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Jenny Fielding ’94 BC – Peace, Love, & SXSW

Although we tend to put politics on the back burner during tech conferences (i.e. — if you’ve got the next Snapchat, all is forgiven by investors and consumers alike), SXSW 2017 kicked off with a hopeful message from both Joe Biden and Cory Booker who spoke of a “larger conspiracy of love” bringing us all together. And for the most part, SxSW seemed calmer and more chill than usual with noticeably fewer corporates attending this year and plastering logos / schwag everywhere. Despite the calm, here are some people you may want to avoid…. (although not sure I agree about public sleeping!)

And a few trends that I noticed:

Wearables Bounce Back. First we loved them, then we hated them and now we are curious once again. SXSW was abuzz with the Levis / Google collaboration that produced a jacket with washable conductive fibers that connect to your phone via Bluetooth clip. Feels like a flashback to 2012 but can’t help but love it!

Automotive is Everywhere. Similar to my recent experience at Mobile World Congress and CES, the car took center stage at SXSW. NIO unveiled their autonomous consumer vehicle, the EVE, to much fanfare. And every major car company seemed to be hosting a panel and chatting up their various innovation strategies.

Urban Tech Gets Creative. The Spin bike, a new inexpensive take on bike sharing, allows you to leave / lock the bike anywhere and get another one when you need it. They still have some kinks to work out, however, 500 or so bikes flooded Austin during SXSW and showed that Urban Tech and Smart Cities don’t necessarily have to involve government (ie — slow moving and difficult to work with).

Here are two IoT startups that I met with at Sx that caught my attention:

  • Module Housing designs smart, affordable incremental and expandable housing for urbanites. The team out of Carnegie Mellon have taken a cue from the Tiny Home Movement which also saw some great coverage at SXSW. As the movement to focus on quality rather than quantity continues to gain speed, we will see more innovation in construction tech.
  • Skycision is a data platform that analyzes aerial imagery to change the way that agriculture makes decisions. Less so about the drones themselves, these data plays were well represented amongst the startups at SXSW.

Finally… I was super pumped about our packed female founder brunch. Special thank you to the three amazing partners who joined us: Nicole Quinn from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sara Thomas Deshpande from Maven Ventures and Kerry Rupp from True Wealth Ventures. All the founders loved the actionable fundraising advice that they provided.

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