Texas forum a magnet for Irish innovators
Claire McHugh and Daragh Ward, co-founders of Dublin-based social television developers Axonista, completed testing on TVPal, their new platform for second-screen viewing, a fortnight ago.
This Saturday, McHugh will give an on-stage pitch for TVPal at South by Southwest (SXSW), the Austin, Texas, event billed as “the premier destination for discovery” in technology, film and music.
“This is it – we want to get it out there and bring it to international clients,” says the Axonista chief executive.
TVPal, which gives broadcasters control over branded “viewer companion experiences” on a second screen such as an iPad, has been developed in partnership with TV3, which will introduce the technology in May and is helping Axonista sell it.
As well as showcasing TVPal to a wish list of clients, the expanding Axonista (it is hiring five staff to add to its workforce of eight) hopes to use SXSW as an opportunity to raise funding for the company itself.
TVPal is the second-screen application of its end-to-end management system Ediflo, which has wider potential. “We have got other ideas about what to do with it,” says Ward, Axonista’s chief technology officer.
Axonista is one of 16 Irish start-ups, mostly working in the interactive tech sector, and 17 Irish music acts that are flying to Austin to showcase their wares and their melodies at the 10-day SXSW event, which kicks off tomorrow.
Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton is in the middle of his four-day trade mission to Texas involving 40 Irish companies, and will attend the SXSW start-up village on Saturday.
“The music industry can learn a lot from the tech industry,” says Finian Murphy, communications planner at advertising agency Irish International. Murphy, who made his SXSW debut last year, describes it as a way to “avoid the echo chamber” of Ireland.
Next Tuesday, he will co-host an SXSW discussion, Constructive Disruption for the Music Industry, alongside Irish Times music journalist Jim Carroll. The use of social media as a communications channel by music acts, and how this might fit in with the shift from recorded sales to streaming services, will be among the “disruptive” trends under the spotlight.
SXSW began life in the 1980s as a music conference, later evolving to include concurrent film and interactive festivals. “There is so much venture capital money floating around – the bands are almost the tail-end of the event,” says Murphy.
For companies such as Axonista, SXSW’s music industry origins still have their appeal, however. After a week of sales pitches, McHugh and Ward plan to wrap up their SXSW experience at a party thrown by a company they already count among their international clients: MTV.