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Christine Murray
Director, Entrepreneurship and Centurions Leadership
KC Chamber

Rounding up the highlights from SXSW

During SXSW Interactive last week, the tech side of the SX Conference, the Kansas City community descended on Austin, TX. From Greater Kansas City, there was representation from civic leaders, startups, economic development organizations, media, established businesses, nonprofits, etc; all selling the message of why Kansas City is a great place to live and to start and grow a business.

More than 30,000 people attend the interactive session alone, making SXSW an exercise in getting on lists and waiting in lines. One might ask how this type of trip makes an impact on the local Kansas City economy… by having a delegation of Kansas Citians spending three-plus days helping to keep Austin weird and attending events.

Here are a few highlights of the trip to the Lone Star State from the perspective of the KC Chamber.

Kansas City selected as a finalist for the Smart Cities $50 million grant.

Part of the KC contingent at the Smart Cities announcementDuring the trip to SXSW, the U.S. Sectary of Transportation announced the finalists for the “Smart City Challenge”. Kansas City was one of seven finalists, out of 78 municipalities that applied. This challenge sparks an important conversation about how to better integrate data and new technology into a traditional transportation system.  No matter which city wins (and of course it should be KC), it’s obvious that the Internet of Things (IoT) concept has clear momentum in how we live and work.

Kick-off event for the LaunchKC grants

Attendees from the KC delegationDuring SXSW, LaunchKC kicked off the grant process with a networking event in Austin. The 90-day application window for this year’s LaunchKC competition begins Friday, April 1. Applicants will be competing for 10 (ten) $50,000 grants; free office space in the KC innovation space for one year; industry-specific mentor teams; and professional services, i.e., legal, financial, marketing, and more. Last year there were about 500 applicants – 20% more than projected - from across the U.S. and eight nations around the world competing for the 10 grants.

Mayor Sly James crushed his panels

Mayor Sly James' PanelIt’s no secret that Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James is a good presenter and during his SXSW panels he continued to “keep it frosty” with his dynamic style, clear engagement, and obvious understanding of what it means to be a “Smart City” that knows how to utilize data.

Native Kansas Citian Gretchen Rubin was one of the sold-out keynote presenters

Gretchen RubinKansas City startups weren’t the only locals getting attention. Kansas City native Gretchen Rubin was one of the keynotes with her presentation, “5 Counterintuitive Truths about Habits.” Gretchen clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and is also the author of The Happiness Project. Her current book is Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits.

Integrated Roadways competes in the McDonald’s IoT Pitch  – Building Smarter Roads

Integrated Roadways PitchMcDonald’s sponsored pitching competitions for companies operating in the Internet of Things (IoT), on-demand, and retail innovation. The prizes included working with the McDonald’s Business Development teams and the chance to work out of their SF or Chicago offices. Local startup Integrated Roadways gave a stellar presentation and pitch at this competitive event.

Local company PayIt finishes in the Top Three at SXSW

PayItSixty-two startups applied, 11 were selected to pitch – and PayIt was awarded third.

New and strengthened friendships

New-Friendships.jpgAt end of the conference, you realize that attending SXSW is really about learning. Attending panel talks, which run with more tracks then the average person can process, for every hour of every day is an amazing way to soak in information, but in addition, meeting new people establishes a channel for transferring knowledge that lasts far longer than any five-day conference.


Posted: 3/25/2016 11:25:16 AM