Visa is seeking innovative marketing ideas through a startup competition at this month's SXSW conference called the "Everywhere Initiative." Visa is looking to solve three challenges with the competition: reaching millennials, attracting wealthy customers and pushing its Visa Checkout online-payment platform. "We're in such a transformative time that businesses and marketing organizations can't just depend on themselves or their agencies to solve their business problems," said Visa's Shiv Singh.
Six startups at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, won recognition and a $4,000 prize from the SXSW Accelerator program on Sunday. "It's fantastic for us, and what’s most important is the exposure that comes with it," said Connor Dickie of Synbiota, which provides an online platform that helps scientists collaborate. Other winners included Skully Helmets, a maker of tech-enhanced motorcycle helmets, and ThriveOn, which has produced a mental health app.
Former Vice President Al Gore this past weekend criticized the growing wealth gap in the U.S. and argued it has a negative effect on democracy in the form of a Congress beholden to special interests. At the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, Gore also discussed how government and corporate growth plans often define progress in economic terms without considering environmental and social impacts.
This year's South by Southwest Interactive Festival is as much about interactive media and technology as it is about music. Software firm Esri commandeered a unique venue in Austin, Texas, to connect developers, hackers, entrepreneurs and executives with its geographic information systems mapping solutions. "GIS has been used for a long time in natural resources and government ... But commercial companies are starting to use it more and more, for things like: Where's the best place to locate a store? What are the trends in demographics so that we can project where we need to be building and buying land? Even things like, 'Where should we open flu-shot clinics?'" explains Esri Chief Marketing Officer Linda Hecht.
Mobile applications with a social twist can help South by Southwest conference attendees get more out of the event, Jessica Miller-Merrell writes. Group.me is a good way for people to coordinate their plans, EchoEcho offers location-based networking fine-tuned for conference attendees and Tweet-a-Beer helps lubricate the networking process by letting people buy drinks for their Twitter contacts.