March Magic Memories: Andrew Hyde

The Forrest Four-Cast: November 16, 2017

Andrew Hyde has a passion for community, writing, travel and startups. He founded Startup Weekend, three other startups and was employee #1 Techstars. With roots in freelancing and design, he can hold a conversation about best interface practices as well as how to build cabins with hand tools. He is also a marathoner, Ironman competitor, blogger, event organizer and frequent SXSW participant. He started Ignite Boulder, TEDxBoulder, Startup Weekend, Startup Week as well as many smaller events. Most recently he wrote a book named “This Book is About Travel” which reached the #1 sales slot for iBooks and Amazon’s travel sections. He is a co-owner of his favorite cafe in the world in Trident Booksellers and Cafe in Boulder, Colorado.

In 20 words or less, what is the main focus of your current job? is a 501c3 non profit that produces events like TEDxBoulder, Ignite Boulder and Boulder Startup Week. Also spend a lot of time volunteering for friends companies.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?Outdoor school instructor.

How do those career aspirations from your younger self connect to what you are doing now?
I moved so that I’m outside almost everyday living in Boulder, Colorado and do my work at cafes and coworking spaces giving me great connection to nature and wonderful people. I call that a win.

Over the last few years, you’ve done an incredible amount of traveling. Where is your favorite place to visit?
I rarely go back to places but Baja is a tough place to not go back to. Short flight, amazing culture, stunning culinary creativity and Mezcal.

What place didn’t you expect to like — but were completely surprised by in a positive way?
Colombia. Brunei. Myrimar. Romania. Not sure how much that has to do with what the countries stand for or the experiences I had being there. Would I recommend that you travel to a car park in Timisoara for a 3am EDM party with everyone handing flasks around filled with homemade plum wine? Not really. Did I have one of the better nights of my life? Absolutely yes.

What place did you expect to like — but it didn’t live up to whatever the hype was?
I remember seeing a fight breaking out in Taiwan at the National Museum with a jade exhibition. Someone cut the line to see the jewelry through the magnifying glass and there was lots of people involved in the fight. It was one of the few times I really saw strangers showing real hate towards one another… and it was at a museum over seeing jewelry. I went to Nepal in January trekking outside in amazing cold, which wasn’t the smartest. There is hype in every country and if you travel a lot (I’ve been to 80 countries) you get sucked into having these perfect days in _____… which in reality don’t ever live up to what you thought it would be, and that is the point.

For less experienced travelers than you, what is your best tip for a fun / successful / fulfilling getaway?
You can have that experience of travel in your home city. The trick is to have the curiosity and enthusiasm to make your day full of adventure and unknown. Leave your wallet at home and play off of people and opportunities that present themselves one day to test this out. It doesn’t take a plane ticket, although that helps.

Boulder is still home, right? How has the startup boom in Colorado changed the city (positively or negatively) in the last few years?
Boulder is the best place in the world to come home to. I love it here but also love traveling from here. The startup boom in Colorado has cooled down a bit. Boulder is a weird place in our politicians say things like “there are too many high paying jobs here” so being in tech or someone that cares for others I feel a bit out of place, and so do a lot of companies. There is a great fight on if we should be the great Suburb or City of Boulder.

Lots of people say that Denver is what Austin will be like in 20 years. Agree or disagree?
I always hate these comparisons. I think Austin is more of what Denver will be in 20 years.

Has legalized marijuana improved Colorado?
Yes. It was a bold move by the voters and I have not seen much downside.

Are you bullish on the entrepreneurial opportunities opening up in the cannabis industry?
Huge opportunity but huge risk. I helped out a CBD hemp company which, although it was legal in 50 states couldn’t advertise on google, facebook, reddit, you name it. Many of the cannabis startups operate in cash and have their own private security. It feels like the wild west.

What’s the last great book you read?
Just reread “Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey.

What’s the last great movie you saw?
Muscle Shoals. If the question was what SXSW Film screening did you see and have to watch again it would be Free Fire.

What band / musician you are listening to most these days?
Today was filled with Zoe Keating, Sturgill Simpson, Michael Franti, Milk Carton Kids, and is spiraling out of control with 90’s country.

What is your favorite type of exercise these days?
I rode my bike across the USA this year (San Diego to Jacksonville) and now work out by participating in marathons watching Netflix.

What are you most passionate about at present?
Today I’ve had several conversations about if there is really such a thing as ‘the good old days’ or if we just have differing levels of experience and romanticism about yesteryear.

What startup are you most excited about at present?
I’ve taken a step back and now can laugh that there are startups building ICO’s to launch other ICO’s and then spinoffs to help in the effort. I love small projects with teams that like working on solving real problems for the long term.

In your mind, what is the most overrated tech trend at present?
Bitcoin / Blockchain.

In your mind, what is the most overlooked tech trend at present?
Bitcoin / Blockchain.

How / when do you first find out about SXSW?
I heard stories on NPR of the Music festival. My friend Danny Newman told me about it at a BarCamp. It was 2005 and it was mostly known for Music but Danny told stories about everyone that was doing amazing things on the internet being there.

When was the first year that you had a badge for the event?
I saved up and purchased a badge for 2006. I went to the first event on the schedule, which was Break Bread with Brad (who passed away years later, RIP) and met my first friend Ariel Jatib in line for a drink. We both read the same stories on the internet! It was an oasis. I remember when “the speakers” came into the room.

Over the various years that you have attended SXSW, who has been the most memorable speaker and why?
Kathy Sierra and danah boyd are my most memorable in that they taught me something that changed how I work. I remember Baratunde Thurston and Zach Klein on a panel where they riffed off each other for an hour of comedy gold.

What do you think will be the big trend / big story at SXSW 2018?
I think the return to small will once again be big. I see a lot of niche platforms and products being created as well as a consumer base that doesn’t want ‘big.’ I’m also hoping that friends I’ve met over the years have breakout hits from people that they helped in years past.

What’s the best way for startups to leverage the SXSW platform?
With events I produce I always say “being an amazing participant is more valuable than an amazing speaker.” One of my favorite jokes to tell at SXSW is “hey, did you see that marketing over there?” If they look I can assume it is their first year. The best marketing tip I learned in 2009 from Gary Vaynerchuk walking around the halls seeing people is to say “good to see you again.” You want to be big at SXSW? Make some friends. Help others out. Be that amazing participant.

You have been involved as an emcee in the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event for the last few years. What is your most outstanding memory from your experience with that event?
Last year, one of the winners was onstage doing their thank you speech and when they completed it they gave me a hug and said they only realized they could be an entrepreneur after attending a talk I gave a while before at Startup Weekend. Then they asked if we could all sing happy birthday to his 4-year-old. We did.

What do you think SXSW will be like in 5 years?
Bigger. More crossover by attendees (do the Interactive folks realize how cool the Film crew is)? Hopefully the startup crowd will slow down and enjoy it more by pitching less and figuring out what makes everyone, from so many places around the world, dream.

Other installments of the March Magic series include interviews with Brad King, Gary Shapiro, Chris Messina, Yuval Yarden, Jenny 8. Lee, Aziz Gilani and whurley.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

Help SXSW help the Red Cross with Hurricane Harvey relief by donating here.




Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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Hugh Forrest

Hugh Forrest

Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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