Galapagos Vacation: Fun, But Low Bang For Your Buck

Made a friend at the “visitor center” lol love that logo #galapagos

A photo posted by Corey Breier (@itscoreyb) on


Just got back from a  week in the Galapagos, and I can’t say that I can recommend it as a destination. It’s regarded as one of those places you must visit before you die, for it’s ecological variety and historical importance as the location where Darwin formulated his theory of evolution. One has happy visions of  island-hopping and encountering endless marine iguanas, giant tortoises, and other exotic animals. But the reality is a bit more mundane.

No Wild Tortoises, and Immobile Iguanas

Humans did their human thing and introduced nasty animals to a pristine island ecosystem, so there are very few giant tortoises left in the wild. You’re guaranteed to see them at a breeding center, but that’s basically a zoo full of only tortoises. There’s hope, since we can breed them in captivity, but they live more than 150 years so it will take a few generations before you can find them ranging the wild hills.

What you will see is a lot of marine iguanas and sea lions. Sea lions are nothing special since you can find them around the world, but it is fun to see them doing their playful thing nearly everywhere. Marine iguanas (and their larger, orange land based cousins) are  found all over the beaches, but as it turns out, they aren’t much fun. All they do is lie on rocks in immobile packs, and sometimes spit excess salt from their nostrils. The most exciting aspect was when they went swimming or came back to shore. They lazily swim using their tail as a propeller, and stoically get washed in or out by pulsing waves, only to grab purchase of the rocks with their claws when they can and nonchalantly swagger in to find a rock to sit on.

These animals, coupled with a few weird looking finches and a desolate volcanic landscape, are exciting for 2 or 3 days. But then it all becomes repeats. You see the same fishes snorkeling, the same iguanas hiking, and the same landscape on all of the islands. We were there for 6 days on a boat cruise, and I felt that it was twice as long as it needed to be (yachts are glorified houseboats, and you end up spending more time on them than on land).

Just Another Tropical Destination

Stripped of ecological novelty and wild tortoise, the Galapagos becomes just another tropical vacation destination, good for warm waters, weird fauna, and endless sun. Except it fares quite poorly as a tropical vacation, given that the water is rather chilly, the island is very remote, and there’s not much in the way of local culture. There’s only two towns of any significance, and they don’t have much to offer beyond a few touristy restaurants. You could do far better in a tropical destination where the islands are closer together, there’s more local culture, and legitimately warms waters (with reef diving! There’s no reef here).

Fort Lauderdale and Miami

This Breier vacation included layover nights in Houston, Quito, and Ft Lauderdale, oddly enough. We were stranded in Houston after missing a flight due to delays, and there’s really nothing to say about Houston. We didn’t even get to explore Quito given the flight layout, and the fact that a nearby volcano had erupted and there were some demonstrators rioting in the streets, apparently. Most of our time there was in the airport.

Ft Lauderdale was the most worthy stop, surprisingly. It’s part of metropolitan Miami, which I’ve never been to, and it had all the elements of a tropical destination I mentioned above, minus animals. The water there is crazy warm – almost too warm! No wonder it’s the default US spring break destination – miles on miles of high rise hotels sit next to the pristine beach, which a promenade dotted with restaurants, ice cream, and jet ski rentals in between. The people watching was almost better than the infamous Venice Beach in LA, which is saying something.

Plus you get Miami’s Latin flavor, which means there’s a lot of Spanish on the streets and in the features of the locals. I popped down to Miami proper for a few hours just to see the infamous South Beach in the flesh (typical overpriced tourist party spot, think Ibiza), drive around downtown (crazy huge skyscrapers amongst canal-like waterways), and poke around the Wynwood district (artsy, gorgeous beautiful murals and art galleries for blocks on blocks on blocks). Definitely want to come back and explore more.

Portland Redux and World Domination Summit 2015

This was my second year ‘unconferencing’ Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. – where I show up without a ticket and hang out outside the venues talking with attendees. I meant to buy a ticket this time, but the event sells out within hours of ticket release, so I missed my chance. So I did the same thing as last time and showed up anyway without a ticket. Monet, it wasn’t on purpose this time, I swear!

I’ve long held that the true value of a conference lies in the networking, not in the talks, and given that this event took place in a small ballroom with many breaks and meetups outside, it was very easy for me to get a lot out of the weekend without feeling like I missed out. Many of the talks are up on the web afterwards anyways.

Whereas last year’s WDS was a wondrous introduction into the world of online entrepreneurs and lifestyle businesses, this year’s event left me a little jaded. It seemed like most attendees were people who were considering taking a leap into the unconventional and starting a business, rather than people who had already taken that leap. It’s a great event for encouraging normal people to start living off the beaten path, but no longer a good event for connecting with others who are already treading that path.

Either there were more hustlers last time, or I’ve just been around the block more since then. I found myself connecting with very few impact entrepreneurs, and more ‘wantrepreneurs’, life coaches, and at best, lifestyle entrepreneurs. Nothing wrong with those people, but I felt like I could get more networking done in a normal weekend in SF. Maybe that’s just my interests – judging from the Twittersphere, there was just as much tears and life changing this year as every WDS. (And Chris does put on a stellar event, so don’t get me wrong.)

I doubt I’ll return next year though. I’d recommend this event to anyone who needs that extra push to get into freelancing, lifestyle businesses, or coaching. If you don’t need that push, there are probably better networking events out there for you.

That said, I did have a great time, met a few cool people, and had a few nifty experiences. Here’s a few:

Portland Redux

Every stop on the Portland light rail is sponsored by a local business. “Now approaching Pioneer Square, sponsored by Chase Bank.” Clever way to get extra money for public transport!

Portland’s Ground Kontrol video arcade bar has a game called Killer Queen that accommodates 5 players against 5, for a total of 10! . Gameplay is a combination of Joust and Capture the Flag, with multiples avenues towards victory. It’s a clever, fun, highly engaging game, assuming you can assemble a team that knows what they’re doing. Plus you have to walk around the bar recruiting players – great excuse to talk to strangers!

I crashed the first night with a friend cycling down the coast who is staying with the founders of Beeminder, an acclaimed personal accountability SaaS product that only costs money if you fail to meet your self-imposed goals. The founders are a husband and wife duo who are so rational that they pay each other to do household chores, from driving the kids around to doing the dishes.

I loved seeing how this rationalist dynamic translated to a family atmosphere – their kids are named Faire (after fairness) and Cantor (after the mathematician), they have their own assiduously filled out Beeminder profiles, and the house is full of textbooks on math, physics, and psychology. What a fun house, and polite kids!

WDS Notes

Talk from Jonathan Fields on The Art of Becoming Known:

  • First ask yourself why you wish to become known, what for, and to what audience
  • What will you be able to do once known that you can’t now, and what freedom will you lose in the process?
  • “Adjectives are what you use when you don’t have facts” – Gary Halbert
  • 7 common ways to become known: through intellectual property, a skill, a story, a method, an approach, certain technology, or you in particular
  • Ask others what they think you’re really good at and what they’d thank you for to determine which to pursue
  • 10 elements of positioning yourself: Credentials, Association, Thought piece, Public speaking, a content engine, Authorship, Leadership of a tribe, Endorsements, or mind-blowing memories

Art of Storytelling from YesYesMarsha

  • Always touch upon what the situation looked like, and how it made you feel
  • Tell stories like you’re talking to a mate at the bar, not like you’re writing it down
  • Never introduce story aspects that aren’t relevant (Chekhov’s gun)
  • Tell stories chronologically or they will be confused

People Skills for Business with Vanessa Van Edwards

  • “A 1% increase in customer service yields a 2% increase in revenue”
  • Hands are key in first impressions – keep them visible and open
  • Top TED talks have twice as many hand gestures as the bottom ones
  • Making mistakes makes you likable, don’t be too perfect
  • Charisma, credibility, and intelligence are what create interpersonal expressions

Random WDS people and learnings:

  • Byron, who lives comfortably out of a 1991 Toyota Previa minivan, while running an eBay arbitrage business
  • Rick, a gay man stuck in a ‘mixed orientation marriage’ until 38, until he embraced his gay side and become a ‘coming out coach’, now transitioning to a ‘finding yourself coach’ (confronting who you really are is a problem we all have!)
  • John, a polyamorous lover who has a wife and children at home, but two other girlfriends (and their pictures on his desk at work) who also have their own husbands. Somehow they make it all work without jealousy. Apparently morethantwo.com and solopoly.com helped
  • Experience Institute – alternative to an MBA that stresses apprenticeship
  • Singularityweblog.com – premier trans-humanist blog and podcast, with super comprehensive interviews
  • Ryno single wheel motorcycle that feels like flying
  • Book: Essentialism by Greg Macgeowan
  • Book: The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Living The Courage Vibe documentary about nomadic living as a family

Takeaways from HustleCon 2015

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HustleCon 2015 was this week, and it has certainly come a long way since last year. The event has always been a fantastic place to find my favorite type of people (hustlers), but it has graduated from an amateur, “cold email founders to get speakers” type deal to a full blown TED level event that people fly internationally to attend. This might be the best conference bang for your buck of any event I’ve been to. It’s great both for hearing actionable advice, and for stories of tremendous hustle by founders facing incredible odds.

Here’s my takeaways (notes are not comprehensive, just what stuck out for me):

Tim Chen of Nerdwallet:

  • Company started as an Excel spreadsheet of credit card rates, then realized how many of his friends were asking for it and so turned it into something real
  • Finance advice is a great niche, since all your customers have intent to buy
  • Realized paid channels were too expensive, because you are at an auction for consumer attention with big budget competitors
  • Decided SEO was best acquisition channel so focused exclusively on that(quality links, quality content), even putting aside product development
  • “A founder’s most limited resources is time – you have to learn to let the less-important things burn around you.”
  • Extracted himself from the process, better to hire the most talented people and help them build than doing itself
  • “When you’re small, you’re in a knife fight, do anything you can to win. Once you’re bigger, hire the best people you can and stay out of their way.”

Jack Smith of Vungle and Shyp:

  • What is important when hustling is knowing the rules of the game you are playing. Find those, and break whichever ones you can
  • This is easier to do on less established platforms, like Linkedin used to be
  • He found that you can target people at specific companies with LI advertising, so targeted 7 people – the CEO he wanted to talk to and 6 randoms
  • Used a URL shortener to approve the ad, then changed where the URL went afterwards
  • Always ask yourself what the risks are – here it was getting banned, so made a fake account.
  • Usually your end goal is getting someone’s attention, rather than whatever they told you to do (like apply online)

 Walker Williams of Teespring:

  • Growth is more important than user ROI in the beginning
  • Astroturfing” filling your site with content when nobody is on it so first users aren’t scared away
  • Even now, he spends hours every day reading tweets and FB groups about Teespring, to keep ear on the ground
  • Your biggest champions will come from formerly disgruntled users
  • “Hill climbing” – let users pull you towards their toughest needs, then you build product for that
  • “There was a period of time when we all slept with our phones under our pillows, and woke up to restart the database when it crashed in the middle of the night in response to user calls”
  • It’s okay to pivot, but never give up a single lesson you learned that got you traffic

Tim Westergren of Pandora:

  • Was a PoliSci major at Stanford because it was their shortest major, but then couldn’t get a job so was male nanny, playing piano in the morning and playing with kids at night (not a bad life)
  • Then was a film composer – would play his favorite CDs to film directors and see which songs stuck in their head.
  • Finally got around to Pandora, had to defer employee’s salaries for 2 years because didn’t have money at first, ended up owing them 3 million dollars around the first dotcom bust
  • Kept workers working with the pitch “This could change the culture of the world through music, how many times in your life will you have a chance like that?”
  • Finally raised a 9 mil Series B, paid 3 of it immediately to workers in cash, says “It would have been Mexico for me for sure if that didn’t work out”
  • Loves Pandora because it can keep you connected to the music you love – otherwise as you get older radio music gets disconnected from you
  • The Music Genome Project is blind to popularity, it’s a perfect democracy. “There are 12,000 artists with songs named after them in Pandora who have never been played on a real radio station.”
  • Hires and Fires off of the Pandora Principles, says that’s the only thing you can do to control a company’s destiny

Heidi Zak of ThirdLove

  • When hiring PR reps, contact the people in their portfolio and ask them how they were, don’t ask the firm directly
  • Seed your project with passionate users (like Glamour magazine editors) then they become champions
  • Reporters love statistics
  • Make sure you are ready for the big features – she got featured in Good Morning America before product was live and lost potential users because of it

Arram Sabeti of ZeroCater 

  • Was an office manager for Dropbox for a while, helped him notice what the biggest problems for companies were, and No1 was feeding employees
  • “Do the shitty stuff on the bottom of the totem pole and I guarantee you will find a big problem to solve”
  • 25% of startups lose their cofounders, and this is actually a huge driver of them failing, which is why YCombinator focuses on relationships so much
  • Company was spreadsheet at first as well, was just all the restaurants he used consistently

James Beshara of Tilt

  •  Asked himself what crowdfunding would look like in a mobile world, what kind of funding would live on – that’s Tilt.
  • “All you need to build something significant is trust and a network”
  • Talked to Bill Babel at a conference once long ago instead of Gary Vaynerchuk, he ended up being one of the biggest investors. You don’t always have to go for the big guys.
  • Incubators speed up the network part of things, helped him especially as a nobody from Texas
  • The 2nd generation of blogger tools (WordPress) is unrecognizable from the first (Blogger). Thinks same thing will happen with crowdfunding
  • “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 seconds to lose it”

Adam Draper of Boost.VC

  • Spent a year fundraising, asking around 350 people and got denied 315 times. All you need is a few Yeses, always learn from the Nos
  • Test your pitching on friends and family – always.
  • “The worst feeling in the world is a yes that turns into a no – therefore Yeses are ticking time bombs, get people to sign it in writing ASAP”
  • Investors look for lines not dots, so be a line. Start a relationship with investors whenever you can, rather than asking for money off the bat.
  • The best entrepreneurs send monthly email updates to investors to keep things up to date.
  • They invest in Team, Traction, or Hype. Find where you fit.

Nikil and Alejandro from Back to the Roots

  •  They knew their strengths – and it was in demoing retail products, so did that as much as possible
  • Once achieved success in one vertical, started asking themselves “What would X look like if we invented it?” which helped them find new ideas
  • Stick to what you believe in – for them was sustainable, focused on kids, and design led.

Arum Kang of Coffee Meets Bagel

  • Sketched out what an MVP would look like, and hired Odesk people to do it.
  • Must ask careful questions to these people in order to screen quality people – would make instructions purposefully vague so that she could see if they would ask her more questions.
  • For freelancers, pay them through a combo of by project and hourly – hourly and they can leave without warning, by project and they will do a short job of it
  • Give CTOs reasonable equity, right now they are usually short changed.

AJ Forsythe of iCracked

  • Your phone is your control panel for life. If you can get between people and their phones (as iCracked does), you’re in a good place.
  • 42% of the world has smartphones(!)
  • They could be building the world’s last technical workforce, as more things become automated
  • Let bigger companies validate things for you, don’t jump on the next big thing just because.

 Gagan Biyani from Sprig

  • Consumer businesses are democratically chosen by the users – the business can be ugly on the inside as long as the consumers see a good product.
  • The best founders have no ego, and will solely respond to the needs of the market

Workshop: Storytelling for Founders with Andrew Raskin

  • He had a business model in 1998 but nobody invested. Then he rewrote it with a narrative after reading Story by Robert McKee and got investors. Story is everything.
  • Outline: Once upon a day, every day, until, because of that, because of that, because of that, until finally, and now every day. Moral.
  • Ira Glass and David Sedaris both aim for 40 seconds of action then 20 seconds of reflection, which is supposedly the optimal pacing for public radio
  • Moral for founders will always be: this is why the customer is happy he/she relied on me, why I started this company, why people say I am X.
  • Andrew went to find a front end engineer, so hung out in front of Oracle with big signs saying “5k for info leading to the hire of an engineer”
  • Portray the positive future that associating with your company will bring, and the negative one that will result if they do not.
  • Make sure that your story is credible and that it has something you love in it.

Impressions of Amsterdam

 

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I just got back from a week in Amsterdam visiting my brother, who is studying abroad there. (and has an excellent blog documenting his travels!) I almost wasn’t going to write a whole post in favor of throwing a few details in the Weekly Review, but there’s plenty I learned worth sharing. I guess I was biased because most Americans already know Amsterdam from Eurotrips.

A Jovial yet Pragmatic People

From the Uber drivers to the tour guides and all our friends in between, the Dutch are always slightly joking or playfully questioning your statements. It seems to be ingrained in their culture to not takes things so seriously, and make light of any situation. That’s always been a Breier family value as well, so I like it.

You can see this carefree yet grounded thinking reflected in their national history. Our friendly bike tour guide told us that the Dutch way of making a decision is to always look at the economical consequences. Weigh the pros and cons of each option, and take the one that makes the most sense. And if that option happens to misalign with the personal values, then they’ll pragmatically take it anyways, and try to figure out a way to stay true to themselves while keeping everyone happy.

For example, there was an instance long ago when the Dutch king was facing internal and external pressure due to being officially Catholic. So he issued a proclamation which announced that everyone, himself included, was now Protestant. Officially, Protestantism is the legal religion, but behind the scenes, they still tolerated everything. Everyone’s happy!

How did that work? Non-Protestants would worship in hidden churches like the Red Hat, which pretended to manufacture hats in the front but had a huge church in back. Even if somebody reported them, the law was that a church was only a church when there’s people in it, and the police would only make house calls on weekdays. Then they can feasibly say “Yeah, it looks like a church, but there’s no one here”, with zero persecution.

Pretty crazy, but eminently reasonable, no? It’s the Dutch version of ‘looking the other way’, which translates to ‘peering through the fingers’, as if you’re covering your eyes but still seeing. Except that it’s codified into the nation psyche, making the Netherlands a haven for dissenters of all kinds, even up today with the legal drugs and prostitution.  (Speaking of prostitution, The Amsterdam Diaries is a surprisingly well-written collection of anecdotes from a British gentleman who treats his Amsterdam pilgrimages as a refined hobby.

The Dutch World Power

This pragmatic Dutch operation treated them well in the 17th century, when the invention of wind powered sawmills allowed them to built ships faster than anybody else and become a world power in the Dutch Golden Age. Yes, I know, you usually think of Spain or England when talking about colonial powers, but there is a story to this succession. Roughly, it goes like this:

Portugal discovers far-flung colonial opportunities first due to the plentiful forests providing wood for ships, and the nation’s exploratory nature. Then Spain follows, using their greater forests and resources to seize as much from the Portuguese as possible. Then the windy Dutch countryside gets filled with wind powered sawmills, which let them build ships faster than anybody else, and they were able to steal Spain’s thunder. Then comes the Industrial Revolution, which allowed Britain, filled with standardized water-powered sawmill opportunities and a much larger population, to take over the world proper.

Yet there was a time when the sun never set on the Dutch Empire, too – New York was originally named New Amsterdam and many of its names (like Brooklyn), are Anglicized versions of the original Dutch versions (like Breuckelen). How did all my history classes miss that?!

Contemporary Amsterdam

The modern city is a great place to visit, obviously, thanks to the friendly people, vibrant history, pervasive public transit, and unique recreation opportunities. Apparently even the locals are getting tired of how crowded everything is, however – the downtown area is filled with tourists all the time, which makes it difficult for the locals to live their life around them. Unlike other international hubs lik eParis or London, Amsterdam is really quite small. Expansion opportunities for the city are few, since the canals take up a lot of space, and the whole area is watery, which means houses have to be built on top of forty foot poles pounded into the ground.

That’s why everything is so cramped – it has to be, and also people were taxed on the width of their house, which explains all the narrow mansions and preposterously thin stairs. Look at all the houses and notice the hook jutting out from the top roof – its for attaching a rope to in order to haul furniture to the upper floors and through a removable window, since they won’t fit in the stairwell.

Touristically speaking, the family covered most of the bases – a trip out to Volendam’s windmills and clog making factory (super commercial, but interesting to see), a trip to the tulips at Keukenhof (basically a “theme park without rides”, as my father put it), a day trip to Rotterdam, and a canal cruise as well as the aforementioned bike tour.

We also took a walk through the infamous red light district, which was a fascinating look at a ‘vice’ rendered ‘safe’. All the girls have their own clean warm windows, everything is very clean, and the atmosphere is almost calmer than the bustling city center. It’s definitely worth a stop there for any traveler, just for the spectacle if nothing else. (I had missed it on my prior Eurotrip here five years ago because both of my teenage male fellow travelers somehow were not interested!!!)

Everything I Learned from SXSW 2015

Just got back from my all-time favorite event, South by Southwest Interactive. Similar to my 2014 roundup, here’s an attempt to categorize and share all the best stuff I took in:

Biz Stone on Creativity

  •  “If you find yourself laughing in the office while making something, you’re doing something right”
  • We give VC money to philanthropies and write it off as a marketing expense. The future of marketing is charity, if you do it right.

Jack Welch and Gary Vaynerchuk on Being CEOs

  • Work life balance laws are messed up -You can’t impose work-life balance without individual context
  • Does your boss get empowered when you do well? The best bosses have generosity baked into their personality.
  • Jack admits he was a cowardly entrepreneur within GE because he didn’t have to hustle to get paid. He envies the bootstrappers.
  • Fire the bums you hire as fast as possible. Swallow you mistake and get rid of them
  • Self-actualize yourself so you don’t have to actualize your kids
  • Beat your last week, not the competition
  • Self awareness and empathy are the most important traits towards success

Conversation with the Yik Yak Founders

  • Idea for Yik Yak came from Twitter – they wanted to make it without usernames, so that you could be successful as a new user without massive existing followings
  • Gained traction at first through email marketing – they looked up the emails of officers in clubs and campus organizations and manually blasted out emails to them asking to use Yik Yak. Also played off of rivalries “Everyone across town is using it, why aren’t you?”
  • When it hit high schoolers they started bullying each other – so they geofenced every high school in America and made Yik Yak inaccessible(!)
  • Started in Atlanta and spread across US from there, hit Silicon Valley last. Thinks that helped because Stanford kids are tired of new apps
  • Notes that campus news spreads faster on Yik Yak then the campus alert system. EX: school shooting reported nine minutes earlier than official alert
  • Biggest learning: Ship it fast, ship it simple, do it now

Everything Eric Ries has Learned since 2011

  • Lean teachings work for big companies, but it’s difficult, because in most places if you innovate you’ll get fired
  • Tells entrepreneurs: If you hate big companies why are you trying to make one?
  • Company departments may be agile internally but when work gets passed to new department it becomes bureaucratic 
  • Say what you will about the VCs on Sand Hill Road, but they never ask for their money back. If you ask for more, you better have some validated learnings to show from the last round.
  • Book: Stake in The Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership
  • Internally, Toyota doesn’t refer to its car models as ‘Camry’, they literally call it ‘So and so-san’s car’. This convery massive ownership and spurs leaders to work harder 
  • A productive failure is one that lets you do something you couldn’t do before
  • When enough people ask you the same questions and you start knowing the answers, its time to write a new book
  • Fundamental attribution error – people are a product of the system around them. If systems give rise to errors, shame on you for not surrounding yourself with good systems
  • Entrepreneurs only really quit when they run out of money
  • Instead of  deadlines, look at the past and say “What evidence is there that our strategy is taking us closer to our vision?”
  • Three engines of growth: viral, sticky, and paid

Secrets of Fundraising with VCs

  • Don’t let VCs dictate the timing of investment, they can afford to wait way longer than you can
  • A soft 2 to 4 week deadline is best
  • VCs look for founders who are forces of nature, have a headstart, a good team, and network effects. A product, a vision, and a great market.
  • Don’t start asking with a specific number.  Let the market speak first about the price it thinks.
  • One word that describes VC operations: pattern-recognition

Assorted other takeaways:

  • Austin is experiencing a rise in housing prices due to a tech boom – in response, the local government rewrote the zoning laws  to make mixed use high density housing easier to develop. Good on them, SF could take a cue from this.
  • Buy like crazy in down markets, when the market is up everyone wins except the last buyer, and nobody knows who that will be
  • Startup: Squirl.co  – shows you IRL locations from books
  • Techstars loves to tell the story of Sendgrid – they did ten failed startups before settling on email, because they noticed that every other startup they did had trouble with doing email
  • Book: Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld
  • Astro Teller of GoogleX – If you aren’t failing, you could be learning faster. They’re kind of sad when prototypes don’t fail because then they weren’t bold enough.
  • Website: Shipadick.com is a real thing – send a large 28″ cardboard penis to whoever you want
  • Espree Devora, ‘the girl who gets it done’ – LA based hustler who backpacked through Europe interviewing startups, founder of WeareLAtech podcast
  • Paul Foley – founder of Augur and impressively networked hustler (with a suspiciously glowing Wikipedia page, hahaha) who became an entrepreneur after his dream job at Deloitte ended up being terrible.
  • Two awesome local multiplayer games: Push Me Pull You, with two teams of two working to corral a ball using bizarre sports-monsters, and SpeedRunners, a 4 player sidescrolling platformer that has you racing to throw your opponents behind you towards the deadly edge of screen

All in all it was a great Southby, although I do think the speakers weren’t quite as impressive as last year. The best Southby attendee continues to be one without a badge – the main value here is in the many intelligent, un-orthodoxically accomplished people who attend the conference, and the best places to speak to them are anywhere but the badge-locked rooms.

Hang out outside, sneak into the meetups, do anything but sit at a talk live tweeting it from your smartphone and you’ll get great mileage. It has definitely become one of those events that’s too big for it’s own good, though – there are other conferences better suited to meet-ups and specific niches than the ‘one size fits all techie’ brand of SXSW.