One of my favorite parts of attending SXSW this year was seeing a little bit of home – home being Washington, DC – in Austin. This was the fourth year that the Washington, DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP) had a presence at the festival, and it was their strongest presence yet.
DC took over Revival Public House in Austin, TX, where I had the pleasure of sitting down with Julie Weber, WDCEP's Director of Marketing and creator of WeDC, and Alexandra Gibson, CMO of Event Farm, which is an enterprise event marketing platform founded in DC, to talk about how they are working to further DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's mission to position DC as an innovation hub and promote the city's small businesses and startups.
WDCEP and Event Farm made a great partnership for the events being hosted at SXSW this year. Weber said that after having worked with EventBrite in years past, they really wanted to work with a DC-based company this year.
“We really wanted to use a DC-based tech company that was in that space, and because we had a couple of options we really wanted to make sure that it was a platform we were using, especially since we're promoting DC tech, we wanted to make sure that everything we could possibly be using that's made in DC is kind of reflected in what we're doing.”
The first year that WDCEP came to SXSW, it was mostly to check out the scene, see who was there, and get a sense of how it might be helpful for the promotion of DC as a vibrant, entrepreneurial, and innovative city.
“The number one goal is to promote Washington, DC as a very accommodating and vibrant technology city,” said Weber. “We really want to highlight our tech startup community, not only from getting outside investors to look at investing in the startup community, but also from a perspective of finding talent, helping them grow, to encourage talent to move to the district. We have an extremely educated and diverse workforce and talent force in DC, but we can always grow more.”
DC's presence in Austin wasn't only about promoting DC Tech. They were able to use the opportunity to promote and highlight the diversity and inclusiveness that is prevalent in the DC moreso than many other cities.
“In terms of inclusivity and diversity, that's been a huge mission, both from a music side, but also on the technology side. We had our Inclusion event with Mayor Bowser. Steve Case joined us, Jean Case joined us, to celebrate that Washington, DC is the most inclusive city in the nation.”