Your SXSWi Rookie Tool Kit

Your SXSWi Rookie Tool Kit

Weslie Oeftering
Weslie Oeftering
Your SXSWi Rookie Tool Kit

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For techies, at least. Why? Because SXSWi is here!

There is simply no other conference like SXSWi. So many panels to attend, so many parties with free drink tickets – the possibilities are endless. If you are a SXSWi rookie, you’re probably wondering what you need to bring.

Hint: do not walk out of your hotel room with just your wallet and phone. You will feel woefully unprepared for the day ahead. Don’t worry though, we have compiled a list of things that you do need to bring with you on your maiden SXSWi voyage.

Business Cards

Picture this: you walk into a coffee shop near the Austin Convention Center, and the keynote speaker from the panel you watched just a few hours ago is just sitting there by themselves. You have to say something, or your business partner will surely kill you. So you go to talk to him. It goes great.

He asks for your business card… but you don’t have one on you. You immediately went from a great potential investment to an unprepared SXSWi rookie.

Case in point: bring some business cards. Otherwise, you will seem unprepared, which is always a bad first impression. A nice card is much safer than writing information on a napkin. We’ve all heard the stories about making it big by writing on a napkin. But those stories are rare for a reason; napkins get thrown away all the time – either by mistake or on purpose. For every person that grew their start-up with a napkin, there are 10 that grew it with a business card. And, if your handwriting is terrible, imagine how bad it will look on a napkin.

Trust me, writing on napkins is only cool in the movies.

Hand Sanitizer

Lots of networking means lots of handshaking. Lots of handshaking means lots of germs, which means getting sick. Getting sick means missing the panel that you really wanted to go to.

Bring hand sanitizer, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time on Dirty Sixth while you are here. It is possibly the most aptly named street in all of Texas.

Water Bottle

Walking around in 70-degree weather sounds like a breeze, and it often is. However, when you need to be on the other side of downtown Austin in 10 minutes and there’s not a pedicab in sight, you’ll be thankful for a drink as you hike down Congress Avenue.

A Notebook

There are lots of things to take notes on at SXSW and it’s not always practical to whip out your laptop. You could just do it on your phone, but depending on the situation, you could look rude. A nice Moleskine notebook (or any notebook, for that matter) will absolve you of these problems.

A Rain Jacket

Texas is known for its heat, not for its rain. Austin is different though. Tourists are always shocked (and unprepared) for the amount of rain the city gets. The foothills of Northwest Austin ensure that the wind and rain from the Gulf of Mexico get stuck here, to the tune of 40 inches of rain in 2018. That’s why Austin is so much greener than the rest of the state. It’s also why you need to bring a rain jacket with you.


As I said before, Texas is known for its heat. Put travel sized deodorant in your backpack. Please.


SXSW is tiring. Bring something to refresh your eyeballs so you don’t look like a zombie whenever you finally get the chance to pitch your start-up.

There you have it. With these tools (especially the deodorant!), the only person who will know that you are a SXSWi rookie is you.

About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. Swyft is a tech marketing agency in Austin with offices in Denver, Houston and Antwerp that provides digital marketing services and trade show lead gen support for tech companies around the world. Some of their services include media relations, content and inbound marketing, CPC campaigns, and marketing automation consulting.

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