Thread's Ian Rosenberger

Two forward-thinking Pittsburgh companies are in the running as potential programs for the 2015 SXSW Interactive Festival. But they need your PanelPicker vote to rise to the top.

Deeplocal and Thread are vying for highly-sought presentation spots at SXSW. The conference, held annually in Austin, Texas, is the premier event in the country for cutting-edge technologies and companies and promises great exposure.

Deeplocal has pitched a talk called “Culture Clash: When marketing and products converge.” The session would bring together an eclectic group of speakers—Google Marketing’s Tyler Bahl, Deeplocal’s Nathan Martin, Hallmark Card’s Ann Herrick and Contagious Magazine’s Nick Parish.

The rigid division between product and marketing departments is breaking down, driven by the need to constantly innovate, says Heather Estes of Deeplocal. As a result, marketing teams are becoming innovation groups, where radical new concepts are developed and tested on large audiences.

“The panel’s dynamic will be interesting because of the varying perspectives—a 100-year-old traditional greeting card company (Hallmark) to a disruptive innovation studio (Deeplocal) to a search giant (Google.) Each organization has their own process for developing innovative prototypes and products and connecting them to online.,” Estes says.

Pittsburgh-based company Thread International, a social enterprise that’s converting trash in Haiti into usable raw materials and fabric, has proposed another session called “The Internet of Things is Garbage—How Big Data Will End Waste.” 

“It’s amazing that in 2014, in a time when we can tag and sensor everything, we still have goods made by 11-year-olds that cause cancer,” says Ian Roseberger, CEO of Thread.

Thread is teaming up with the Ty Montague, the founder of a growth and innovation accelerator in New York City, for a session on how entrepreneurs and companies can leverage the right information and save the world.

Selection for the SXSW conference is extremely competitive. More than 3000 speaking proposals were received, only a small percentage will be selected. So every vote counts.

While the public votes only count for 30 percent of the selection decision, PanelPicker is a smart way to get the word out on these panels, says Estes.

“It’s challenging to get a proposal selected by SXSW but it’s a really great platform for us and great for our clients, too,” she says.

The voting closes on Sept. 5.

Deb Smit

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.