Last month, Spartan Innovations led a robust contingent of MSU staff and student startups to SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas. For the last 5+ years, staff from Spartan Innovations have made the pilgrimage to the dynamic festival/conference that regularly draws over 75,000 attendees each year. MSU students have made a tradition out of driving the MSU Startup Bus to SXSW, a renovated school bus now adorned in Spartan Green & White and logos of companies that are sponsoring student entrepreneurship, to compete in the national finals for the Student Startup Madness competition. However, this was the first year Spartan Innovations took the MSU Startup Bus with the intent to park it inside the Convention Center for the SXSW Interactive Trade Show. It proved to be a wonderful experience!
For four days, eight different student startup teams from MSU took turns standing by the bus and pitching their new startups to attendees at the tradeshow. The MSU Startup was hard to miss, so it proved invaluable in attracting attention and bringing pedestrian traffic to our students. The experience allowed the students an opportunity to practice their pitch, gain insightful feedback about their business ideas, and make invaluable connections with entrepreneurs, investors, and MSU alumni from across the country.
The bus also served as a primary hub for interacting with MSU alumni and friends who were in town for the conference. Our staff met quite a few Spartans who were overjoyed to see a giant green and white bus with the Spartan helmet inside the convention center. Every alumnus we met at SXSW received an alumni gift from us, which featured organic tea and honey from Land Grant Goods – a student-led startup comprised of MSU students making products with ingredients grown right on campus in the Brody neighborhood!
Our trip to SXSW also allowed our group of students and staff an opportunity to meet with the Austin Spartans alumni club as well as a group of alumni donors and supporters. Alumni really enjoyed the chance to meet our students and learn more about MSU’s growing entrepreneurship ecosystem. Hearing our students talk about their ventures with accomplished alumni and friends of the University was fantastic. As you can imagine, Spartan Innovations is already looking forward to SXSW 2018!