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Aussie start-ups bid for place on SXSW PanelPicker

Tuesday, 23 August 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Two Australian start-ups have submitted an application to the 2012 South by Southwest PanelPicker, with the aim of promoting Australia as an ideal place to do business.


South by Southwest, or SXSW, is an interactive festival held every year in Texas, showcasing the latest in music, film and technologies. The event attracts around 20,000 people.


The SXSW PanelPicker allows the public to have a say in the program, with the public’s votes accounting for around 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming spot.


Kim McKay, founder of NSW-based business Klick Communications, teamed up with three others entrepreneurs before submitting an application to the PanelPicker.


The other applicants include Buuna founder Paul Lin, Pankaj Prassad of San Francisco company DoubleDutch, and Heather Snodgrass of location-based app Roamz.


The submission focuses on Australia’s start-up culture, beckoning businesses to consider testing their products in the Australian market.


“Australia is the perfect test market for anyone, from the bedroom app maker to the corporate behemoth,” the submission states.

“This panel is no tourism pamphlet. Panelists will give an overview of Australia’s diverse but small population that is highly connected and full of early adopters.”


“[Panelists will also] provide advice on setting up Down Under, and scaling your business to the international market.”


McKay says she chose each of the other applicants based on their experience in, or direct relation to, the Australian market.


If selected to form a panel for SXSW, McKay and her team will present a one-hour presentation on the attractiveness of the Australian market.


McKay says presenting at SXSW would be a major coup as the conference is looked upon by some as an indicator of future trends, claiming “everything that ‘wins’ at SXSW wins the race”.


“The things that get the most business [at SXSW] – I’m confident they will be successful afterwards… Foursquare launched there, Twitter launched there,” she says.


For those who are thinking of attending SXSW in 2012, McKay says they should plan their schedule in advance as it can be quite overwhelming when it’s taking place.


“The hardest thing is picking the panels you want to attend… Plan your days as well as you can and ask people what panels they’re going to,” she says.


“You’ll be able to see the trends very quickly if you are asking questions.”