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SxSW is the world famous multi-dimensional festival held each Spring in Austin, TX. This past March represented its return to it’s in-person format after a two-year absence and it was a robust showing. The organizers reported 230,000 attendees, down from over 400,000 in 2019.

Interviewing CEO Chris Beals

Specifically, SxSW is best known for its music offerings but it also has comedy, art, film, interactive and education (EDU) activities.  The interactive division had 16 tracks including cannabis, start-ups, climate change and CANNABIS!

So how do you frame up what SxSW is?

I have a simple answer. Think of it was the Winter Olympics. I’ve attended a few Winter Olympics and thus the analogy. The ten-day run for SxSW is comparable to the two weeks of the Olympics. The Winter Olympics have 15 sports disciplines. And people come and go, only catching part of SxSW or the Olympics. Here is what I mean. I like cross-country skiing and speed skating, but I don’t care for curling. At SxSW I enjoyed the cannabis track, music, arts and the keynotes, but I didn’t care for the Game Industry track.

The point is, SxSW has something for everyone and realistically you’ll target a few key offerings. And that’ll keep you sane as the overall festival can feel overwhelming. Other similarities are the “houses” at both SxSW and the Olympics. Corporations and countries rent venues that are called houses like SAP House and UK House where you can go chill, typically have a free drink and food, etc. In the cannabis area, Weedmaps hosted a lounge where you could meet its CEO and other executives as well as like-minded cannabis professionals.

Finally, the offsite parties get the last word. Arcadian Capital, a leading venture capital firm in the cannabis space, hosted a top-shelf reception with open bar and it was packed with cannabis fans. Needless to say, there were countless parties across SxSW and I swear some people attended just for the parties. You see the same thing at the Olympics where some people only go to the parties and don’t even attend an event!

Bottom Line

I will repeat the SxSW festival and it’s on my annual events calendar. See you in 2023!