Philly’s digital community starts planning group effort at South by Southwest

A coalition of Philadelphia organizations present a united effort at SXSWi 2016.

The group planning a bigger presence at SXSW 2016.

The group planning a bigger presence at SXSW 2016.


Philadelphia is looking to get its act together for South By Southwest.

As in years past, a sizable contingent of businesses — established companies and start-ups — are planning a presence at the annual Festival of Cool in Austin, Texas in mid-March. But inspired by last year’s coordination by Washington, D.C., Chicago and Japan, there’s a nascent drive to begin coordination now, to find out who’s going, and how everyone can make a bigger splash.

The mission, as illustrated by its stated purpose on the open Google group: A coalition of Philadelphia organizations present a united effort at SXSWi 2016.

“I want more people, companies, and capital to look at Philly as a great place to work, live, play and invest in. SXSW is an amazing conference filled with the leaders and decision makers from a wide range of industries, and I don’t like seeing overpriced, second-rate cities getting press and attention while affordable, culturally rich, and generally awesome cities like Philly are left out of the conversation,” said Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg, the CEO and co-founder of Zivtech, a Philly web design and development firm. “Most people have no idea how great Philly is, and this is one small way to help them see the light.”

And so a group had its initial meeting Thursday on the 45th floor of Comcast’s Center City headquarters, thanks to Danielle Cohn, the company’s director of entrepreneurial engagement. The crowd, including Urevick-Ackelsberg, Guru’s Rick Nucci, Archna Sahay and Luke Butler from the City of Philadelphia, and Visit Philadelphia’s Betsy Oliphant, noshed on wraps, salads and cookies while they started planning how Philly can make a splash in Austin.

There’s plenty of planning to be done, but the first step is rounding up Philadelphia companies who are already planning to head to SXSW. Those who want to know more and keep tabs on the group’s progress can request to join the Google Group set up immediately following Thursday’s meeting, where next steps — including coordination, setting priorities, and figuring out branding and messaging — will play out in the weeks to come.

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Chris Krewson is the executive director of LION Publishers, a national nonprofit association that serves local journalism entrepreneurs build sustainable news organizations, and the founding editor of Billy Penn. He lives in Havertown.