SXSW touches on virtual reality porn and drones

Irish man Trevor O’Shea talks about MVP, a pub set up on €5K

Now in its 22nd year, the SXSW Interactive event opened the overall festival in Austin with a smorgasbord of tech, business, science, gaming etc.

At times the event felt overstretched and too dominated by brands but it did offer many insights into what the future may hold.

Head of Google X, Astro Teller, wowed the crowds with talk of driverless cars and delivery drones.

The Future of Porn is 3D Virtual Reality was an oversubscribed discussion that seemed to excite and disgust commentators in equal measures.

Computer programmer Stephen Wolfram spoke to a huge crowd in the main Exhibit Hall of the Austin Convention Centre on what wouldn't be considered the sexiest of subject matters. Still the audience "oohed" and "aaahed" at all he had to say about coding.

Gender equality, or lack thereof, in tech was a central theme of many talks. But the issue also crept into other events billed to be about something else.

Even though Megan Smith, United States chief technology officer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy was supposed to talk about "How Innovation Happens", many questions from the audience related to why there weren't more women in tech.

Millenials with an entrepreneurial spirit were a key target audience. So there was more than their fair share of get-rich-quick schemes. Failure as the key to success was an entrepreneurial tenet peddled a little too often.

Still there was some sound business advice too.

Meath man Trevor O'Shea – of Twisted Pepper, Bernard Shaw and more recently MVP pub fame – participated in a talk entitled Minimum Viable Pub – How to open a pub on $5k. O'Shea offered some refreshing advice on how businesses start. While other business owners put their best foot forward, O'Shea was not ashamed to admit that frequently mistakes are made and corners cut to get a new place up and running. "You're always faced with choices on what you can and cannot do – so you have to decide what is the minimum you can get away with to make sure a new business opens on time," he said.

It’s not all about talks though. The stealthiest attendees avoid the mountains of free food and rivers of booze being dished out in every bar, restaurant and venue in the city, to engage in the serious networking opportunities. Those who shot business cards out like ninja stars left SXSW Interactive with lots of good contacts and future opportunities. Those who didn’t left with nothing but a free tote bag and a hangover.