Welcome to Austin Inno’s list of top SXSW panels and events. This list includes mostly sessions that require a SXSW badge for entry, although be sure to double check event websites for opportunities.

And you can spot free events here.

Here, you’ll find a day-by-day list of what we believe are the most interesting and valuable events for entrepreneurs. You can also subscribe to The Beat newsletter to get daily highlights of interesting events, SXSW developments and, of course, all of the Austin startup scene’s most important news.

Our SXSW 2018 list includes several sessions tied to blockchain, which is one of this year’s most dominant tech themes. We’ve also spotlighted William Hurley’s (AKA whurley) much anticipated discussion of quantum computing, including the launch of his new startup, Strangeworks. And you’ll find one talk where Tim Ferriss will discuss psychedelics and how they could play a more prominent role in medicine. Meanwhile, we peppered in a few more relaxed opportunities — because no one wants to hit a panel discussion every hour.

There’s plenty more. So dive in and create a list of favorites on SXSW’s scheduling site.


Let’s Tech the Borders Down

Why: It might have a bit of a confusing name. But the story of Techfugees is one that shows the power of social media in building movements across borders.

When: Friday, March 9, 11 a.m. -12 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

The Texas Startup Manifesto

Why: We’ve written about this movement out of Capital Factory to connect accelerators and ecosystems in Texas’ largest cities. And a lot has happened since then. This explains how the UNION platform is helping it happen.

When: Friday, March 9, 2-3 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon C

Third Coast: Can Austin Be The Next Big Tech City?

Why: You read the title, right? Come hear BigCommerce CEO Brent Bellm, Aceable CEO Blake Garrett, HomeAway CPO Tina Weyand and 512Tech Writer Lori Hawkins talk about the city’s future.

When: Friday, March 9, 5-6 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon K

SXSW Startup Crawl

Why: It’s a big party across a bunch of cool offices. Sure, there’s some networking and a lot of startups to meet. But it’s most a damn good time with a lot of free food and drink.

When: Friday, March 9, 4-8 p.m.

Where: Various places

ATX Startup Crawl Party Pics: Cool People, Killer Offices



Why: It’s Saturday, so kick it off with something chill — but interesting.

When: Saturday, March 10, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: 98 Red River (It’s a parking lot)

Death and Legacy in the Digital Age

Why: We’re all going to die. And we all have Facebook profiles. We could do better? Frog Design’s Rebecca Blum breaks it down and looks at how we deal with this.

When: Saturday, March 10, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Where: JW Marriott Salon D

Christiane Amanpour on Sex & Love Around the World

Why: Sex is interesting, and Christiane Amanpour and Kara Swisher are two of the best journalists of our time — they’ll be discussing the new series on CNN.

When: Saturday, March 10, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

Sound Ventures Presents PerfectPitch

Why: Read our story headlined “This Might Be SXSW’s Most Star-Studded Startup Event.”

When: Saturday, March 10, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Where: Hotel Van Zandt

Digital Natives Disrupting Time-Honored Industries

Why: Four Austinites on one stage. Next Coast Ventures’ Mike Smerklo will be joined by founders of two of his portfolio companies, Julia Cheek of EverlyWell and Eric Korman of Phlur — as well as Joah Spearman, founder of Localeur.

When: Saturday, March 10, 5-6 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Room 400-402


Beyond SpaceX: The New Space Ecosystem

Why: Because space tech is moving fast (pun intended). And Texas is one of three states with the biggest lead in the industry. Also, did you know Cedar Park-based Firefly Aerospace is back at it after shutting down over a year ago?

When: Sunday, March 11, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Where: Fairmont Manchester EFT, 101 Red River

Arnold Schwarzenegger Joins POLITICO’s Off Message

Why: Everyone wants to see the Terminator, right? No? OK, keep looking.

When: Sunday, March 11, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon H

Interactive Keynote: Melinda Gates

Why: What would you do with one of the world’s biggest fortunes and its brightest minds? This chat centers on new business models and how we redefine work.

When: Sunday, March 11, 2-3 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

Melinda Gates and Michael Dell Will Be at SXSW This Year

The Future and Science of Psychedelics

Why: Tim Ferriss, a well-known author and new Austinite, takes on the topic of putting mushrooms and other trippy substances to work in a productive way. He’s joined by Roland Griffiths from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.

When: Sunday, March 11, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon H

2018 SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event Awards Ceremony

Why: It’s an intense event and the winners will likely go on to successful futures. Austin’s Bob and Robyn Metcalfe are joined by Andrew Hyde for the awards shindig.

When: Sunday, March 11, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon AB

Out-of-Town Startups to Watch at the SXSW Accelerator This Year


Diplomacy vs AI: Foreign Policy, Bots & Blockchain

Why: Because blockchain tech is bigger than Austin and bigger than the U.S. If these decentralized systems are to function, they’ll need help from the centralized.

When: Monday, March 12, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Where: Palm Door on Sixth

Blockchain & the Impact of a Decentralized World

Why: I know, we just suggested a blockchain panel before this. But this one is different, and it’s a big enough topic to justify another hour. Journalist Logan Hill takes the stage with filmmaker Alex Winter and producer Kim Jackson to talk about a new documentary.

When: Monday, March 12, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Room 16AB

SXSW Cities Summit Startup Spotlight

Why: The Austin Technology Incubator knows a lot of about energy. So does Austin Energy, which is getting an increasing amount of our power from renewable sources — with the goal of 100 percent.

When: Monday, March 12, 4-7 p.m.

Where: Four Seasons Terrace


Food System Innovations, Session 1

Why: We all care about food, and, increasingly, people care about where it comes from and how the plants and animals we consumer are treated. Startups are at the forefront of overhauling our food systems, and Food+City has three sessions (this is the first) to hear pitches from companies from Austin and around the globe. So, if you dig this one, catch the other two.

When: Tuesday, March 13, 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon C

Just Press Go: Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars Are Here

Why: Holy smokes, let’s get these driverless cars on the road already! Waymo’s John Krafcik will sit down with VICE News’ Evan McMorris-Santoro to talk about the future of travel.

When: Tuesday, March 13, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

Convergence Keynote: whurley

Why: After selling Honest Dollar, whurley has been working on a book about quantum computing — as well as founding a new startup called Strangeworks, which is launching later in the day.

When: Tuesday, March 13, 2-3 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Ballroom D

Answer with Action: A New Activism Platform

Why: Environmental activism is a foundation in Austin politics — and the world may need it now more than ever. John Goodwin and Lisa Myers from Patagonia is joined by Elizabeth Segran of Fast Company and Darlene Lee of the Earth Law Center for a discussion about activism.

When: Tuesday, March 13, 5-6 p.m.

Where: Westin Austin Continental 3


SXSW Trade Show

Why: If you haven’t hit it up already, take the morning to dig in and pick up swag and ideas and job tips along the way.

When: Wednesday, March 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Austin Convention Center Exhibit Halls 2-4

Blockchain & The Crisis in Healthcare

Why: Healthcare seems in need of a massive overhaul. How will blockchain play a role? Find out how patient identity may change things — at least a bit.

When: Wednesday, March 14, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Where: JW Marriott Salon E

UT Austin’s Best Undergrad Startups

Why: Learn more about the most under-the-radar startups at UT. Jan Ryan, Suzi Sosa and Cas Milner introduce them in a pitch event.

When: Wednesday, March 14, 2-3 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin Salon A

Music Startup Spotlight

Why: As SXSW transitions from interactive to music, what better way to take the corner.

When: Wednesday, March 14, 4-6 p.m.

Where: Hilton Austin 4th Floor


$100,000 Blockchain Investment Challenge

Why: You’ve learned a lot about blockchain by now at SXSW. Let’s hear some pitches and see a $100K winner. Richard Garriott, Tiana Laurence, Manoj Saxena and Stephen Wolfram judge the pitches.

When: Thursday, March 15, 2-4 p.m.

Where: JW Marriott Salon E