SXSnippets: With Jock Jams and Red Bull in tow, RecBob hits the streets
The RecBob team's activities in Austin included (clockwise from top left): a stop at the Warby Parker Citizen's Circus; competition at the Foursquare Block Party; bacon-loaded Bloody Marys; and barbecue at The Salt Lick.
The home stretch – time to take what we've learned the previous three days and fine tune the machine.
10 a.m. - Load up the RV and head downtown. This was our first morning to sleep (eight hours of sleep, more than double what most of us had gotten in the prior two weeks). This morning, we are ourselves – leaving the team uniforms, games and prizes to rest for a few hours while we re-discover what it feels like to wear our own skin again.
10:15 a.m. - Stopped at an Imeet.com event at Texenza Coffee for free coffee and tacos. There is practically free food on every corner at SXSW.
11:30 a.m. - Next stop, Frank (hotdogscoldbeer.com) for Bloody Marys, loaded with bacon. I should mention that we also got a free mimosa here, courtesy of HBO. Being the bacon aficionados that we are, we couldn't turn down tasting the bacon infused Makers Mark, followed by the chocolate covered bacon. Yes, Austin knows how to eat (and drink).
1 p.m. - We walk off the bacon and buzz, trekking to the RV so we can suit up as team RecBob (left). Our trusty wagon carries everything from our portable speaker, kickballs, balloons and our many props. Our first stop is the Warby Parker Citizen's Circus – having seen Neil Blumenthal speak at Big Omaha '11, we didn't want to miss stopping by. And of course while there, we bumped into Jeff Slobotski – truly a man about town.
2 p.m. - Time for Jock Jams. Building a brand is hard work, and our team can tell you first hand that, while stressful, Austin during SXSW is perhaps one of the best testing grounds. Everyone you meet on the street is curious and interested in not only enjoying your brand construction, but also learning about what you do. Our mission was to engage as many people as possible on the street to have fun. We did this by playing Jock Jams and challenging people for prizes: cash, tech gadgets, Red Bull, etc. Our good friend Rob Zazueta from San Francisco stopped by — he was actually at Startup Weekend Iowa City when we formed.
3 p.m. - Startup America and Scott Case. While we were challenging people on the street, Scott Case stopped by and gave us a chance to pitch RecBob for his camera. Like we already knew, fun is contagious, so Scott couldn't resist a turn at the hula hoop and the dodgeball.
3:30 p.m. - Skype. One of the many walking promos we met was from Skype – yep, they had the “Town Crier” walking around, in English character, reading tweets aloud (left).
4 p.m. - FourSquare! Team RecBob brings lots of games, but they definitely put their game faces on at the Foursquare Block Party. While enjoying some music, food, etc., Team RecBob competed against some of the best of the best. Even though some of the crew (@MacyKoch) was disappointed that we missed @Dens, this was a great stop.
6 p.m. - Salt Lick. Team RecBob took a mini-trip to Driftwood, Texas for the world famous Salt Lick BBQ. As we crested the last of many hills southwest of Austin, none of us could believe the number of cars parked outside The Salt Lick. Texas does it big, and this was no exception. In order to bypass the two-hour wait (so we could get back to the city for more SXSW) we ordered it to-go and ate outside in their sprawling patio with live music. Thank God it didn't rain today!
10 p.m. - RecBob says hello to Chicago. Techweek held the Innovation+Chicago party at Copa — what a great bar and setup! Highlighting some of Chicago's startups by giving them each a table throughout the venue really helped us acclimate quickly. We even had chance to chat with Troy Henikoff, making sure he remembers RecBob when he reads those applications for Excelerate Labs. The live music was great, and their hospitality was top-notch – even allowing RecBob himself (left) to join the party and dance! It was great to bump into some people we knew and meet lots of new people.
Overall, SXSW was the perfect event for our team. While I know our experience would have been different if everyone had badges, we leveraged the opportunity in our own way. From the ~ 20 hour RV trip/team building/non-stop fun to our trial and error tactics that made SXSW our lab. We built a special app just for SXSW. We built marketing specific for SXSW. Sure, some of the time spent on this escapade could have been devoted to our summer launch, but the experience was invaluable and it helped us grow really quickly. Were the attendees our target demographic? Some maybe, but we knew going there that most weren't, so we taught ourselves how to find them. Being in Austin during SXSWi was intense and huge, but somehow the intimate feeling of being part of an entrepreneurial community always seemed to be present.
Credits: Photos courtesy of Schnipkoweit.
About the author: John Schnipkoweit is the co-founder and CEO of RecBob, a startup based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that connects the real world with social media to make recreational sports fun.
About SXSnippets: SXSnippets are posts from residents of the Silicon Prairie chronicling 24 hours of their experience at South By Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas.