For many people, South By Southwest (SXSW) represents the epitome of music exploration. What you may not realize is how the festival has grown over the last 30 years since it’s inception, not only exploring the future of entertainment and media, but also the best of innovation across technology and business.
Notable companies that launched at SXSW include Twitter in 2007, Foursquare in 2009 and GroupMe in 2011.
While these sexy applications all have a certain gravitas, I’ve seen a fundamental shift in the companies and conversations covered by the conference, from applications with sex appeal, to those with what I’ll call solution appeal.
Whether it’s transportation, healthtech, or fintech, we’re seeing innovation in historically “unsexy” industries focusing on key concerns that can change how and where we live, how we get medical care and how we manage and maintain our financial well being.
This year, innovation in housing and finance were brought center stage at SXSW because of the real issues associated with housing affordability and accessibility and how technology is addressing them. We are seeing many different companies utilizing technologies such as machine learning, predictive modeling and even virtual reality to solve complex problems and deliver better service on individual wants and needs in a less intrusive way than has been done in the past.
Ultimately, this will help with the future planning of how and where people are going to live, how to build affordable and sustainable housing, and how to have better insights into what people want and need in their homes.
There were several panels dedicated specifically to housing and home financing with topics like "Banks and Beyond” and “The American Housing Crisis: Can data help?” I had the honor of presenting during the SoFin @ SXSW track, where I demonstrated how Sindeo is creating a differentiated consumer experience by being able to match homebuyers with the right mortgages.
The other presenters were varied in their size and focus, but singular in their approach to leverage technology to solve complex problems from mobile banking to insurance and even compliance.
This track was organized by Mike Langford, founder and CEO of finservMarketing. “After years of participating in SXSW and as a 20-year veteran of the financial service industry with a passion for innovation and new technologies, I saw a need for this type of conversation on a national and very visible level. As new technologies disrupt the housing and finance industries, consumers will be the beneficiaries of better affordability, accessibility and enhanced consumer experiences,” said Lanford.
Given that SXSW has consistently been at the forefront of disruptive trends and the most up-to-date technologies, expect to see an increased and broader focus on the housing and home financing industries as they experience massive innovation over the next two to three years.