Why I come to SXSW (Unfiltered)

Photos of Raul Colon Web Developer Puerto Rico

Every year during September I have a choice to make that sometimes can have a set of mixed emotions.

That choice is to buy my ticket for SXSW Interactive or hold off. The last two years I have been grateful for the volume of business where the decision can be made without hesitation. I come from Puerto Rico to Austin, Texas to meet up with friends.

When I try look back at the 4 previous experiences at SXSW, I see how I have created solid friendships. Those friendships allow me to come year after year.

On my second visit to South By Southwest, I met a brilliant and intelligent entrepreneur named Nando Caban.

Google + was in its first year run and I was a heavy user of the platform. Nando offered to pick me up at my hotel and take me to Casa De Luz for Lunch. Casa de Luz became one of my favorite vegan restaurants. Nando has become one of my closest friends.

When I set up Limonade, he helped me decide what structure I had to create to deliver my services. Out of the many qualities he has, the most important one is being able to translate what he does to a bigger audience.

So grateful to call this guy my friend. He also happens to be an awesome mentor and one of the most hard working and smartest entrepreneurs I know.

The third year I made it to SXSW, Nando and his wife Rocio, opened up their home to me. Rocio usually cooks me a Vegan meal which I am grateful for on my arrival from a long day of flying. They go out of their way for me to have a comfortable room and all the amenities I am sure no Downtown hotel at $900/night will offer.

But most importantly, they believe in me and support me as much as they can. As I see Nando setting up his latest business, I realize I have so much to learn from him. How he just creates systems to help other business owners and make his business, Ally Digital, a more powerful one.

The friendship of Nando and Rocio priceless. Getting to see them once a year is a real treat.

The same way with some other friends like Steve Garfield and Ewan Spence. I met Steve in Boston at the old Inbound Marketing Summit my friend and business partner Chris Brogan use to run.

Last year I attended a few sessions with Steve and got to know a lot more about him as a person. I had admired his work after spending time with him I really started to value him as an awesome human being and now I know why he is so successful. Last night I got to meet his awesome wife Carol at the Gingerman and quickly realized that being here has a purpose.

The Boston Cowboy

Getting to connect with those people I admire and see as mentors but feeling like they are bit more than just online contacts. The most important thing of coming to a conference like SXSW or Misfit.

I also met up with Ewan who was nice enough to give me tips for SXSW on my guide. He also runs SXSW baby and has a column in Forbes with over a million readers a month.

Ewan is usually one of the funniest and kindest folks you will meet at SXSW. This his 12th interactive festival and just by chatting with him for quite some time I was able to see the reason why he comes back every year. That reason is mine. I also admired how Ewan was able to write his weekly column on Apple while I kept up chatting it up next to him. It shows the focus and discipline of an experienced writer.

They Great Ewan!

Last year I had the chance to meet Josh Murdock who came in for SXSW Edu and got a pass for Interactive. It was really cool to get to meet such a forwarding thinking educator at SXSW Interactive. There are plenty of developers, creatives, and marketing experts at SXSWi. When you see what these educators are creating it really adds a different perspective of what I know as education.

Yesterday I had the chance to meet Thierry Uwilingiyima who attended this year’s SXSW Education. I got to listen to a brilliant young man who is working hard to change the structures of education as we know it.

I had a chance to talk for a few hours with Thierry Uwilingiyima. He is in Austin for #SXSWedu. Great too see that folks like Thierry are remolding education to what is needs to become for the future.

Thierry was a software developer and decided to go back to school to search for the purpose he brings to this world. Thierry left Rwanda as a young boy and immigrated to the U.S. with his family. Now he is a Stanford alumni and is working in the DC area as an educator and also a creator of new systems to support education.

Our chats talking about how humans all over the world have many similar traits and how in this day and age there is such a big disconnection with our sorroundings and everyone’s individual lives.  It was refreshing to see someone who I can talk the same language with. Being he is a developer with such a different background we see the world through the same lens. I can’t wait to see more of what Thierry is doing.

Finally my good friend Calvin Lee invited me to meet him up at the Ginger Man. I walked in and there was an individual chatting with my friend Steve Garfield. He projected the good energy of the awesome people of Austin. Good enough he is actually an Austinite and proud of his City.

I heard he was a photographer and also sells men’s grooming products. Interesting enough that I am a photographer and in the past month or so I have been growing some facial hair. He handed me his business card a true piece of art. We started chatting about his way of seeing life and how he brings his values into his business.

Interesting enough he is also known as the bearded bastard. Jeremiah chatted with me for the rest of time I was at the venue. In a few hours I got many lessons on connecting with humans with many senses from visual to scent.

As Jeremiah mentioned he is a bit on the autistic scale which allows him to see the world with a whole different view. Last night Jeremiah gave me a tour into that world and it allowed me to understand what a genius he truly is.  I became a fan of what he does and what he stands for. His sense of style and projecting his personality is really one that can is admirable by many.

The focus on Jeremiah changing business and how we see it. I was able to connect with Jeremiah and find many common interests. I am sure I will continue to chat with him in the weeks to come and will become a customer of their clients.

I am interested in seeing what this opportunity has to hold and how many more stories I will share with you.