Every year, people try to figure out the winning app or really cool thing “wins” SXSW.  Companies like Twitter and Foursquare really took off after being initially exposed here.  This year, while there were certainly many apps, I think the real winner is the Global Startup Economy.

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Photo by me on Instagram.

My SXSW 2012 experience started off last Friday at Rackspace Headquarters in San Antonio where I live.  About 8:45 AM that morning, Startup Buses from New York, Silicon Valley, Florida, Mexico and other regions arrived for a half day of programming, fun, pitches, networking and then the bus ride to Austin.

Upon their arrival, the hundreds of young startup entrepreneurs were greeted, cheered and clapped by Rackspace employees, known as Rackers.   Awaiting the entreprenuers was a San Antonio breakfast of delicious egg tacos, fresh salsa, coffee and fresh fruit, all from Page Barteau.

I left Rackspace for about 45 minutes so I could go and bring Avner Warner, the Director of Economic Develop for the City of Tel Aviv, over for a sneak preview of a new future that is unfolding around the world.  Avner flew into San Antonio first, and then we drove up together to Austin. 

Munching on breakfast with the Startup Bus crew, you could hang out with 500 Startups’ Dave McClure and Paul Singh.  Or, you could visit with Robert Scoble and get an idea on how to pitch your story.  You can also have a brief encounter with Guy Kawasaki, who was responsible for much of the initial ecosystem that got Apple going in its early days.   Avner and I left as some of the startups were pitching a panel of judges, including Rackspace Chairman, Graham Weston and some of the original founders of the company, Pat Condon and Dirk Elmendorf

Then it was on to Austin to get our badges and go!  At Jeff Pulver’s Friday night State of NOW kick off party, music startups discovered by Jeff Pulver such as JamStar, were on hand to demo their amazing music application.  

On Saturday, I was invited to attend the International Tech Summit, where tech and economic development people from the City of Austin met with their counterparts who are part of the technology and startup economy from around the world.  

From the Summit, an opportunity arose where CNN wanted to do a story on two international startups who had traveled from afar to be in Austin.  

I got Marc Fischman from HashTag Art and Natasha Shine Zirkel from Rounds on the CNN segment.   Marc told the story of how he and his partner, Gilad Zirkel founded the company in a coffee shop, and then went on to expand their business in Tel Aviv and New York, while Natasha was able to share insights on her venture funded company and their success as a leading application on Facebook.

Sunday was Gospel music and BBQ at Stubbs for a group of Israeli startups, followed by a dinner hosted by the Israeli Government, hosting the 30 startups that made it to Austin to launch, be discovered, and develop new business and financial development opportunties. Also on hand were executives from several media and entertainment companies who are scouting the world for new and compelling technologies and applications.

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Monday I spoke at Jeff Pulver’s #140Conf event, along with Nan Palmero where spoke about taking on big brands and sharing Nan’s story about the unintended beneficial consequences of doing social good.

I also spent time at the SXSW tradeshow, walking the isles to put together this puzzle of exhibitors from the worlds of tech, music and film that is helping to serve and expand this segment of the global economy. 

Part of Monday and Tuesday, I walked the halls of Startup Village at the HIlton, where I went in and out of various conference and meeting rooms to listen in on what entrepreneurs were talking about, the terms of art they used, how they pitched and the counsel they sought from mentors and speakers.

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Tuesday at 1 PM, NewTek had Jeff Pulver and I on a live streamed broadcast from their booth, where we interviewed Government of Israel official, Jennifer Raskas, Carmel Ventures’ Debi Levi and a group of Israeli entrepreneurs who shared their stories about their startups, Israel’s startup economy and their experience in Austin.

My particular vantage point on SXSW was watching the evolution of several Israeli startups I met with and interviewed during my last visit in February.   While Israel certainly has a vibrant startup economy, so do other parts of the world – or other parts of the world are stepping up their game to try to attract startup activities.

From Israel to Chile to Palestine

When I got home, I had a call Skype call scheduled with an entrpreneur from Chile, who wanted to discuss some communications strategies about his startup.

There I was, just back from SXSW, and I am hearing the same sense of vision, passion and desire to make a big dent in the world that saw at SXSW.   Instead of Tel Aviv, New York, or even here in San Antonio, I was connecting with someone from Santiago who, along with his global brethern, was on to what’s next.   I also received an email in regards to an organization that wants to bring me to the Palestinian territories to deliver my Above The Code seminar to a group of their startup entrepreneurs. I hope to be there on my next trip to Israel in June.  Yes, there are geeks doing cool stuff there.

A Universe Where Deepak Chopra and Bob Metcalf Intersect.

There’s always people and personality spotting going on at SXSW.  This year was sort of different and in many ways lead me to the writing of this post.

On Saturday, I had a brief encounter with Deepak Chopra and his family thanks to Jeff Pulver.  On Sunday, I crossed paths with the co-creator of Ethernet, Bob Metcalf.  

Yes, this makes total sense that Deepak and Bob would both be at the same event.  Both have impacted the way the world connects from a state of consciousness that is changing our world before us.

In My Life…

In my lifetime, the last time the world really woke up this way was when the Beatles got us rethinking everything.  

Something very special is happening in our global startup economy.  

The music related startups I am seeing are very much a reflection how how applying “art” and mixing it with code and great user design is fuelling a new segment of the economy and sprouting young minds who know no better than to do this.

Music can be chemistry, can be fuel, can be clean air, can be medicine.  

Being lean and being export oriented means your global market is not gobal in the literal or geographic sense.  The market that is evolving is self selective, self organizing and creating a whole new, and hopefully better world where politics, racial and religeous differences or war don’t exist.  

In the world we are evolving into we’re too busy doing collaborating across the world, helping eachother, having fun, doing cool shit and creating new forms of intellectual and capital weath.

Congrats to the winners.  

Let’s keep disrupting and create this new global song.

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