CItyflag at SXSW Interactive

By Alberto Altamirano & Alberto Gomez

With over 50,000 people flocking to Austin, SXSW has become a destination unlike any other, where influential people gather in one place to celebrate technology, innovation, film and music.

Friday, March 11th, was a hectic day for us at Cityflag! We participated in the SXSW Interactive Spotlight, presented at the International Accelerator Pitch, and attended a DNC fundraiser for President Barack Obama, where he spoke about civic engagement and technology. Phew, how did we accomplish all that!?

Team Cityflag discussing their civic engagement platform at SXSW Interactive.
Team Cityflag discussing their civic engagement platform at SXSW Interactive.

Well, we are only a team of five so we had to split and cover each event, plus the coffee of course. It was definitely a busy and stressful day, but that’s the life of a startup during a big festival such as SXSW.

One of the greatest opportunities at SXSW Interactive, is that it allows you to meet face to face with dozens of investors, industry leaders, like-minded people, and hundreds of users that provide instant feedback on your product and services.

Being part of SXSW brought us closer to the civic technology industry, which is an invaluable experience that otherwise would have taken us longer to access. Additionally, this opportunity gave us great insight into the challenges and opportunities we face as a startup. Furthermore, it allowed us to get real time feedback from all of our stakeholders, which we immediately put to use in order to improve our strategies as a civic engagement platform.

Cityflag Co-Founder Alberto Altamarino pitches his civic platform at SXSW's Interactive Spotlight.
Cityflag Co-Founder Alberto Altamarino pitches his civic platform at SXSW’s Interactive Spotlight.

The timing of our participation in the 30th edition of SXSW could not have been better! One of the main topics of this year conference was civic technology: how can we use technology to improve existing government services and open new channels for citizen engagement at the local, state and national level. This conversation was spearheaded by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who called on the tech industry to help solve the nation’s biggest problems by working in conjunction with the government. “It’s not enough to focus on the cool, next big thing,” Obama said, “It’s harnessing the cool, next big thing to help people in this country.”

On the final day of the SXSW Interactive, we participated as panelists at Casa México at SXSW, which aims to display Mexico’s status as a global leader in technology, entrepreneurship and innovation. We had a great time talking to Mexican civic leaders about our plans to introduce our mobile application in Mexico! We connected and received great feedback from Mexican industry leaders who are innovating the public sector.

Soft-launching our beta application at SXSW was a unique experience, although we had a successful week, we also faced many challenges such as coordinating all efforts and making sure we had a consistent message with a functioning product. Overall, we strongly recommend early stage startups or established startups to get involved at SXSW, because there is a great sense of community at this festival.  It’s a way to grow your network and the ideas that drive your innovation.  SXSW brings influential people together in one place at one time. That many like-minded people in one place yields huge opportunities even for a young start-up like Cityflag.

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