Mini Austin – the write up by Tania Cheema, Futureheads

All was not lost for those who missed this year’s SXSW as Creative Social’s Mini Austin event brought a taste of SXSW Interactive to a London audience. Hosted at the Digitas LBi offices in Shoreditch on 28 April 2015, the evening consisted of interesting talks and a review of SXSW trends and technologies from a selection of key players in the industry.

On my way to the venue, I was looking forward to live-tweeting the event and was particularly excited about our Director Be Kaler being a member of the panel. The Futureheads creative team was also present and had a great time catching up on what they missed from SXSW. If you were unable to attend the event this time round, I have rounded up some great highlights from the evening to fill you in.

The Best Thing About Mini Austin 2015

What I truly liked about the Mini Austin event was the buzzing energy you could feel as soon as you entered the hall. There was a lot of opportunity to socialise and mingle before the stage opened and by the time I came in and settled down, drinks and networking were in full swing! Even though the event ran late due to minor technical glitches – the organisers kept us all entertained with some impromptu juggling. You heard me. Genuine, authentic juggling. It was also particularly amusing to watch sponge balls being thrown at speakers by their peers during their talks on stage. Before you get any funny ideas – it was a ‘no buzzwords or cuss words’ kind of a situation.

Most Interesting Speakers

Though the evening was jam-packed with one great talk after the next, some of the talks highlighted below were my favourites:

From Margins To The Front Page – Libby Powell, On Our Radar

The evening started off with a very inspirational talk by On Our Radar’s CEO Libby Powell (@Libby__Powell ) and her team. I was fascinated with their initiative to train and support citizen reporters from some of the most isolated communities in the world and provide them with a platform for sharing news. If you want to find out more about how their citizen reporting model works, click here.

Libby Powell, CEO, On Our Radar


Mogees | Play The World – Bruno Zamborlin, Mogees

This talk by Bruno Zamborlin (@brunozamborlin), Director at Mogees really got people going. Bruno shared some interesting facts about his novel musical technology, Mogees, which converts the vibrations we make when we touch physical objects into sound.  Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me. But if you’re wondering how this device works – it’s a really fascinating concept.

The Mogees sensor is combined with a mobile app that detects and analyses the acoustic properties of physical objects and augments these to create music. To watch Mogees in action, check out this video or read all about it here

Bruno Zamborlin, Director, Mogees


Neuroplasticity & Tech – Dan Manchen & Felix Morgan, Hey Human

Ever heard of neuroplasticity? I surely hadn’t before I heard Hey Human’s Director of Innovation, Dan Machen (@danmachen) and Innovator, Felix Morgan (@felixjmorgan) speak about it. In their talk, Dan and Felix explained how our nervous systems adapt to external stimuli and how people who grew up watching black and white TV are 5 times more likely to dream in black and white too! Crazy, right? They also shared another interesting fact: people now spend about a day per week on social media! Being a social media junkie, I can easily believe that!

Dan Machen, Director and Felix Morgan, Innovator at Hey Human

The discussion then steered towards digital tech and how excessive amounts of information and continuous multitasking in our daily lives have transformed us into becoming task switchers. Our attention spans are limited and advertisers have to try harder to engage us as we constantly tune in to information we are most interested in and filter out the rest.

The Influence of Influence – Tom Brandhorst & Mike Philips, Holler

Editorial Producer, Tom Brandhorst (@tombrandy) and Senior Planner, Mike Philips (@imjustmike) from Holler began their talk by pop quizzing us on some well-known influencers.  They shared how influencer marketing has now become a big marketing buzzword and why influencers with their high level of influence and a large passionate fan following matter a lot.

Though the vast majority of talks on this subject fixate over predictable areas like product placement and content creation, Tom and Mike tried to explore what the future of influencer marketing might look like, whether there should be stricter regulation and if influencers have a responsibility over the content they push. You can view their presentation here.

Tom Brandhorst, Editoral Producer and Mike Philips, Senior Planner at Holler


Final Thoughts

Even though the event ended without a panel discussion – which had to be moved online due to lack of time (much to my disappointment), I ended up having a great evening. I got to exchange a few words with Bruno Zamborlin on Mogees (who was seated right next to me , yay!) and I generally thought the event programme was well curated.

If you want to catch up on more from Mini Austin and want to see what the conversation was like around the event, just browse through the #MiniAustin hashtag on Twitter or give me a shout at [email protected]. Alternatively you can also follow us on @futurebanter and @FH_Creative for pictures and other resources from the event. If you are interested to know more about what went on at SXSW, read a blog by Be Kaler on Key Takeaways from SXSW 2015.


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