Five of us trekked to Austin Texas recently to enjoy the often bizarre experience known as SXSW Interactive. Our group spent quite a bit of time networking with peers and attending the festival’s wide array of sessions. Although much was learned about “transmedia,” natural language processing, mobile apps, and best practices in design and development, the most unique two hours were competing our own Top Chef University iPad app against seven other mobile apps at AppCircus@SXSW.
The competition was held at Circus Mashimus, an open to the public space created by Mashery in the Austin Convention Center. Resembling “the big tent” of a circus, popcorn and all, the event was strictly high tech with its furnishings and numerous HD displays promoting the apps. The competitors represented several continents and an interestingly diverse set of functionality ranging from using dial-tones to send URls to an app that helps you figure out who at a party might be interested in you. With a format that brings “speed dating” to mind, each competitor had a minuscule three minutes (including a one minute video demo) to present their app.
Our own Jim Cook got in the ring as our pitchman and did a fabulous job. Although we do have a bias, he killed it with a succinct but clear articulation of the Top Chef University iPad app’s features. The one minute video delivered, without words, a clear vision of the app’s features and user experience. Finally, Jim unflinchingly handled the jury’s two minutes of grilling questions with great finesse.
The app did not win the competition but scored incredibly high. A couple of jurors intimated that it was their top choice, but the jury felt the app didn’t need the boost that winning the competition would provide. Winning was a hope, but not an expectation, as the loss didn’t sting since everyone acknowledged it as a winner.
We couldn’t be more proud of Mission Data, the app, or Jim. Overall, SXSW delivered on its promise of providing us with a glimpse of the new, as well as quite a lot of fun.