In food and beverage PR, it is essential to keep up with the movements within the industry and first thing first is to be sure to stay updated in the city where your agency is located. Here at Konnect Austin, we are happy to have had the opportunity to represent our agency during the most exciting week of the year in this city, which is none other than South by Southwest.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is a local, week-long festival that is dedicated to appreciating technology and the arts including movies and music. Throughout the years, SXSW has grown to be a very popular event that has gained the attraction of many brands with food and beverage brands heavily using it as a tool to establish brand awareness and connect with new consumers.
Now that you have a snippet of SXSW, we are excited to share that we were able to attend Spoon University’s first Brain Food event in Austin. Brain Food is often in New York with a purpose to share the lenses of the future of food with others, but the media group decided to participate in this year’s action down south to expand the knowledge.
During the event, we indulged in amazing Austin foods including NadaMoo’s dairy-free ice cream, Siete’s chips, Primizie’s pita chips and much more while mingling with influencers and local business owners. The excitement was in the air from the moment we walked in, as we were welcomed by gift bags packed with new better-for-you products that were also showcased at this year’s Expo West. After we mingled for a few more minutes, we took our seats to prepare to listen to the panels of the day.
We were welcomed by Mayor Steve Adler of Austin because what better way to be welcomed, right? He kicked off the event with a welcoming speech, sharing where Austin now stands in the food and beverage industry.
According to Adler, Austin went from being the 32nd fastest growing city in the country to be the 11th. This is exciting because it means the future is exceptionally bright for this city; however, he shared that because of that, the city’s main struggle is battling affordability, and this can affect many businesses as well as employment due to the cost of living. Despite this, he holds pride in Austin being an amazing city because regardless of the struggle, this city is built by accepting failure in ways other cities don’t with the doors always open to take risks, start over and succeed. As he mentioned this, he leads by saying that the breakfast taco is the symbol of Austin, and it all started because owners of food trucks took a risk and believed in the city. From then, food trucks have evolved to becoming popular and successful restaurants and overall brand, turning Austin into the city that leads innovation in the food and beverage space.
Following Adler’s opening speech, the founders of Spoon University shared the two topics for the panels – secrets to scalability and technology and innovation in the food space.
Within the panel featuring the secrets to scalability were strong and successful women including the following:
- Ellen Bennett, Founder of Hedley & Bennett
- Laura Aiden, Founder of Prohibition Creamery
- Veronica Garza, Co-Founder and President of Siete Foods
- Joi Chevlier, Founder of The Cook’s Nook
The conversations in this panel were so interesting and we learned a lot about the thought that goes into building a successful company and the mindset that one must have to produce results. Below are the points that were favorite takeaways.
- How to realize you have a company and not just a product?
- “Find a name and brand that resonates with customers” – Veronica Garza, Siete Foods
- “When you have a purpose you can make anything happen and you have to love what you’re doing or everything would be a challenging” – Ellen Bennett, Hedley & Bennett
- How to implement growth?
- “Fit the market with services needed in the city and find the best team” – Joi Chevlier, The Cook’s Nook
- “Be prepared for success and have the resources when demand increases” – Laura Aiden, Founder of Prohibition Creamery
- “Learn and fail quickly” – Ellen Bennett, Hedley & Bennett
- “Listen to your team” – Veronica Garza, Siete Foods
- Speak on the culture of your company and how important it is.
- “At Siete, we consider our employees part of our extended family and our motto is family first, family second, business third” – Veronica Garza, Siete Foods
- “The Culture and the way the company is managed is a reflection of yourself” – Joi Chevlier, The Cook’s Nook
Following, the executives of a few companies entered the stage to discuss technology and innovation in the food space. The panelists included the following:
- Jon Carter, Chief Digital Officer of Snap Kitchen
- Genevieve Gilbert, Managing Director of Sku
- Dan Brooks, Director of Brand Communications of Vital Farms
- Robyn Metcalfe, Director of Food + City
This section of the event went pretty fast, so we just want to share our top takeaways. All the panelists agreed that overall transparency is key to implementing technology into the food business. Our favorite response to the idea of transparency was Dan Brook’s perspective as he mentioned: “if you have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” Finally, as businesses grow, more and more consumers are in search of personalized foods and leveraging technology is the key according to Robyn Metcalfe.
As the event came to an end, we found such inspiration and learned a lot about the food space. We would recommend this event to anyone interested in learning more about the food and beverage space or anyone who is working towards owning their own business. Believe me, you will gain inspiration and the courage to work towards your goals to become successful even further!