Digital Mission Blog

Digital Mission The Digital Mission series is run by Chinwag to support UK-based digital companies expand into new markets and attract overseas investment.

US Visa regulation changes in a nutshell

ESTAAs of 12th January 2009, all UK visitors to the US will need to complete an online registration which replaces the Visa Waiver Form (the green card you usually fill out on the plane).

You must have travel authorisation granted by Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) at least 72 hours before your flight, so this is something for Digital Mission to SXSWi attendee's to get sorted ASAP.

British Airways say:

"The application process may take up to 15-20 minutes and authorisation is normally granted immediately, but may take up to 72 hours. Once granted, Travel Authorisation is valid for multiple entries to the US for two years, unless any answers to the YES/NO questions on the form change or a new passport is required. You are also required to provide Advance Passenger Information to the US government each time you travel to the US."

Here are some handy links with more information:

The online application form can be a bit tricky to find, so we've provided a link below. The form and further information is listed on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) website.

It looks remarkably similar to the green paper version that always proved tricky to fill out using an airline seat-back table.

N.B. When putting together this post, there were lots of sites offering to help fill in the ESTA Waiver Form for a fee. Currently, this isn't required on the ESTA website.

Waiver Form

Pitch at SXSW Interactive - entries close Friday

For those travelling to Austin, Texas in March for SXSW 2009, either as part of the Digital Mission or seperately - here's a cracking competition to feast your eyes on.

SXSW is starting a new program this year dubbed Accelerator. It's aimed at up and coming, under-the-radar products and companies who could benefit from the opportunity to present their latest ideas in social networking applications, innovative web based technology services or new audio / video products to a panel of industry experts, early adaptors, and representatives from the VC community. It will culminate with awards for the top products or services in each category.

There are four categories:
  • Online Music-Related Technologies
  • Online Video-Related Technologies
  • Social Networking Applications
  • Innovative Web Technologies

You can enter up to five products/services across the categories as long as:

  • They were either launched since 16th March, 2009
  • They are scheduled for release at some point up to three months after 16th March, 2009

Winners of each category can receive two badges for the 2010 SXSW Interactive event, a write-up in the April issue of SXSWorld magazine, plus additional prizes yet to be announced.

There's a $100 non-refundable application fee, but finalists will receive two passes to the SXSW Interactive Festival and those who do not qualify will be allowed to register for SXSWi at the early bird rate ($375).

The deadline is Friday 16th January, so no time to dawdle!

More info can be found at:

Or you can contact Chris Valentine on +1 512 699-3467 (remembering the time difference!)

Good luck! 

Texas Calling: the Brits are coming

35 digital companies head out to SXSWi in Austin this March on the next Digital Mission. Their presence at the event is highlighted in this new ad featured in SXSW World, the official conference mag.

Here's the ad which is also available to download in various sizes from the Digital Mission press page.

Digital Mission to SXSWi

Thanks to Chris Harris for the Photoshop magic.

UK digital firms combat credit crunch with Texas trade tour

Jake Stride from Tactile CRM on the Digital Mission to NYCPRESS RELEASE: London, UK, Thursday 8th January 2009

35 of the UK's leading SMEs from the digital industry head to Austin, Texas on the Digital Mission to South by South West Interactive (SXSWi) from 12-18 March 2009, one of the world’s leading conferences for emerging media. Established in 1994, the conference provides an opportunity for the Digital Mission companies to attend hundreds of conference sessions and networking events.

The Digital Mission is organised by digital networking community, Chinwag, on behalf of UKTI (UK Trade & Investment). Combined with the SXSWi, the Digital Mission provides delegates the opportunity to exhibit at SXSWi. A unique 'Nuts and Bolts' masterclass will help British companies understand how to establish and develop their business in the USA, taking guidance from a panel of American and British experts, whilst the "Great British Breakfast" provides a UK-focused networking event for 300 delegates during the conference.

Building on the success of the Digital Mission to New York in September 2008 - also organised by Chinwag for the UKTI - this second trip to Texas will assist firms to develop new business channels, partnerships, investment and provide a detailed knowledge of the US market.

Companies were invited to apply for the Digital Mission. The 35 successful delegates were selected from over 100 entries by an advisory board of industry experts drawn from including Mike Butcher, TechCrunch UK Editor, Herb Kim, Codeworks CEO and Sarbjit Bakhshi, Head of Information & Technology Group, UKTI.

Companies nominated for the Digital Mission to SXSWi are:

More information about each company can be seen on the Digital Mission website:

Both Digital Mission events are generously supported by official sponsors Sun Startup Essentials ( and legal experts, Winston & Strawn ( Technical development experts, CoreObjects ( have joined the sponsors in generously supporting the Digital Mission to SXSWi.

Chinwag CEO Sam Michel said: "After the frenetic activity and subsequent success of the Digital Mission to New York, it’s really exciting to have such a diverse, exciting and innovative range of digital companies on the Digital Mission to South by South West. It’s a great opportunity for the companies and based on our experiences on the Digital Mission to New York will also help promote the UK’s digital industry more widely in the US".

For more information, please visit:

Press resources including pictures, logos and a PDF/Word version of this release is available at:


About Chinwag
The Chinwag community is a focal point for digital media practitioners in the UK and beyond ( Founded in 1996, it has grown into a community media company that publishes websites, discussion forums and blogs supporting the people and companies who work in the digital industry. In February 2007 the Chinwag Live events series launched (, topical panel discussions that have also gone on tour to the Internet World and Ad:Tech conferences, and recently extended to Manchester. Chinwag also publishes Chinwag Jobs (, the leading recruitment website for digital marketing, media, technical and design positions.

About UKTI
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) can help you rise to the exciting opportunities and challenges that globalisation offers. We work with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets. We also encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through our national and global networks. It's our goal to enhance the competitiveness of companies in the UK, and to attract a continuing high level of quality foreign direct investment.

About SXSW Interactive
The SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) festival and expo offers five days of panels, keynote discussions, Trade Show, and exciting evening events. Founded in 1994, SXSWi is one of the longest established and most influential gatherings of digital developers, creatives, marketers and thought leaders, a who’s who of the US Internet scene which last year saw over 9,500 delegates attending. SXSWi is part of SXSW week which includes a film festival and the world-famous music festival.

For further information, please missionatchinwag [dot] com (contact us).

Quick, slap a CEO


Literally, he needs a slap. And all in the aid of launching his new website, Sweemo or Sweet Moments, one of the 21 companies chosen for the recent Digital Mission to New York.

Sweemo is a auction site for real-life experiences from Zorbing with Models to Chocolate-making, the site builds on the popularity of experiences as gifts. Could be an interesting alternative to the usual Christmas list fare.

"Thanks Grandma, I loved the socks last year, but I'm kinda hoping to shadow a private investigator this year."

As Jay Nguyen, the CEO with proferred cheek says,

You are bidding on the opportunity to smack me round the face with a big, wet fish.

I should introduce myself. My name’s Jay, and I’m the founder and CEO of Sweemo (the place where people offer ‘Sweet Moments’ to each other)... and this just seemed like a fun thing to do to get things started!

But hurry, there's only 30 minutes left to bid. The package includes flights and accommodation from anywhere in the world, so it's not all fish-slapping. There's more from Jay on YouTube.


[Update: See what happened when the winner turned up with a 15kg fish]