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Best way to put Philly on the map at SXSW 2018? Speak on a panel

But get to it: The deadline to apply is July 21.

LIA Diagnostics at SXSW 2017. (Courtesy photo)
This is a guest post by Izzy Sarlo of Philly Startup Leaders.

In March 2017, over 250 Philadelphians headed over to Austin, Texas, to rep Philly at the annual SXSW Conference. Our delegation worked throughout the week to put the best Philly has to offer on display, and efforts did not go unnoticed. Keriton, makers of a breast milk management system, won $15,000 and sit-downs with eight children’s hospitals nationwide; wearable tech company ROAR for Good received national press hits and ended up hanging with the CEO of Bumble; and the acquisition of a single client brought in $500,000 for digital design and development company Arcweb.

Now the questions stands: How can we do even more this year? And how can you be a part of it all?

SXSW puts thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies on display, and in 2018 you can step into the spotlight to rep your business, your city and your own personal brand.

The SXSW Panel Picker is the official proposal platform for the event, and it gives applicants the chance to submit a proposal that, if selected, grants them the opportunity to be a speaker at the 2018 conference. The benefits of an opportunity like this are endless — you can help the Amplify Philly initiative put our city in the spotlight; bring attention to your business by reaching a new, diverse audience that guarantees brand exposure; define yourself as an emerging thought leader in a specific area of interest; and the list goes on. (Not to mention that speakers get to stay at the SXSW hotel with a free badge to the Interactive portion of the conference.)

The deadline to submit a proposal is July 21, so we suggest getting to work ASAP to put together a stellar submission. You can look here for some quick tips and pointers as you build out your proposal.


And the greatest part is anyone can apply. SXSW aims to highlights a spectrum of perspectives and experiences, so whether you’re the founder of a multimillion-dollar company, an employee at a three-person startup, or a lone designer, it’s the content you propose that counts.

Josh Silverbaur, cofounder of “digital everything agency” Grue & Bleen, spoke at last year’s SXSW Conference, and urges anyone considering to apply.

“Speaking at SXSW was an incredible opportunity,” Silverbaur said. “There is so much talent and energy there, and contributing to it, even in a small way, was greatly fulfilling. I was able to make many connections, get a wonderful life-experience, and have a ton of fun.”

The Panel Picker process consists of a few steps including a video, a short and long description and the underrated-yet-crucial task of naming the talk.

“The title and video are the most important parts of the Panel Picker submission,” said current designer at Google and a 2015 SXSW speaker Kent Eisenhuth. “The title is the first thing people will see and it will entice them to read more about your proposal. In addition to allowing you to further describe your topic, the video enables you to demonstrate your presentation and public speaking skills prior to being placed in front of the SXSW audience.”

An audience, which Kent notes, is not your typical audience. A diverse group of investors, journalists, founders, students, government officials and more pack the stands at most SXSW talks, so getting in front of this crowd provides an incredibly valuable opportunity to do far more than just speak on a topic of expertise.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Yuval Yarden at or Dave Silver at, who are heading up the SXSW Philly initiative or check out the SXSW PanelPicker FAQs.

If you’re interested in supporting the Amplify Philly initiative as it prepares to lead Philly at SXSW, reach out to Yarden or Silver to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

Companies: Philly Startup Leaders / SXSW

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