Editor’s note: Tom Snyder, executive director of RIoT, the Raleigh-based Internet of Things users group, salutes a delegation of Raleigh and Wake County representatives for their efforts to represent the N.C. capital at South by Southwest.
RALEIGH – Of course I’m biased. But I go to a ton of trade shows and conferences and few have as many place-based booths as South by Southwest. Entire countries had booths to promote cool tech coming out of nations. Cities across the US were showcasing the benefits of living in their borders.
Typically, there are two plays in the “economic development as a booth” playbook. One – fill the booth with companies, typically startups, from your region with a group of kiosks, posters and prototypes. Two – fill the booth with stats and handouts of the favorable measurements of your region. Both these approaches tend to fall flat. The first creates a bunch of disconnected pieces that don’t coherently tell the story of the place. The second is wholly uninspiring.
Raleigh stood out with perfect, center-floor positioning and a huge mural and neon sign to draw the crowd. The Wake County Economic Development team supported local businesses that did have a connected, meaningful position within the larger booth.
There was a natural flow for discussion as visitors approached.
There were ways for people to actually engage, to have a drink, to take a photo, to participate online.
It was a connected story between the municipal government and small business hosts, that demonstrated the collaboration that we know is a strength of the region.
IoT is about connecting all our devices and things. Economic development is about connecting all of our people and companies.
Kudos to the team for really differentiating their approach and showing how connected North Carolina is.