11 Places to Meet Social Good Entrepreneurs at SXSW 

Amidst the free alcohol and sticky barbecue, SXSW 2015 offers you the chance to connect with entrepreneurs who are truly making a difference at SXgood.

SXgood is a collection of events, meetups, and, yes, parties to connect, inspire, and educate social good entrepreneurs. The United Nations Foundation is sponsoring a Social Good Hub on March 16-17 at Trinity Hall, two full days of events dedicated to social entrepreneurship. In addition, some of the regular SXSW programming falls under the category of SXgood – see the full list of SXgood events here.

What does SXSW mean by social good, exactly? Taking a look at the sessions, you’ll find talks about solving world problems like poverty, protecting freedom and privacy, and safeguarding the environment. You’ll also find talks about empowering minorities in tech and fighting discrimination based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. In short, social good is about making the world a better place by tackling today’s biggest challenges.

Of course, being a social good entrepreneur isn’t always easy. Having a cause might help you draw in customers and supporters, but you’re challenged with two tasks: making a profit and fulfilling a mission. Many of the problems you’re tackling are long-standing, not so easily solved by an inventive app or a genius algorithm. That’s why connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs at SXgood is such an amazing opportunity and a great motivator.

We picked out SXgood sessions and places where you can meet other social entrepreneurs in the areas of social impact, diversity, and environment – check them out below:

1. Social impact:

Speed Date Your Way to Massive Social Impact

Date: Monday, March 16, 9-10 am

Where: Trinity Hall

In this fast-paced session, social impact entrepreneurs will attempt to meet as many experts as possible in just one hour. Join us for a chance to “date” and pick the sexy minds of brilliant leaders from companies like Shift Communications, Patagonia, Wavelength, Sanders|Wingo, and more. Get valuable advice on pitching, fundraising, marketing, PR, technology, and maybe even your love life. Sign up here.

The Beacon: Lounge with a Conscience

Date: Open March 13-17

Where: Austin Convention Center, room 8b

The Beacon Lounge by Beaconfire is the place at SXSW to connect with innovators in the social good sector who are passionate about using technology to change the world. For the last seven years, our chill and recharging oasis inside the Austin Convention Center has attracted a vibrant and dynamic community of do-gooders who come to network, hang out with people who “get it,” or just to take a break and catch their breath.

Hackathon for Social Good

Date: Saturday, March 14, 9:30 am-6 pm

Where: JW Marriott, room 306

Join web and mobile experts in an all-day Hackathon for Social Good, where programmers and designers work collaboratively to build programs and applications for awesome non-profit organizations. The hackathon begins with short presentations by non-profit representatives, then participants break up into teams to plan, design, and build a website or application in less than eight hours. Unnerving, challenging, and fast-paced? You bet. A mad adrenaline rush? Of course. And it’s always for a great cause.

Impact Investing Rumble

Date: Monday, March 16, 12-1 pm

Where: Trinity Hall

Join Jean Case, Jigar Shah, Ross Baird, and Sonal Shah for a memorable Impact Investing point/counterpoint debate exploring whether or not impact investing really is the next big thing when it comes to creating change in the social sector. Two champions of impact investing will take on two nay-sayers in a tag-team-style debate to fight it out over whether or not one can really invest and receive financial returns…AND do social good. Throw out your Robert’s Rules of Order for this lively exchange and come ready to cheer on your side!

Be Fearless Breakout

Date: Tuesday, March 17, 11:30 am-12:30 pm

Where: Trinity Hall

Does your organization make big bets that can change the world? All too often those of us in the social sector are confronted with chronic challenges that require BIG solutions. However, those big solutions require taking risks, being bold and failing forward…being fearless. That all sounds great, but we know the reality is…it’s hard to Be Fearless.

To help you on your organization’s Be Fearless journey, the Case Foundation is hosting a working group for practitioners from foundations and nonprofits to explore how you and your organization can integrate strategies and tactics to create greater impact and more meaningful social change. Sign up here to learn from directors at the Levi Strauss Foundation and Case Foundation.

2. Diversity:

IEEE Women in Tech Summit

Date: Monday, March 16, 1-3 pm

Where: Trinity Hall

The challenges of attaining equal representation and retaining women in technology are two highly discussed issues in the high-tech industry today. Many organizations are focused on inspiring girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and on providing sustainable support for women to advance their careers. Regardless, it is predicted that more than half of the career women employed in STEM-related fields will leave the tech industry in their mid-30s. Join IEEE and the UN Foundation as we unite SXSW attendees with some of today’s leading women in technology. We’ll harness our collective brainpower to build on the positive potential of women in tech. Leveraging “appreciative inquiry” methodology and design thinking tactics, we’ll collaboratively develop ideas, solutions, and prototypes that help women develop sustainable support networks that usher in opportunity, encourage growth, and drive success.

The Bombastic Brilliance of Black Twitter II

Date: Friday, March 13, 12:30-1:30 pm

Where: Austin Convention Center, room 6AB

In this dual conversation between American and Africana Studies Scholar, digital strategist, and upcoming author of The Bombastic Brilliance of Black Twitter Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis (aka @DrGoddess) and journalist and journalism educator @MeredithClark (who completed her dissertation on “Black Twitter” in Fall 2014), a serious, fun, and focused interrogation of the arc of Black Twitter will occur. While both panelists have an academic background, they each bring a history of cultural criticism as well as journalistic integrity, digital engagement, and social media expertise to the fore. They will discuss the evolution of “Black Twitter” since 2009, the mainstream media’s obsession since 2012, the various ways in which the community has been truncated and misrepresented, as well as the longstanding tradition of forthright Black assertion in public spaces, including #TrayvonMartin, #Ferguson, #ICantBreathe, and #BlackLivesMatter, #Selma, and #Selma2Ferguson.

Technology Needs Latinas: Bold Decision Makers

Date: Monday, March 16, 5-6 pm

Where: Austin Convention Center, room 6AB

Latinas are bold because they are decision makers, fascinated by what they do. They are entrepreneurs because they fight for their dreams and goals. Tech Latinas are those who make what they say, they’re committed to contribute to make a big impact, they are inclusive, they inspire others to inspire, and they know that working together and recognizing the work of others goes further. Tech Latinas never betray their ideals no matter what people say, they are confident of what they want, they never stay in their comfort zone, and their mission in life is to transcend. Presented by Epic Queen’s Ana Karen Ramirez Tellez and Daniela Victoria González.

3. Environment:

SXSW Eco Speed Startup Pitches

Date: Sunday, March 15, 5-6 pm

Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon A

Get a rapid-fire introduction to investment opportunities in cleanweb, green tech, and social impact at this fast-paced pitch event featuring three-minute presentations from the Finalists of the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase. Presenting companies include Charity Charge, Digital H2O, Elequa, Energy Depot, Gridmates, Harbor Biometrics, Lagoon Systems, MeetnGreetMe, PAX Pure, Picasolar, Skyven Technologies, and Wetzel Blade.

SXSW Eco Meetup

Date: Sunday, March 15, 3:30-4:30 pm

Where: JW Marriott, room 502-503

Join SXSW Eco staff and friends to celebrate the 2015 season launch! Held each October in Austin, TX, SXSW Eco is a creative platform for disruptive leaders in technology, design, and social impact. Stop by to meet the team and learn how you can submit panel ideas, apply to launch your startup or design project, and get involved!

Cleanweb: The New IT Frontier

Date: Sunday, March 15, 3:30-4:30 pm

Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, salon A

Traditional cleantech plays have been too capital-intensive for traditional VC and angel investors, but with the rise of cleanweb – web-based technologies that reduce resource consumption – the space is much more accessible. Learn from leading investors what the early-stage opportunities are in the space and how to get involved.

Revolution is a Community Partner at our 2015 Startup Celebration at SXSW – we thank them for their support!

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.
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