To say that the 2017 SXSW Festival was a blast would be an understatement.
At SXSW, I witnessed the simultaneous celebration of innovation, technology, film, music, and entrepreneurship with thousands of people from all over the world. Not surprisingly, reflecting on the past six days has been challenging, given the overwhelming number and depth of personal takeaways and experiences we were fortunate and privileged enough to have as Health for America at MedStar Health fellows.
For me personally, one of the highlights of SXSW was having access to “houses”—interactive exhibitions that showcased an organization’s latest products, initiatives, and developments. I checked out houses sponsored by Dell, IBM, and WeDC, where I got to interact with robots, startup founders, artificial intelligence software, and virtual reality simulations, just to name a few highlights.
The Trade Show was another engaging space where SXSW attendees could network and learn more about Fortune 500 companies and startups from the United States, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Brazil. We received much of our free SXSW swag there, ranging from Amazon gift cards and social impact branded t-shirts to personalized journals and mindfulness app coupons.
Last but certainly not least was the festival’s film and music track. Our secondary member access enabled us to attend world premiere screenings, music performances, comedy shows, and Q&As with keynote speakers. I attended featured pop artist Kesha’s Q&A about mental health and social media bullying, as well as billionaire entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” celebrity Mark Cuban’s talk covering the impact of H1B visa immigration reform on tech communities and government regulations on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Suffice it to say, SXSW was an intellectually invigorating experience that refueled my entrepreneurial creativity and optimism, which I’m excited to tap into as we exit the ideation phase and enter the implementation phase of our fellowship.