Leveraging Authenticity for Entrepreneurship & Startups

How do consumers determine if something is genuine or manufactured – and are companies able to manipulate this perception to appeal to consumers and investors alike? Here we’ll be looking within the Entrepreneurship & Startups Track at sessions that explore the idea of authenticity.

Join founders and funders from all stages at the beginning of the SXSW Conference from March 8-12 to explore other sessions on this track. Discover how authenticity drives business and can influence consumers and investors in your favor.

Entrepreneurship & Startups Session Highlights

How Athletes Are Engaging Entrepreneurism

How do we as a society determine authenticity? We’re more likely to buy a product if it’s endorsed by an influencer as opposed to traditional advertising – which is perhaps why there is a clear trend of entertainers who are investing in startups. By lending their star power, and often their money, to brands – celebrities bolster the credibility of brands in the eyes of consumers, leading to greater success and higher profits. Join Joe Milam, Founder of AngelSpan, as he examines how companies are impacted when this works, when it goes wrong, and how the trend might accelerate in the future.

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Affecting Change Through Mission Driven Companies

Authenticity can also be cultivated through lived experiences – and these ladies serve as real-life examples – by taking adversity and making that the backbone of their mission-driven companies. After going through life-altering health challenges, they each founded and have since maintained their own businesses in the multi-trillion dollar wellness industry while maintaining a strong connection to their original mission and core values. Learn from Gianne Doherty, Founder and CEO of W.E.L.L. Summit, Ashleigh Frager, Founder and CEO of Back to Basics, and Indie Lee, CEO of namesake eco-friendly skincare collection Indie Lee, how to draw your entrepreneurial or life mission out of your own lived experiences – and how to channel that strength to change the world.

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From Cat Ladies to Cat-repreneurs

Passion can take our best-loved hobbies from general interest to an absolute obsession, garnering a level of authenticity through perceived expertise. As self-proclaimed “cat ladies” these women have done what many people have dreamed of doing – turning passions into professions – and yes, they all run cat-themed businesses. Hear from Juliana Carella, Founder and CEO of Treatibles, Susan Michals, President and Creator of CatCon, Dorian Wagner, Founder of CatLadyBox, and Colleen Wilson, CEO of Pets on Q, as they discuss how they made the transition into the pet industry and how you can, too.

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Acquisition Strategies: The Tortoise or the Hare?

Authenticity can also be cultivated after success – that is to say that people are more inclined to listen to someone who has already achieved success, hoping to receive wisdom that will help them replicate the success for themselves. In today’s market, entrepreneurs seem to start a company with the intention of being bought within a year or two – but for Ahmed Khaishgi, Co-Founder and CEO of SquareTrade, a buyout didn’t happen until after almost two decades of work – and when it did happen, Allstate acquired the company for $1.43 billion. Join him for a discussion about the value of staying true to the original mission of a company and providing a first-rate customer experience in a space all about selling fast. He’ll discuss how to build a successful global brand, the benefits of sticking around for the long-term, and how to overcome any roadblocks that come up along the way.

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The Art of Failure: Driving Creative Innovation

When fear of failure drives investors to stifle creativity and stunts creatives being able to take risks to pursue innovation, authenticity dies. Failure is inevitable but Sarah Ellis, Director of Digital Development at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Naho Matsuda, Artist at FutureEverything, Francis Runacres, Executive Director of Enterprise & Innovation for Arts Council England, and Dan Tucker, Curator and Executive Producer in Immersive Media at Sheffield Doc/Fest, worry that without supported opportunities to innovate, artists will struggle to compete with others in the entertainment and leisure market and might even become irrelevant in an increasingly digital world. Join this panel as they discuss how to support innovation and creative expression as it intersects with technology, in spite of the fear of failure – and how public funding can support this effort in a way that the private sector can’t.

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Giving to Grow and Receive

Being completely removed from a corporate structure can often give a perceived level of authenticity with consumers through a more direct connection with content going straight from creator to consumer – just ask Adriene Mishler and Chris Sharpe, Owner and Co-Founder, and CEO, respectively, of Yoga With Adriene. Together they founded the #1 yoga channel on YouTube as well as a thriving supplementary business that largely gives content to consumers for free. They will discuss how building a strong community around their brand has given them authenticity and the agency to create a successful business while giving away free content – and where they plan to go from here.

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Check out other Entrepreneurship & Startups sessions as well as other Keynotes and Featured Speakers like Arlan Hamilton, Kimberly Bryant, and Kristopher B. Jones and Damon Wayans Jr.:

Browse More Entrepreneurship & Startups Sessions

Enjoy primary access to all Entrepreneurship & Startups sessions as well as other Conference Sessions with a Platinum or Interactive Badge, and secondary access to most other events.

Crossover Track Recommendations

Learn more and unlock your badge’s full potential when you explore sessions on the other 25 Conference Tracks that relate back to Entrepreneurship & Startups:

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