Digital Mission Master Class - South by South West Begins

It's Saturday and I'm nestled next to a power socket and Ethernet connection on the Digital Mission stand. South by South West is in full swing around us, with the companies talking, demoing and networking their way though the show. It's hard to describe the buzz in words; the tweets on the #sxsw hash tag rush past at the rate of a couple a second and the streets and hotels of Austin are packed with people from the digital media industry.

Digital Mission Workshop

Yesterday the Palm Door was the venue for the master class sessions. The Winston & Strawn team talked the companies through the issues around setting up a US entity, both in terms of tax and legal benefits. Thinking about where you establish a US entity can be a complex issue, each of the US states has different laws and regulations. The session also covered how to avoid intellectual property issues when working with contractors, and key employment issues businesses setting up in the US should be aware of.

The UKTI team talked through the US digital market, with  Bart Bohn (Austin Technology Incubator), Lorenzo Thione (Microsoft), Matt Cohen (OneSpot), Deborah Sauter, (Digitaria) and Aziz Gilani,(DFJ Mercury Venture Capital) leading a lively panel, including some heated debate! David Maher-Roberts (The Filter), Richard Moross (, Toby Daniels (Social Media Week) and Sumon Sadhu (YouNoodle) shared their experiences of setting up in the US.

The panels stressed the importance of adapting to the market - most companies don't end up with the revenue model they started out thinking they would have. Today's start up costs are much lower, with scaleable cloud infrastructures, and access to large audiences through social media. Define your talent to price ratio, and go where that talent is. The US provides a huge range of opportunities, and UK businesses setting up here are following in the footsteps of many who have successfully done so before.

The sessions rounded off with Andy Budd (Clearleft), Shawn O'Keefe (Producer, SXSW) and Rob Corradi (NeonState) sharing their tips for getting the best out of South By, from changing your socks when the sun goes down, to using the rule of two feet - If a session isn't working for you, walk over to another one. The digital mission companies are already blogging their experiences.

If you are at South by South West, drop by the Digital Mission stand (you can't miss it in the exhibition hall!) and recharge your batteries and download your email, while you chat with the mission companies.