Despite all its hype, South by Southwest Interactive continues to be the nation’s biggest gathering (ahem, party) of entrepreneurs around—the event that sets the startup community’s agenda for the year to come, where trends are identified, brands are launched and tech celebrities are made.
ExitEvent didn’t make the trek to Austin this year, but a bunch of local entrepreneurs and community members did. We asked them to respond to three simple questions about the experience. 
1. What is one big takeaway from this year’s festival? Could be about an industry, trend, company or the conference in general.
2. What was the highlight of the festival for you?
3. Why did you go and what do you think will come from your experience there?
See below for their diverse experiences, and some insights about what they’ll bring back to their businesses and the Triangle in the weeks to come:


James Kotecki, Automated Insights 

  1. The best way to get started is to just start. I heard this advice from a YouTube star and professional comedians Bill Burr and Doug Benson, when asked for their advice about succeeding in their respective professions. It was reinforced in another way by GoogleX’s Astro Teller, who talked about the value of getting a project out into the real world and learning from failure. 
  2. Professional highlight: Moderating an excellent conversation between our CEO Robbie Allen and AP VP & Managing Editor Lou Ferrara during our session “When Robots Write the News, What Will Humans Do?” Personal highlight: meeting actor Jonathan Frakes—Commander Riker himself! 
  3. I went because our CEO was speaking. After experiencing SxSW Interactive for the first time, my goal is to secure our team one or more speaking slots next year.