From Party Crashing To Brand Building: A SxSW Retrospective

I try to practice radical candor. While I’m always game to talk about the tough stuff, I recently realized I don’t share as much about the fun stuff. This month at Hello Alfred, we’re taking the time to share more stories about our team and the people we serve. This is one of them…

Me & Jess going out after finishing our panels at SxSW 2016

SxSW 2014: “We’ve got to figure out a way to sneak into this party”

When my co-founder Jess and I went to SxSW for the first time in 2014, we landed with little organized besides an Airbnb reservation and knowing a few friends were going to be there.

We were able to rustle up a single pass to share between us, sometimes switching places mid-panel so we could both listen to speakers like Lyft’s Logan Green and Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti.

It was the beginning of our adventure into the tech world and we found it all so exciting, trying earnestly to introduce ourselves to every interesting person we could find (no matter their role). And that’s just what we did. We went to every party we were invited to — and if we weren’t invited? Well, we figured out a way. The best parties are the ones you sneak into, right?

SxSW 2016 audience waiting for panel on “Building Influential Tech Brands”

SxSW 2016: “Not only invited, but officially speaking on two panels(!)”

Fast forward a year, and we have official passes at SxSW. I was speaking with the CCO and Chief Digital Officer of Squarespace and Under Armor, respectively, on creating influential tech brands. Jess was speaking with three other founders in the sharing economy on the future of our industry. Needless to say, this SxSW was a little different than years past.

The view from the stage!

There was still excitement in the air (and we were still running around), but this time, it was for very different reasons. We had less of a “we need to meet everyone we can” mentality and adopted a “say hi to at least five of our partners” strategy.

We’ve grown up a lot in the past year, and one of the biggest changes has been a sharper focus across everything we do. From which customers we target, partnerships we pursue, to product decisions, we’ve grown confident in what Hello Alfred does and who we do it for.

Jess and I have always been focused on creating a great brand that people trust implicitly. One of the key takeaways from my SxSW panel was that the brand is one of the most important pieces of business you must build. It’s a more valuable factor than the sum of all the parts of the business. It’s the unsung element that builds loyalty and emotional barriers to entry.

I said this on my panel, but it’s worth repeating here:

A brand is the manifestation of a mission.

A brand should inform all decisions.

And a brand is created by the team that runs it and the people it serves.

I’m so proud of the “People of Hello Alfred,” a dynamic group of artists, innovators, young professionals, retirees, working parents, and everyone in between. They share a collective desire to be modern day to be and support everyday superheroes and help procure a few extra hours each week so our customers can focus on the most important things in their lives.

This is where Hello Alfred focuses its energy: On the people who refuse to accept that there are only 24 hours in a day. Because of them, our brand has become bigger than any customer count or revenue chart. Hello Alfred is a brand that becomes an invaluable sidekick, helping people become the best versions of themselves.

I’m inspired by these wonderful individuals every day, and I’m proud to be helping them with the support of an incredible, talented, focused team. Sure, I will miss the scrappy days of sneaking into SxSW with a shared pass, but hey, everybody and every brand has gotta start somewhere.

— Marcela

CEO & Co-Founder of Hello Alfred

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