SXSW 2017 — Day Two Recap

Day two at SXSW started off with a down pour. I am from Austin, a local, and the weather has been miserable today, but nevertheless, people are out experiencing all the awesome that is happening.

SXSW Accelerator Pitch Competition

PK Mishra — CEO Fingertips Labs — Batch 19 500 Startups

I started off my morning, running in the rain to catch my fellow 500 Startups batchmates, Fingertips Labs, pitching at the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event. If you haven’t heard of the O6, you will! They have awesome hardware device that attaches to your steering wheel to help drivers stay connected without taking their eyes off the road.

They along with 4 other startups pitched in the area of Transportation Technology. The additional startups were:

The winner of the pitch competition will be announced on Sunday (3/12).

Machine Learning: The Art of Explore vs. Exploit

Oscar Celma — Director of Research, Pandora

I would have not attend the Pandora Machine Learning session on my own, but was glad I did! After the Accelerator Pitch session, I tagged along with my friends to learn about how Pandora is using machine learning to develop the playlists you listen to on the radio stations you create.

Oscar Celma, who is the Director of Research at Pandora, oversees a large team of scientists and musicologists that help create algorithms that decide what song you will listen to next. The overview of the session was how to walk the fine line of explore vs exploit. Exploit being music they know you like, or top 40’s hits and explore being new music that you may have never heard of. The key is not to play too many “WTF” songs before you give up on that station but to play enough so it can learn what you like.

Most Creative People in Business!

Diana Budds, Candice Morgan, Moja Mahdara, Leila Janah, Richelieu Dennis

I went over to the Fast Company Grill to grab some lunch and was rewarded with a great discussion on diversity and globalization.

The panelists all did different things and it was really fascinating to listen to. Richelieu Dennis is the owner of Shea Moisture and he stated that 70% of hair products on the market were geared towards people with straight hair but only 20% of people have straight hair.

Candice Morgan works at Pinterest and was discussing how they have created an apprentice program that recruits candidates from under-represented backgrounds to apply for an apprenticeship where they will be partnered with a mentor who will work with them for 15% of their work week. At the end of the program, they will have the opportunity to convert from the program to full-time employees at Pinterest.

Cheryl Strayed & Tim Ferriss

For my last event of the day, I saw a live recording of the Tim Ferriss Show. His guest was Cheryl Strayed who is the author of books such as Wild, Brave Enough and Tiny Beautiful Things.

Though I am not a writer, I thought she made some really interesting points on how to make time for creativity. The biggest takeaway from listening to her speak was around her concept of “binge writing.” It used to be that if you were a “writer” you wrote everyday from the time you wake up till the end of the day.

I think with all the distractions of the world, that is probably hard for anyone to do. Cheryl told the story of meeting a woman in Ohio, who wanted to be a writer but could not find time for it. She worked at 711 and was a single mom to 4 kids. This woman had heard Cheryl speak about the concept of “binge writing” and that if you can just make time for one day a month, that is 12 days a year, and that is a lot of writing. This women met Cheryl and told her how she had her mom take her kids one day and month and she wrote the entire day.

I think a concept like this could apply to any thing you are trying to work on and can be a good mindshift when you are struggling with trying to find time to do it.


That is a wrap for Day 2! Feel free to follow me on Twitter @hijennstarr and just in case you were wondering. Those Adobe Xd socks looked pretty good one me!