AUSTIN, Texas — Are you someone whose ears perk up at the mention of freebies? Well, there are a few heroes walking among us at SXSW, and they’re willing to give the people what they want.
“It takes everything we have for a few months, but it’s worth it,” entrepreneur Chris Cates said. He and the “Dirty Team” have just put the finishing touches on this year’s SXSW mega cheat sheet.
“It’s funny to me that still to this day, people have heard of what we’re doing,” Cates said. “We go out and there’s a city of people using this tool.”
The founder of When Where What Austin, which is also a social marketing and event-planning startup, is talking about “The Blueprint,” a super list containing more than 1,000 free events at this year’s festival.
When Where What Austin founder Chris Cates and the Dirty Team have been creating free event lists for Central Texans for almost a decade. (Spectrum News 1/Dylan Scott)
“Doing something and expecting nothing in return has led to so many good things as just being the hub of information,” Cates said.
Even after a decade of doing it all from both the free and platinum badge sides, this event still draws Cates in.
“The spontaneity of SXSW, where you might be on East Cesar Chavez and Anderson Paak is serving burgers at a diner late night,” Cates said. “There’s always something appealing about being in-the-know of that.”
Longtime SXSW Co-President and Chief Programming Officer Hugh Forrest knows the feeling and commented there’s always a place for locals and visitors alike.
SXSW Co-President and CPO Hugh Forrest said there are a number of free concerts and events taking place the next two weekends. (Spectrum News 1/Dylan Scott)
“Certainly, a ton of free things to do even if you don’t have a badge,” Forrest said. “Great shows coming to Auditorium Shores, and next week there’s a lot of free content. Something for everyone.”
An Austinite himself, finding a way to appease those near and far is a vision the festival, which began in 1987.
“It’s always a work in progress,” Forrest said. “I think we have a pretty good balance, but I think we can always improve on that.”
As for Cates, he’s built a blueprint in turning fun into good fortune for more than 300,000 followers and it’s a model he’ll continue to share.
“The delicate balance of identity and community with open-mindedness of what’s to come is where we live,” Cates said.
Those interested in signing up for the free SXSW guide can click on the link here.