SXSW Interactive Awards and Startups

Despite SXSW three categories, this year again SXSW Interactive almost eclipsed the two other categories – music and film. SXSW Interactive has become the place where venture capitalists and entrepreneurs meet, talk, innovate, and sometimes disrupt the market. Two famous examples remain highly popular. In 2007, Twitter was launched at SXSW Interactive. The conference helped the company gained momentum. We all know the success story that followed. And in 2009, Foursquare was also launched there. Few months later, the company managed to raise 1.35 million in its first round of funding and became the successful company we know. Success stories like this one inspired thousands of entrepreneurs to try their chance at the event. It also defined SXSW as a strategic place for startups. But such popularity also has its down side. Today, people are wondering if SXSW did not become too big? Indeed, the conference now attracts more than 30,000 entrepreneurs, investors and tech onlookers from around the world. Particularly well-represented, entrepreneurs come down to SXSW intently looking for the opportunity that would launch their company. In 2013, the total of investment in startup was close to $29 billion over 4,000 companies.

Reuters illustrates well this situation in an article where the journalist gives the example of entrepreneur P.K Fields who “dropped everything and flew 1,400 miles on her own dime to the SXSW Conference in Austin for just 20 minutes alone with angel investor Dave McClure as he was driven around town. Fields is emblematic of the thousands of entrepreneurs who converge on Austin each year, hoping to rub shoulders with venture capitalists and win funding for their companies amid the current startup boom.” It seems obvious that a sort of startup boom happens at the Austin conference. With event such as SXSW Accelerator Competition that gives participants the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, this year included venture capitalist Kurzwei, the festival deserves its reputation as a major meeting point for the tech industry.

SXSW Accelerator Competition became the worlds’ leading indicator of the hottest trends in technology. Last weekend again, it brought together some of the world coolest technologies. More than 50 startups pitched their idea to a panel of judges made of former Apple CEO, John Sculley that now invests in startups as well as other industry visionaries. Hosted by Francisco Dao, founder of 50 Kings the competition awarded winning startups in multiple categories.

  • The Innovative World Technologies Award went to Synbiota of Montreal. Synbiota is a collaborative open web platform that allows people to create materials, food, medicines and fuel using DNS as building blocks.
  • The Entreprise and Big Data Technologies went to Trustev of Cork City, Ireland. Trustev provides real time, online identity verification to eliminate fraud and increase revenues for retailers. The company was also name Europe’s Top Technology Startup by the EU Commission and managed to raise $3.5M from investors.
  • The Social Technologies award went to Samba.me of Tel Aviv, Israel. Samba.me replaces “LOL” with actual reaction shots of people as they see what you’ve shared.
  • The Entertainement and Content Technologies Award went to Waygo of Providence, USA. Waygo lets people scan Chinese with their smartphone cameras to instantly translate it into English without using a data connection.
  • The Wearable Technologies Award went to Skully Helmets. The company is pioneering advanced Augmented Reality technology solutions for the head protection industry. Skully’s technology platform enhances awareness of its users by linking advanced optics to an intelligent network of cameras, sensors, and microprocessors
  • The Health Technologies went to ThriveOn from San Francisco. ThriveOn offers a mental health assessment and suggestions online.

Each winner got a $4,000 check AND a better chance to become SXSW 2014 next success story.

Another very well-known competition is SXSW Interactive Awards which grants the coolest projects “that push the boundaries of what’s possible in digital content and inspire the next wave of creativity.” Those projects include mobile and tablet apps, platform, games, kiosks/installations, digital campaigns, websites and more. Here are the results in all the different categories:

ACTIVISM
Winner: The Missing Person Pre-Roll

With over 1,600 missing person cold cases in Australia, the Australian Federal Police needed a cost effective way to search for new leads. The Missing Persons Pre-roll turned the unavoidable 5 seconds of a YouTube pre-roll into an engaging, geo-targeted missing person banner.To focus the viewers attention the “Skip” button was modified to show 2 options “Yes, I have” seen the missing person, or “No I haven’t.”. If the user clicked “No, I haven’t” the pre-roll would skip to the video as usual.

AMUSEMENT

Winner: RESIZE THAT SHIT

The idea is that a website should look as good on any one platform as it does on any other. Resize that shit is a game that parodies web design’s current obsession with cross-platform fluidity.

ART
Winner: Pulse of the City

An interactive public art installation that turns pedestrians’ heartbeats into music. Currently installed in five locations in Boston, MA.

BUSINESS
Winner: Work4Rich

Rich Silverstein is apparently not an easy boss to have. The notoriously demanding co-founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco is looking for a new executive assistant, as his current assistant is leaving. If you want to apply for the job you will have to go through the list of prerequisites for the job that quickly  turns out to be a series of ludicrous Web challenges, including transcribing a fast talker’s gibberish and memorizing a set of names in just two seconds. The application will close on Sept. 6. If you get past that step, “Rich will handpick his favorites and invite them to the Google Hangout of the century.”

CLASSIC
Winner: deviantART

DevianART is an online community showcasing various forms of user-made artwork.

COMMUNITY
Winner: Quietest Show on Earth

Nature Valley’s Quietest Show on Earth is an experimental music program designed to create a new generation of advocates for the U.S. national parks. In recent years, the national park system has been crippled by federal funding cuts. Nature Valley wanted to bring this issue to the forefront of young people’s social consciousness by connecting their love for music and nature.

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE
Winner: Make Your Money Matter

Make Your Money Matter educate people about all the good things that come with joining a credit union.

EXPERIMENTAL
Winner: Where is Danny Torrance?

In support of Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s long-awaited sequel to The Shining, this dual screen takes users inside the tortured mind of a now middle-aged Danny Torrance.

FILM/TV
Winner: An Idea Lives On

50 years after the assassination of President Kennedy, his ideas live on in people all over the world. See how he continues to inspire and lead us, and submit a story of your own.

 MOTION GRAPHICS

Winner: The Greatest Action Movie Ever

The idea came from the statistics of childhood obesity in the US where 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese. The startup came up with an idea – to take something kids love, action movies, and get them doing things they usually resist, being physically active and eating right. Without a dollar of paid media… 7,000+ kids took action in just 2 months; 12 million+ views; 20 million+ in earned media; 100 million+ impressions; Billions of calories burned; Disney bought the movie and premiered it on multiple media channels.

MUSIC
Winner: Just A Reflektor

Just a Reflektor is an interactive short film that explore the themes in Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” through two devices simultaneously : the computer and the smartphone/tablet. Filmed in Haiti, the story follows a young woman who travels between her world and our own. To experience the film, visit the page using Google Chrome and your device. Your computer will connect with your mobile device and reflects your actions onto the world of the film using camera vision and other technologies.

PERSONAL
Winner: Pavlov Poke

Sometimes Facebook can be a bit like a timewarp. You open it to take a quick peek and before you know it, the better part of the day is gone by. MIT PhD students Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff decided that they’d like to spend less time with social media and more writing their dissertations, so they came up with Pavlov Poke. As the name implies, it’s a sort of aversion therapy device for weaning off of Facebook that gives you electric shocks if you’ve lingered too long.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Winner: The Little Red Logo that Transformed the Marriage Equality Narrative

The Little Red logo not only made history as the most viral Facebook campaign, but also launched the debate over the rights of loving, committed same-sex couples into the living rooms of Americans who previously felt untouched by the issue

STUDENT
Winner: Heart of the High Country

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Winner: Remote Control Tourist

Remote Control Tourist is an innovative interactive campaign allowing people anywhere in the world to control real-life tourists on the streets of Melbourne. For the first time, potential tourists will be able to virtually explore the city before they visit. Remote Control Tourist combines powerful live mobile streaming video technology, social media and bespoke maps, allowing people to control the Tourists through Facebook and Twitter. Remote Control Tourist will create the ultimate city guide for anyone wanting to visit Melbourne.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE
Winner: deviantART

DevianART is an online community showcasing various forms of user-made artwork.

BREAKOUT DIGITAL TREND
Winner: Online Privacy and Security, presented to the ACLU

DIGITAL CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR

Winner: The Little Red Logo that Transformed the Marriage Equality Narrative

BEST OF SHOW
Winner: The Little Red Logo that Transformed the Marriage Equality Narrative

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