What do cupcakes, tech and Schrodinger’s cat have in common?

Answer: My first day at my first ever South by Southwest (‘SXSW’ or ‘South by’, as the super cool veterans call it) conference in Austin, TX.

“Overwhelming” is the best word to describe this day. It started with the schedule of panels, meetups, talks, book readings, mentor sessions, parties and keynote speakers. I got so stressed trying to figure out which of 10 events in 10 different venues around the city I should attend at any given hour!

I did RSVP to go to a session about the Internet of Things, getting all excited about learning new trends. Instead, I ended up in a panel of 4 boring middle aged guys, trying to impress each other and the audience by talking about Moore’s law and microchips.  When asked by show of hands to answer who is a hardware geek or a software geek, I was one of the few people in the room not to raise my hand. Clear clue to being in the wrong place, eh? After this  I just simply gave up and switched the logic to picking stuff that were closest to my physical location at any given time.

My next session was a keynote by Paola Antonelli, the architecture and design curator from the MOMA, titled Curious Bridges: How designers grow the future.  Here, the attendants looked much cooler, a mix of hipsters and artsy Japanese people so  I was starting to feel cooler myself. But then, when Ms. Antonelli started talking about quantum design, Schrodinger’s Cat, superposition, Entanglement, I started missing my physicist boyfriend and having flashbacks to when he would talk about work and my mind would start going into the blue screen mode. I quickly started snapping photos of her slides, trying to impress him with the level of my intellect, which allowed me to watch such sophisticated lecture. Once I got tired of snapping pictures, I realized that 20 mins have passed and I still had no clue what this lady was talking about.

Paola Antonelli, MOMA, Austin, SxSW
Keynote speaker Paola Antonelli, MOMA
quanto theory, sxsw 2015, quantom design
Explanation of connection to the multiverse and its influence on design (aka brain entanglement)

Just before dropping out of this event, I did learn about the most impressive art piece (UN)known to mankind: the menstruation machine (created by artist Sputniko to show men how does having a period feel like).

You can watch the video about it here

Finally, I stumbled upon a women entrepreneurs event, which lured us in with custom-made cupcakes and free drinks. The ladies (except for some panelists), were pretty cool, and we had a great discussion about why networking, role models, and better pipelines of candidates are all important in getting more women into tech and into leadership roles overall. I really wanted to take over the discussion but it wasn’t allowed 😦

I also got a bunch of business cards because I decided that in the next few days I shall become the networker I have never been. To be continued…

SxSW Women in Business, Dell, Women Entrepreneurs, Austin, TX
Women entrepreneurs / Dell know how to pick locations for their events. – Incredible view at the pool deck of the JW Marriot
custom cupcakes, Austin, TX, SXSW 2015, Dell
Getting my customized cupcake
Custom cupcake, SXSW 2015, Austin
Just before stuffing my face (also, no idea what was on it because just like the conference sessions, the list of options was so overwhelming that I randomly picked something)
big idea art co, Austin, SXSW 2015
Big Idea Art Co mural I really liked

An Inspirational Week

This week I have been on a manic streak of inspiration.
1. I helped 3 girlfriends with 3 different business ideas to think about next steps of making them into reality. One if focused on women empowerment in the workplace (my personal passion), another wants to help us women learn more about our sexuality and improve thereby our sex lives (an important deed) and a third one who wants to help people with international food tourism (I just lovvvved the idea). I hope all three become sensational success and make our world a better place!

2) I tried to get my father to sign up for Coursera’s sustainable energy course with the premise that it is so fascinating how you can solve various human problems through engineering solutions. He said that this is what he has been working on all his life and that I dropped it by going to the business side. I still felt inspired afterwards. I can just hire engineers!

3) I decided to scale up my efforts and on the fly invited 50 women from my company, from different departments and hierarchy levels, to join me for a happy hour next week. Really looking forward to see how it goes!!

Now, time to re-energize and think of next victims of my grand scheme of making people happier!

Inspirational Windmills from Malawi

Today someone said I inspired her. So I decided to inspire more people. It is amazing to see how on a zero budget and no formal education someone can do something like electricity generation!! Think about how many resources of corporations around the world go into solving a similar problem…

The Glamorous life of an Entrepreneur Part 8 – Baby Steps

Some time has passed since my last post about entrepreneurial life.

I got to know 2 new start up accelerators
1. Papaya Ventures – started (among rest) by the impressive lady, Luisa Ribeiro, is located in a trendy remodeled colonial style house in Botafogo. I enjoyed the cool space and the great vide that left me impressed and motivated. I also met the guys from Dujour – who are promising to be the next IT thing for fashion and looks sharing. Maybe the next Instagram? They come from the technology and fashion retail background so they certainly know what they are doing! Apparently, some celebs are using their app already! ( I have a memory of an ant, so I cannot remember which ones, but I believe it was some rapper.. )

For whoever is interesting, Papaya’s last cycle was dedicated to consumer mobile apps and they are working on their next one which will focus on B2B.

2. Tonight, I attended an event from the Founder Institute, which is an accelerator for persons who work full time and want to launch something in their free time. They have an interesting setup of a type of mutual fund: everyone who enters has to contribute and also give a share to all the other existing members. They are now launching an accelerator program in Rio for the first time. I went because they have a big track record of launching ~500 companies in 20+ cities around the world so I figured it could be an interesting option for me.
The information session left me unimpressed by promises of a potential network of Rio-based mentors (who might those be exactly?) and a bunch of middle-aged participants who kept talking about their existing companies and how they want to relaunch them and be innovative.
Now I am trying to evaluate if I want to spend 15 weeks meeting these people and will I learn anything from this. On the other hand, it may be a good discipline to focus on execution. Food for thought.

As for LetMeKnow, I finally managed to buy a very cool customized logo from 99designs.com for only $100 bucks and one day of execution. Best deal I’ve made so far in this business! Now, the only thing left is to figure out how to add it to the website! Indeed, baby steps..

And.. last but not least, Mulheres de Lideraça / Women Leaders is still going very strong with lots of support from everyone! Love it.

The Glamorous Life of an Entrepreneur part 6 – On to the challenges

Continuing my saga, which I last described in part 5:

I recently read a book called Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely, and he was talking about how difficult it is to change behavioral patterns. One interesting example he mentions is about bloggers that tackles issues through blogging about them to the world, and creating a support self-motivating community this way. The common objectives are to stop smoking, save more money, repay credit card debt, etc. I figured that perhaps I could follow the same pattern in order to keep motivating myself about the business (as some of you may know, motivation is one the most critical ingredients of start-up road which is full of potholes and curves).

Having said that, I thought I would share the progress I had had this week:
  1. Spoke to an advertising professional and a retail professional to get some new contacts at fashion brands
  2. Had dinner with a local entrepreneur veteran who said she will introduce me to her contact at FIRJAN – an industry association, which apparently among rest is investing in promoting Rio as a fashion capital.
  3. Started preparing materials in Portuguese for a digital marketing agency targeting high-end retailers
  4. Helped a friend to make a valuation model for his start-up business. Thinking I should invest in it based on the numbers I got..
  5. Met an entrepreneur who is working on software tool to recruit IT professionals for projects and discussed potential collaboration options. Offered my help in getting investors.
  6. Started collecting a group of people to invest in setting up a hostel in Rio (got 4 people excited, now only need to find a property).
  7. Talked to a designer in Russia to help me create a logo for the website.
  8. Decided I need to find an intern (no luck yet but asking everyone)
  9. Went to visit some fashion stores and got business cards of the management office
  10. Carpet bombed some retail professionals on LinkedIn to see if they would want to talk to me
  11. Started a social movement to empower women to take leadership roles in business. The facebook page is up so obviously the sky is the limit! I realized lately that it’s a cause I care a lot about and have a chance of making some difference in. So hope everyone joins and shares inspiring stories of women leaders.
  12. You can read about what happened with it in part 7.

  13. Made a presentation to a group of USA MBAs visiting Brazil. They seemed to enjoy it. I hope I inspired at least some of them to try something else aside from consulting or banking in NYC or SF.
I suppose I also got some sleep, did all the other stuff that I normally do: went to work, gym, met with friends, went to a house party, read my book, watched Mad Men. I guess time really stretches when one multi-tasks.
Looking forward to the next one..