Keeping it real-time at SXSW

 

We have attended our fair range of conferences across the world and in numerous different markets. However, it is safe to say, that South by South West, SXSW or simply South By, was one of the most eclectic and most enjoyable. Upon arriving we were informed that the mantra for the city is ‘keeping Austin weird’ and that sentiment is embodied in the event.

The city is transformed for this highly interactive conference, houses are converted into tech expo events and open houses, cinemas pop up out of nowhere and live music can be heard around every corner.

The conference is split and partially staggered between music, film and technology with our focus being the latter.

In 2016 we won a final place out of 50 from a field of 500 companies to pitch at SXSW. We were competing with four other finalists in the enterprise and data category. The pitch itself was no longer than 2 minutes followed by a 7 minutes Q&A with the judges.

Our pitch went well, we were happy with how the technology was received and the crowd of interested attendees surrounding us at the end of the pitch to find out more.

We focussed the pitch on our new real-time capabilities, our continuous development and language creation tools. We even transcribed our pitch live using our offline, real-time capability, on a phone. It was a dangerous environment to demo in due to the acoustic levels – but one that certainly resonated with the judges.

Unfortunately, we didn’t win the overall competition, losing out to Deep 6 AI who did clinical trials for cancer patients using AI technology – a worthy winner with great technology and a compelling pitch.

Nonetheless, we still thoroughly enjoyed taking part and you can watch our pitch below.

Along with the pitch competition SXSW also organised a demo day for all the competing finalists. This is something that we are accustomed to: standing in a busy room, armed with a laptop, a video and demo and telling people about our technology.

For us this was the highlight of the event. Over the 3-hour session there was not a moment when we didn’t have a queue of people wanting to find out more or try out the real-time offline system on our phones. The Japanese, English and Spanish tester demos proved to be especially popular! Traditionally footfall and exposure is always difficult at these kind of events, but SXSW did a fantastic job of ensuring there was a constant stream of relevant people visiting the exhibits.

The combination of the three conferences meant that there was always something to do at SXSW with a range of exciting attendees and an electric atmosphere. From the likes of tech influencer Robert Scoble to Joe Biden, from Mick Fleetwood to Buzz Aldrin. SXSW gave us the opportunity to meet, watch and engage with a vast range of industry leaders, experts, celebrities and ultimately, potential customers.

Ricardo Herreros-Symons, Speechmatics