10 days. This year will likely exceed that as there have already been record setting days of events.

Attending “South By”, as it is commonly known, the weekend Silicon Valley Bank failed presented a unique opportunity to speak with insiders and people affected first hand. On a panel hosted by our friends at Established, fireworks erupted on a panel of venture capitalists. Raw reactions unedited by communications teams were shared as ripple effects were felt across our innovation community. Finger pointing, blame, fear along with pragmatic advice, reminders of hope and inspiration echoed.

There are “official” events and access depends on badge levels and Activations, like Established’s event does not require a badge, but you may need to sign up in advance. There are a myriad of spreadsheets shared in numerous groups listing them. They’re not secret, but it does take intention and connecting to learn about them.

There are lines to sessions, side events and almost everything. If you want to make the most of SXSW, talk with the people around you on line. Sit with random strangers and start a conversation. You are in the midst of very interesting people.

New and old friends enjoying South African food truck dinner.

I cannot emphasize enough the best part of events like SXSW are the people you meet, connect and reconnect with. They may be the next unicorn founder, funder for your startup, prolific writer, advisor, Global Entrepreneurship Week State Coordinator, run an accelerator/ incubator/ coworking space, vender you didn’t know you could live without, association executive director, future or past colleague or renowned ecosystem builder. See if you can spot them…

With or without a badge, you can make connections and an impact. Hangover brunches with founders changing the way we grow food, side event for an app platform that help organizers and build community, ice cream social justice with innovators digitizing and advancing life sciences and reminding us how important play is to creativity ( new podcast alert: PlayFull Podcast). It’s all there and more!

By no means is this a proclamation that I’m a cool kid…but now I know many of them and got to hangout together at SXSW. It’s telling to see many of the US Government Intelligence Agencies had booths at the Creative Expo. Obviously, the NSA, CIA, FBI and others see the value of recruiting talent and having conversations with attendees here. It was wonderful seeing US Patent and Trademark office as well as trade delegations from places like Indonesia, Canada and Puerto Rico represented.

Go to all the things…dream and be weird. Inspire, interact and engage! Events like SXSW, Inventures, Rally and our upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Congress are opportunities to discover the one thing we can only do together.

#masscollaboration #ecosystembuilding #eship #genglobal

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Cecilia Wessinger

Community & Ecosystem Builder, Collaborator, Catalyst, Speaker/ Facilitator. Lover of words, ideas and people.