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It’s that time of year again, It’s SXSW time. The Interactive track (the one we’re most excited about) “is a true incubator of cutting-edge technologies and creativity – it’s the place to preview the technology of tomorrow today”. Five full days of panel sessions led by the brightest minds in technology that will bring together thousands of tech entrepreneurs, aficionados, influencers and marketers. And why not, 5 days of partying (and networking of course) in Austin never did anyone any harm.

Here below our top 4 sessions to attend (in no particular order):

The Startup Struggle Is Real, Saturday, March 12 at 9:30AM, @ Hilton Austin Downtown

For nearly a decade, Techstars has helped hundreds of startups navigate the grueling, gritty and arduous process of starting a business. And yet there are common pitfalls that still exist today that are derailing the most promising companies. In this session, three Techstars Managing Directors and a Program Graduate will walk attendees through how to fix common flops to avoid the ultimate failure.

Erika Trautman, FOUNDER/CEO, Rapt Media

Jenny Fielding, MANAGING DIR, Techstars

Semyon Dukach, MANAGING DIR, Techstars

Troy Henikoff, TECHSTARS/MANAGING DIR, Techstars

Hashtags: #sxsw

PS: The topic is very close to us at The Sandpit as we are on a mission of de-risking startups and reversing the early stage failure rate, that according to a CB Insights study is around 90% only after 3 years.

Building Influential Tech Brands, Saturday, March 12 at 12:30PM @ Hilton Austin Downtown

Every day a new start up launches or a new platform is developed. But not all of them succeed, despite the brilliance behind the idea. What fails them is the ability to take that platform or product to market – to monetize it, to get traction amongst the intended community, to grow and develop the market for it beyond the initial niche audience and how to brand it and build and nurture that brand. Led by a leading advertising agency known for creating influential work on behalf of the brands they work with, this session will discuss the importance of influence for the longevity of a company and how to build an influential brand in the tech space.

Chet Gulland, HEAD OF STRATEGY, Droga5

David Lee, CCO, Squarespace Inc

Marcela Sapone, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, Hello Alfred

Robin Thurston, CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER, Under Armour

Hashtags: #sxsw #techbrands

Virtual Reality and the New Sales Experience, Saturday, March 12 at 11:00AM, @ Sheraton Austin

The next store you enter may be in your head…or on your head. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) systems could revolutionize how marketers interact with consumers and how shoppers experience products. Our panel of pioneering marketers will discuss how they and their customers are exploring virtual space. Is this the dawn of “Retail Everywhere”? Will consumers strap on your store to walk the aisles virtually or shop with friends who are thousands of miles apart? Are VR test drives in the car showroom (or in your living room?) going to make for more informed purchases? Will AR make live shopping as data-rich as online browsing?

Eric Oliver, DIR/DIGITAL MKTG, The North Face

Stephanie Llamas, DIR OF RESEARCH & INSIGHTS, SuperData Research

Torsten Wingenter, HEAD OF DIGITAL INNOVATIONS, Lufthansa German Airlines


Hashtags: #sxsw

Innovative Brands Using Data-Driven Marketing, Friday, March 11 at 3:30PM @ Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater

From personalized product recommendations and mobile POS systems to virtual fitting rooms and iBeacon geotargeting to cut down on lines, brands know that they need to take it to the next level to impress and retain customers. However, all of these advances wouldn’t be possible or impactful without big data. Customers have been giving companies access to their data for years, and now they’re expecting a more dstarsirect, personalized relationship with the brands they love. In this session, learn how marketing rock at some of the most innovative brands are using data to better understand their customers, power predictive analytics, deliver top-notch customer experiences and drive ROI.

Gail Horwood, VP, WW DIGITAL STRATEGY , Johnson & Johnson

Jen Drexler, EVP, Now What


Ryan Brockington, Theory / Helmut Lang

Hashtags: #sxsw

A few more that we believe are worth it your time in Austin:

Newsopalypse: Can Digital Really Sustain Media?, Friday, March 11 at 2:00PM

Here Are The Keys to Your New Innovation Playbook, Saturday, March 12 at 9:30AM

Winning Over China’s Wired Women, Sunday, March 15 12:30PM

The Sandpit Team

Author The Sandpit Team

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