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SXSW Survivor’s Guide

By Kristoff Forde-Lyons

No — we aren’t a SXSW consultancy. We’re an innovation firm that works with industry leaders to build best-in-class digital experiences. We’ve built this survival guide because our team of SXSW veterans is always looking to lend a hand and make a new friend.

Which brings us here! So your boss sent you to SXSW huh…. Now what? If this is your first rodeo, good luck!!! If you’re a SXSW veteran, you know that it can be overwhelming prioritizing your time to get the most out of North America’s most innovative conference and festival…

No need to worry, TribalScale is here to the rescue 🙂. We’ve compiled a list of essential steps that will help you make the most of your trip and here they are!!! Also, if you have feedback that could help improve our Survivor’s Guide, please do share as your thoughts are very much appreciated. I mean we are ALLLL about collaboration and Innovation… SO, let’s get started!

Step 1: Book your trip ASAP!!! There are 70,000+ attendees, don’t be the person that is stressing out over the fact that, AGAIN, you waited too last minute to book your accommodation and now everything is fully booked.

Here’s a link to the SXSW hotel website. Booking through the SXSW website will save between 35%-50% for customers compared to online travel agencies and direct bookings.

We’ve also included 5 beautiful Airbnb’s for you and your team:

1) 1920’s Farmhouse in Central ATX: I mean is there much more we have to say?

2) Chic Modern Condo Downtown ATX: Sophisticated ambiance and urban charm, this interior was designed by a local designer and it shows.

3) Stay on 6th — Right Beside SXSW: This spacious loft can fit up to 6 guests, enough space for your entire team.

4) Modern Loft at 6th St. A3: Loft in downtown Austin that can hold up to 6 guests.

5) Downtown Suite on 6th & Congress — Perfect location in central Austin. Great nightlife, bars, restaurants, shopping, yoga, outdoor activities, you name it, it’s there.

Step 2: Now you’re in Austin… You might be thinking…. What do I do first 😕? We’re going to make an educated guess that you’ve arrived a little early to get set up and ready for the big event. So, we wanted to help you get off to a good start. There’s a great networking event hosted by BerlinSaloon, where you’ll find a great mix of US and global organizations (plus you’ll also get the chance to meet C-level digital strategist for major German businesses). If you are someone who sees things differently, and believes that you can introduce new processes, services or products to effect positive change in your organization, then you’re definitely going to want to check out the Make Innovation Happen Event! This is particularly close to our hearts at TribalScale, considering that we work with organizations to stay ahead of the innovation curve to build world-class, digital experiences ;)

Step 3: Now that you’ve spent a whole bunch of time making new friends and meeting all these interesting people [and hopefully potential clients 😉] it’s time to grab a bite or a refreshment. Here’s a list of the top 5 places to check out:

1) What’s the South without some BBQ??? Here’s our choice for MEAT BY THE POUND Terry Blacks BBQ. If you have a big group, there are some great deals on shareable platters on their menu, make sure you check them out!!!

2) If BBQ is your thing but the MEAT ain’t, then we’ve got something for YOU!!! I’d like to introduce you to Arlo’s! Arlo’s makes all their food fresh on-site with dedication and LOVE. All sourced locally, Arlo’s menu is 100% plant-based, because plant-based food done right is nothing less than AWESOME!

3) The food truck culture speaks for itself at SXSW and it’s impossible to miss! Let us know which food truck was your favourite 😃.

4) Our last but definitely not least eat to check out is Gourdough’s Public House. If you’re looking for something that’s both savoury and sweet, this is your place. From dessert donuts to burger donuts, this is the spot for CRAZY DELICIOUS EATS! I mean they even have a Ron Burgundy Burger….. MMM 😛

5) SIDE NOTE TO OUR BELOVED CANADIANS 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦: Make sure you check out the Canadian Blast Event. It showcases homegrown Canadian talent, and why we are ranked as a top country when it comes to quality of life (not our words, that’s all USNews according to their recent report Here). This invite also extends to all our international friends, come celebrate with us, EH!

Step 4: So after a great night of food and an even better night’s worth of sleep… SXSW is OFFICIALLY HERE!!! Now, what should you do first?!? We know that each person has different interests and reasons for attending SXSW… So we want to provide you with information on all the coolest events for each industry… Here are the popular 2019 trends that will fulfill whatever it is that brought you to SXSW.

Step 5: You now know the hot-spots for SXSW and it’s time to get your calendar in check and ensure you can make the events and meet the people you came here to see. We recommend using Google Calendar, or whatever you find is the best tool to organize your time. In addition to your calendar, make sure to download the SXSW GO mobile app. It’s a great tool to see which events are going on, and at what time, while also providing live updates on event status (if the room is empty or completely packed), the size of the venue, who favourited which event, and more.

Step 6: Now, you have a list of people you want to meet, you might be thinking ‘where should I be hosting my newfound friends?’ Well, we’re suggesting somewhere that is a bit quiet, a little more intimate, where you can chat, have a coffee, and do whatever works best for you! Here are some places that we believe have some cool aesthetics that will set the tone for your meetings:

1) G’Raj Mahal Cafe Lounge — A nice mix of warehouse chic meets classy, soothing patio…. Don’t know what that means? Neither do we! But you’ll understand when you check out the venue!

2) Hillside Farmacy — A former pharmacy turned into one of the city’s gems. Located in the heart of Austin Hillside and known for its oysters, weekend brunch, and sandwiches.

3) Juniper — Great ambiance, hip, comfortable atmosphere, where you can enjoy delicious cocktails, or try some exotic foods. Whatever you choose, Juniper is a win.

4) Figure8 Coffee Purveyors: Not your traditional coffee shop… Figure8 is an Austin classic and for good reason. Have a coffee, a latte, or even a frappuccino with almond milk, extra whip cream, and caramel drizzle! They got you covered 😉

Step 7: So, ladies and gentlemen we’ve come to the end of our SXSW travel guide. We hope we helped you minimize trip stress and maximize the experience of SXSW! If you are looking for a partner that can help your organization with strategy, research, design, product, and engineering best in class digital solutions, we would love to connect. We’re the innovation partner for organizations including; ABC News,, PGA Tour, CIBC, and iHeartRadio etc. and we would love to hear about your digital aspirations for 2019 and beyond.

P.S. What better way to enjoy Texas than to feast on Brazilian style steaks, seafood, and salads. Join our 4th Annual SXSW Innovators’ Dinner, hosted by us in partnership with Amplitude. Request an invite here to enjoy great food, and even better company.

Kristoff Forde-Lyons is passionate about bridging technology with business to solve real human challenges. When I’m not helping solve customer problems, you can find me writing songs with friends, managing my ADHD by being physically active, dancing all nights to some tribal tech-house beats in some grungy warehouse somewhere in Toronto.

TribalScale is a global innovation firm that helps enterprises adapt and thrive in the digital era. We transform teams and processes, build best-in-class digital products, and create disruptive startups. Learn more about us on our website. Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook!



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