A couple weeks ago, the MTP team headed out to Austin for the SXSW festival.  This was our third year running, and held a great ProductTank Drinks @ SXSW event, taking over the patio bar of Little Woodrow’s on the popular 6th street downtown.

Once again, the sun (just barely) came out for ProductTank, and we had a great gathering of some of the most interesting and best connected product people from around the world.

A huge shoutout and thanks to Gild for sponsoring the event, meaning we could all enjoy a fantastic lineup of great beers and ciders on a Sunday afternoon.

Among the attendees, we had folks representing great communities of product people from all over the place.  We heard a little about each of them and what they got up to at SXSW:

Alicia Dixon (Mobile Product Manager at The Sheridan Group but also a ProductCamp DC organizer) spoke on the Your Founder is Your Product Manager panel, and shared the following:

We had a full room – to the point where they made a few people wait outside until others left before letting them in. Also, almost the entire session was from audience questions; so they were pretty engaged which made the discussion lively. When we surveyed the room most of the audience was composed of product people as opposed to startup founders or engineers.

Teresa Torres (Product Consultant and Coach, ProductTalk) echoed a lot of our own thoughts about the fringe (the outside events and parties) being more interesting than most of the official sessions themselves:

I spoke on a panel (Your Founder is Your Product Manager), but aside from that, I mostly went to meetups and parties. I was more interested in meeting folks than attending the conference itself. It was a great week and I expect to go again next year. 

Neal Cabage (Founder of ProductCamp LA and author of The Smarter Startup) had the following to say about his SXSW experience:

SXSW is the center of the Internet universe for a week every year. Every famous entrepreneur, blogger, and speaker is there, and often just walking the same lobby or having a drink at the same bar. The Film festival is happening at the same time as Interactive so you’ll also find you’re mingling with a number of film makers and actors.  It’s not only a lot of fun, I particularly like how the event brings together art and technology in a way that reminds me of why I got into technology to begin with.

Despite all of the excitement and activity that is SXSW, I attend primarily for the Startup Village. I’ve had the opportunity to present material from my book the past couple years.   This year I presented on Startup Opportunity Ideation and Evaluation with my book’s co-author, which is basically product strategy for startups.  Aside from my own work, I enjoy seeing all of the innovation and new approaches to solving problems here; its a great way to stimulate one’s product mind and instigate new ideas and realizations.

With the brilliant combination of interesting people, the blend of tech and the arts, and a plethora of fantastic gatherings, sessions and parties (and of course, Texas sun and barbecue!), SXSW is definitely a destination for any product manager.

We’ll be back next year, no doubt.  This time, though, we’d love to make something bigger of it – we’re considering planning a large trip and invite out dozens of fellow product people from the UK and elsewhere to join us on an organised group trip.

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