Au Revoir Austin: A Successful First SXSW for France

March 14, 2014 | By Kate Kudish
Kerry Trainor, CEO of Vimeo

Everyone anticipated that wearable tech (hello Google Glass!), healthcare (Chelsea Clinton was a keynote speaker), and security and surveillance (#SXSnowden) would be big trends to come out of the South by Southwest Interactive 2014. But fewer predicted that the growth in the global startup scene would so greatly influence SXSW, creating a large international gathering at this year’s tech conference: CNN noted this as one of the 5 things they learned at SXSW Interactive in their wrap up of the annual festivities.

People from 74 countries traveled to Austin this year, a 35% jump from 2013, including Germany, England, Sweden, Brazil, and of course, France. The French Tech presence at SXSW was a big victory in changing the way the international community views France in the entrepreneurial and innovative industries. The French Tech Club was prominently wedged between the Mashable House and the Austin Convention Center, with more than 2,000 guests visiting the space over three days to experience French digital culture like never before.

Our events drew a record first-time crowd. The French Tech Brunch, co-sponsored by the French Embassy and Ubifrance, brought over 260 people, a 30% higher attendance than anticipated. VIPs from major technology and media companies such as Google, Facebook, Orange, Canal+, as well as local Austin stars such as Nakia, a popular musician and singer on ‘The Voice.” They had the opportunity to hear Kerry Trainor, the CEO of Vimeo, speak on the power of paid distribution in media.  Canal+ also introduced Canal Start, their latest investment in media innovations: “In media, innovation is also about technology. We decided to launch Canal Start to have a specific team and a specific development strategy around startups, ” Fabienne Fourquet, Director of New Content at Canal+ told us.

The biggest and most popular event was The French Tech Party / France Rocks, where indie music lovers and innovators came together to toast to France and put on by the Embassy, Ubifrance, and Bureau Export.  With an attendance of over 1,100 partiers and a line around the corner, France kicked off the music portion of SXSW with a big, buzzy bang. Guests rocked out to 5 of the coolest French bands, including headliner La Femme, on a North American tour. Guests also entered to win a trip to Paris from Air France, where the winner will get the chance to visit France’s burgeoning tech community with special meetings set up by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. To enter, guests took photos with the Air France inflated airplane, which served as more entertainment than we expected (see the proof here!).

Leaving Austin exhausted (as most do) but energized with new enthusiasm, the French had a blast at their first ever SXSWi. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to enjoy the events with us and bring new buzz to the French innovative community.

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