Julie Forsythe, Director, Entrepeneurship & Innovation, Quad Cities Chamber

Even in the controlled chaos of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, there were plenty of lessons to be learned for entrepreneurs and startups. SXSW is an international convergence of film, interactive media and music all rolled into one venue throughout the month of March in Austin, Texas. It also includes a set of conferences on a variety of topics. This year, entrepreneurship was front and center.

I attended SXSW this year for the first time and was not disappointed. It was a great couple days in Texas, and not just because of the great food and sunshine. There were plenty of opportunities to be inspired, network, create, do deals and have fun whether attending formally or informally, just taking advantage of the peripheral events and opportunities. I left SXSW armed with some incredible entrepreneurial knowledge. Here are a few tidbits I learned from one of the session presenters, Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank, which anyone seeking funding for an entrepreneurial venture can employ today.

  • Be able to describe your business opportunity in 90 seconds or less
  • Be able to describe why you are the right entrepreneur to execute the business plan
  • Know your numbers, know your numbers, know your numbers
  • O'Leary is investing in primarily female-owned businesses now because he sees the common denominator in businesses with the best returns - women.
  • Be aware of new technologies/innovations that may disrupt your business

Through Ignite Quad Cities, a program of the Chamber, we offer resources to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Ignite is here to connect you to resources, a network and a community of like-minded individuals as you work to launch your startup. One of the resources we provide is monthly Meetups for the local entrepreneurial community. These free, casual gatherings offer a place to exchange ideas and learn from seasoned entrepreneurs. Last week, at our monthly Meetup, held at Roz Tox in Rock Island, we provided a complete rundown of everything we learned at SXSW. 

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