SXSW here I come: Obama, Will.i.am and big tech innovation await

Leaving on a jet plane, Pavegen founder Laurence Kemball-Cook is en route to Austin, Texas for the hotly anticipated South by Southwest conference

Laurence Kemball-Cook is the founder and CEO of cleantech company Pavegen and will be reporting for Startups.co.uk from South by Southwest, the super-conference and festival for tech, music and innovation. Last month he called for the tech industry to kill ‘fake’ networking events. Here, in his first SXSW post he shares his excitement as he flies out…

I’m heading to South by Southwest (SXSW), arriving in Austin Texas on March 10 and returning to the UK on the 16th. It’s going to be a huge week for Pavegen – we’re attending for the first time, as ambassadors of British business for Tech City UK.

I have something to look forward to every day while I’m there; I’ll be attending events organised by Mashable, Spotify, UKTI and Google, as well as supporting women in tech with Tech City UK. Women form just 25% of the tech workforce and I’m determined to change this with the help of SXSW’s most influential leaders.

Thanks to my friend Jillian Longnecker I’m also attending the premiere screening of a film written by the team that made Pineapple Express and This Is The End. Jillian’s a rockstar producer and has worked on several amazing films including End of Watch and Let Me In, so make sure you check them out!

I’m most excited for the Austin Reception with Barack Obama, to which I was invited a few days ago. I’m looking forward to sharing my opinions on the environmental issues in America and how Pavegen can work to improve them in smart city landscapes. Will.i.am will be hosting the event, and having worked with him on several projects in the past it’ll be great to catch up again.

For me, South by Southwest is the hub of innovation and creativity from around the world, and a great opportunity for Pavegen to strengthen relationships with US businesses, as well as partnering with some exciting new start-ups. We’ve recently broken into the US market by setting up offices in both San Francisco and New York, through the help of our Advisory Board.

I had booked a hotel that recently fell through because of an issue with the booking. However, now I have found myself a caravan to stay in that is cycling distance from the main venue. I wonder if I’m going to end up in some sort of trailer park!

It’s going to be an epic event, and I hope to reconnect with some familiar faces, as well as make new connections and help Pavegen grow in the American market! See you there!

Laurence Kemball-Cook is the founder and CEO of cleantech company Pavegen, the flooring technology that turns wasted kinetic energy from footsteps into renewable electricity. You can follow him on Twitter at @laurencekc

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