2015 V2V Recap: What We Learned at This Year's Event

Written by Hugh Forrest | July 23, 2015
2015 V2V Keynote Damien Patton. Photo by Josh Hawkins

SXSW V2V 2015 came to a resounding close on early Wednesday evening in Las Vegas. After the last speaker got in the last word, after a winner was chosen in the V2Venture pitch competition and after the last of the Closing Cocktail drinks had been consumed, a few big-picture truths remained from this action-packed gathering of some of the world’s most promising startups. Five of the most obvious truths that we learned at SXSW V2V 2015 are as follows:

1) Startups Have Gone Global

Yes, if your startup happens to be located in San Francisco or in San Jose, you probably have a few advantages. But the theme we heard time and time again at this year’s event is that geography has become increasingly irrelevant — irrelevant in terms of both finding capital and finding talent. To this end, more and more entrepreneurial activity is happening in flyover country. And perhaps the notion of flyover country is even too limiting. In his keynote conversation with Brady Forrest on Tuesday, July 21, Dave McClure talked about the many founders he has discovered within Middle Eastern countries. The startup bug is everywhere!

2) Experience Trumps Expertise

In a sense, SXSW V2V serves as summer camp for startups. Yet one of the constant messages over the last few days was that a bulletproof playbook for successful entrepreneurs does not exist. More often than not, the best playbook comes from simply the sum of one’s varied life experiences. Consider for instance the amazing journey of Banjo CEO Damien Patton. In his keynote speech on Monday, July 20, he recounted his trajectory from a homeless teenager to NASCAR pit crew to a student at MIT to a forensic scientist to a serial entrepreneur (with a product that recently received more than $100 million in funding). Patton is absolutely certain that he wouldn’t be enjoying his current startup success if not for this long and winding path of life experiences.

3) Your Network is Your Net Worth

At SXSW V2V 2015, registrants talked and talked and talked. Then they talked some more. In fact, the value of this event is the platform it creates for these enhanced, in-depth connections. Entrepreneurs like extended conversations with other entrepreneurs — and extended network-building conversations occurred morning, noon and night at this year’s event.

4) Entrepreneurs Create Their Own Energy

The startup journey can be long and lonely with plenty of pitfalls. But, few of the founders at SXSW V2V 2015 dwelled for too long on the downsides of this lifestyle. Instead, there was a palpable sense of excitement as these entrepreneurs from all over the world shared their ideas, their dreams, and their successes, while laughing-away their failures as another valuable learning opportunity. Attendees inspired each other with their non-stop energy — and most registrants left the event with even more ambition to positively change the world than they had when they arrived in Las Vegas.

5) Hardware Becoming Next Software

The h-word was a fifth and final take-away we heard over and over in the panel rooms and the hallways of the Bellagio. As Brady Forrest mentioned in the keynote conversation with Dave McClure on Tuesday, July 21, the cost to enter the hardware space is beginning to become much more approachable for bootstrapped startups. True, costs for hardware-focused entrepreneurs are still much higher than for founders who are working on software-based businesses. But the landscape is changing quickly — and in a few years these costs will drop significantly. So look for the emergence of more and more gadgets and devices in the near-term future. Indeed, gadgets and devices will be a big focus of the new TV show Bazillion Dollar Club that Forrest and McClure are involved with.

Want to get in on another incredible gathering of startups, investors and forward-thinking futurists? Then attend the 2016 SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin (and particularly take part in the panels, networking and pitch competitions at Startup Village. The first round of programming for SXSW 2016 will be announced via the SXSW website on Tuesday, July 28 and registration begins at 10:00 am Central Time on Monday, August 3. Buy your badge early for the lowest rates and best hotel options.

Photos by Josh Hawkins