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SxSW : where ideas go to die…

#SxSW is the mother of long stories around a cozy winter fire. The things I’ll be able to tell my kid later: how Twitter shyly announced itself at the Texan conference, and how foursquare was immediately declared an instant success by the social media savvy crowd in Austin.

On day one, in the Samsung Blogger lounge where I was blogging away, I was approached by at least five different startup brands looking for that little push that is going to turn them into the next Mark Zuckerberg. I gave them a fair share of attention. None of their ideas was particularly interesting. Three of the presenters where horribly bad in trying to explain their concept and a fourth had a breath so bad it would have offended an asthmatic camel. None of these ideas is going to go even remotely anywhere…

It makes me a bit sad: all that work, sleepless nights, energy and money for a project that is doomed to fail from the very beginning. If the concept is shaky, the research crappy, the presentation awful, the funding wishful, and the cash flow nonexistent…. disaster is only  moments away. For every Twitter that got it right, there are literally hundreds that never survive the next 300 days after SxSW.

Wreck your brain: where did the hot-next-next things of last year go? Two years ago? Three years? Do you still remember their names, presentations, concepts? The losers of SxSW do not get media attention, funding, public praise and crowd propelled momentum. The losing concepts crawl back home, most often to suffer a long and miserable silent death, far away from the glitter of a social media circus.

I have a profound, though sad, admiration for the five that presented to me today. Coming to SxSW to roll the dice on your idea, your future, and your dreams requires guts, passion, and a trust bordering on naivety. Presenting at SxSW is like walking down High Street, and meet the enemy at the coral at sunrise. Five bullets on a slide and more testosterone than a bunch of teenagers make or break a dream.

Quarter neither asked nor given. Only the strong survive: that is business Texas style.

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