An Insider's Guide to Surviving South by SouthEast - 1

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An Insider's Guide to Surviving South by SouthEast - 1
Yeah, look, I know. I get it. Startup-related events are a drag on minding the store. And there's no way to hide or put sugar on the fact that this week is super-loaded with a perfect storm of events. I can tell you this -- it's imperative that you manage any gains you'll get out of these events against the losses in time and productivity towards building your company.

A few weeks ago, I called this week South by SouthEast, and there really is an opportunity here to inch Raleigh and Durham a little bit further on the map of startup hub relevance. But the argument will remain -- Should you go to any or all of these events and will it annihilate your progress?

I don't know. I'm not you. But here's how I'm doing it:


Get up early. I've been up since 4:30. And if you're just rolling out of bed now and reading this, stop what you're doing, tweet this article so I get props, and then get to work. Put everything you have into your business today, because you need to wrap it up by 5:30 p.m. to get over to Neu Concepts in downtown Durham to make the ExitEvent Startup Social to mingle with over 100 verified entrepreneurs and investors.

If you're only going to hit one event this week, I applaud your diligence and I humbly and selfishly suggest that the one event be this one. HOWEVER, the Social, as everyone should know by now, is for verified entrepreneurs and investors only, and you'll need an invite. If you're not one of these, and don't already have one of those, there are plenty more opportunities for you to network this week.


Get up early. I'm getting up at 4:30 again but mostly because I have to be up in order to get every single Yahoo Fantasy Football player their amazing and incredible matchup recap. I'll be working my ass off until 12:30, and then heading to downtown Raleigh for Startup Summit, which runs from 1:00 until 7:00.

How to Work During a Conference

I shouldn't need to tell you this, but there are two rules for attending a conference and getting the job done.

1) Plan ahead. I've got calls and meetings scheduled for the networking breaks in-between sessions. I'm also not attending every single panel or presentation because I have to get work done, so I've already mapped out which ones I'll be at. I will have my laptop, my phone, and chargers for each.

2) Don't half-ass it. If you're attending a panel or presentation, pay attention and put the phone/laptop away. You're just going to be rude and sloppy at the same time. If you are networking, network. Figure out who you want to talk to and find them.

The agenda is here. Use it now, not then. Look for presenting ExitEvent member companies ArchiveSocial, BoostSuite, Buystand, Gema Touch, Truxie, WedPics, and Windsor Circle (see the bottom of the article for links), as well as Automated Insights' founder Robbie Allen.

Tuesday Night

The reception for Startup Summit should be an opportunity to meet a lot of people, including speakers and presenters. This is don't miss, but make sure you've caught yourself up. Arrive late if you have to, and go easy on the drinks -- just because it's free doesn't mean you need to blow it out. You're going to need to get up early tomorrow.


Startup Summit reconvenes at 8:00, and by that point you should have already gotten two to three hours of work done, some of which you've done at the Convention Center which wisely allowed you to avoid rush-hour traffic.

Internet Summit

Startup Summit rolls right into Internet Summit at 1:30 on Wednesday, with a very good keynote panel. Again, the agenda is here and you should have a plan.

The Party

OK, here's where it gets tricky. I'm not your mom, so make your own decisions. The reception is at the Convention Center at 6:00, and it should be a cocktail hour type vibe with plenty of time to network.

After Party

This is off-site at Spy Raleigh at 8:00. It's open to anyone, and it's a party, so if you've earned it, by all means.

After After Party

I can't help you with this. Nothing good comes of these and they're usually the best part of the conference.


Go ahead and sleep in until 5:00 a.m., because by this time your body should be feeling like a dumpster fire. I never, ever do the networking breakfast but I never eat breakfast, even though it's the most important meal. That's how contrarian I am.

The Internet Summit is in full swing today, and if there's one panel you must make, it's the Internet Entrepreneurship panel. Why? I'm moderating it. It's at 4:20, so I don't care what you do in the meantime. If you want to take a nap, you have my blessing. This panel will be worth at least 8-12 hours of your work time.

IS Rocks

At 6:45 p.m. or thereabouts, the Connells go up at Lincoln Theatre, one of three venues that will play host to IS Rocks, a music festival that runs late into Thursday night/Friday morning.

Again, there isn't much you're going to get done at a music festival that features 12 bands, but seriously dude, if you're still upright at this point, you've likely earned it. So have fun.

Friday and the Weekend

Friday should be a 16-hour day. So should Saturday and Sunday. This is not to make up for time lost. This is because you work at a startup. But if you've played your cards right, you could be looking at up to six hours of sleep on Sunday night.