Eleven Characters You Meet at SXSW

by Larry Chiang on December 13, 2009

Larry Chiang forecasts conference dynamics about blogs about entrepreneurship.

If you liked “10 Things They Don’t Teach You at Business School “, “The Art of Changing a Deal“, and How to Work a Twitter Party, Take 2you’ll like his newest submission: “Eleven Characters You Meet at SXSW“.

Before he is done, you’ll have a pocket full of tips, techniques, strategies and ideas that you didn’t glean from your tier one MBA and new contacts that you can Facebook-chat for entrepreneurial mentorship.

By Larry Chiang

SXSW Interactive is a dolled up, gem of a conference for web 2.0ers in the know. Me, I love accurate weather forecasts and getting scouting reports BEFORE getting to a party. Make no mistake, SXSW is a fun soiree where you can get your learn on.

To better help you get a lay of the SXSW land, I character compass 11 types of people you can expect to meet. In the comments, guess which 5 you want to avoid. Winner will get a Duck9 jacket worth $90+.

-1- Business Trip Virgin.

This is not to be confused with SXSW newbie. Business Trip Virgin, will botch the airport park-job, visit with non-conference attendees that live in Austin and forget that conferences make or break careers.

-2- Spray-n-Prey Venture Capitalist

Investment technique is similar to conference selection methodology. Attends New York Fashion Week, TED in Long Beach CA, Media Summit in NY and mixes in a dirty Vegas conference.

They either have an investment thesis his WAVC (Western Assoc Venture Capitalist) buddies will think is genius 10 years from now or they’re just boondoggling.

-3- Repeat Entrepreneur.

Flies in two hours before their panel. Flies back to California three hours after. They’d cut it closer if AUS to SFO had more connections. Austin will buzz and this Repeat Entrepreneur will be spotted (innaccurately) at SXSW parties.

-4- Badgeless.

Flew in from California and still badgeless. How sad. Will mooch hotel floor space that will later turn into squatting for sofa space. Mr. Badgeless goes to parties thinking that popularity boosts shareholder value. It doesn’t. Taking copious notes, pressing palms after sessions, and following-up post SXSW does.


Mark McCormack wrote this bestseller in 1983 and my book is the sequel.


-5- The Blogger.

Slid in on a press pass even though they have 30 readers and 15 RSS subscribers (I HIGHLY RESEMBLE THAT BLOGGER). This does not keep them from wanting equal access the Newsweek tech beat reporter gets. Said blogger is STILL bragging about his ONE techmeme hit back in 2008 when Gabe Rivera’s algorithm had loopholes.

-6- In-a-meeting.

Has a SXSW platinum pass but hasn’t seen one session and is wedged in back-to-back-to-back meetings. Doesn’t leave the Four Seasons except to screen ‘500 Nights of Summer’. Rotates three meeting areas at 98 San Jacinto so they can still be 20 minutes late even though he’s on site.

-7- The Pseudo Staffer.

This person is a volunteer but they oh-so have an agenda. They’re not paid, but pretending to be a full staffer. At SXSW Film, they’re pitching scene treatments and a partial script. At SXSW Music they’re promoting two bands. At SXSW Interactive they’re dabbling in the idea or raising VC money for their start-up.

Di-worse-ify is very similar to Spray-and-Prey.

-8- Last Minute Promoter.

Jumped on Mobissimo.com and booked a last minute ticket. Over ordered Kinko’s supplies in the hopes for a big response. Cutting and Pasting @zappos will get you some brand traction, but joining a parade is easier than starting one at the last minute.

-9- Austin Poser.

This twice a year Austinite is from Palo Alto, California. The other time he’s here for a week plus is ACL. If you’re visiting from NY, it stands for Austin City Limits. This poser wants so much to be a local that he has a local 512 cell, a Yelp profile and co-working space on 6th street.

-10- Watching From Home.

Well @fakeSXSW @sched @UstreamSXSW along with the uStream feed from the #vcSecrets panel might feed your yearning for SXSW nuggets. Reading LA Weekly’s blog might almost as good as being here.

-11- Conference Romeo.

It’s ok to say hi and expand our network outside our bubble. In my case it’s my cubicle + sororities that invite me to speak on FICO and credit. In short, full-on conference hook-ups are a no-no.

Needing a carnal commitment ASAP is weird. Remember, if they’re at a work conference and can be distracted by your hawt ass, how good can they be at work? Rising “hitters” use man-charm up until closing time.

If you do see someone you romantically like, drop them a note and reconnect after a conference.

Hope to see you in Austin. I’ll be on the Twitter so check @larryChiang for updates. Or we can roll old school by text messaging my cellie, 650-283-8008. I keep office hours so you can even call me (don’t call to see if I’ll pickup cuz I will so you better have a question for me :-)


Larry Chiang is the founder of Duck9, which educates college students on how to establish and maintain a FICO score over 750. He has testified before Congress and World Bank on credit.

He is a frequent contributor to Business Week’s blog on “What They Don’t Teach You at Business School“. For fun, Larry blogs, attends tech conferences and hoops it up at Stanford’s Arrillaga  Center for Sports and Recreation. Text or call him during office hours 11:11am or 11:11pm PST +/-111 minutes at 650-283-8008.

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