SXSW: Chevy Eyes-Free Siri Integration

Chevy Hand-Free Integration
Demo of Siri Eyes-Free Integration in the new Chevy Sonic

One cool thing we saw at SXSW was how tech is being incorporated into our vehicles so we can use our phones and apps even while we’re driving. We got a chance to get a demo from Chevy in their new Sonic, a compact car with their MyLink system. The MyLink system is basically their in-car entertainment system. But what’s new here is that it links up to your phone, so you can use your iTunes or apps like Pandora through your car screen. That means no fiddling with your phone when you’re supposed to be driving!

If you have Siri (iPhone) or Nancy (Android), you can also use that through your car to make calls right from your steering wheel, which means you never have to take your eyes off the road, because it’s all voice activated. Siri can also send and read your text messages. And since your phone plugs into the car, you don’t have to worry about Bluetooth battery drain. We’ll be posting more about in-car tech in action, but for now here’s a demo of Siri at work in a new Chevy Sonic:

SXSW: How Merchants Can Accept PayPal Payments With a Smartphone

PayPal Here and Wallet appsLots of companies are working on ways to use smartphone payments to streamline the ordering process. PayPal’s entry into the market is particularly interesting, since so many people have a PayPal account already. Plus, their app isn’t tied to ordering from a specific establishment (like paying with your phone at Starbucks). Instead, PayPal’s app could let you order just about anywhere.

From the customer side, the app is called PayPal Wallet. The merchant app is PayPal Here, which lets merchants accept and send money.

So how would it work? Check out the demo video below from SXSW. You use your phone to “check-in” at a destination, which automatically lets a merchant start a tab for you. The example below is ordering drinks, but it’s easy enough to imagine lots of possibilities for the app in the future!

CC Chapman at SXSW: Amazing Things Will Happen (If You Work At Them!)

CC Chapman at SXSWMany of you may have already seen our SXSW interview with CC Chapman. But it’s worth reposting here, because he talks a lot about something that’s important to all of us: how to get where you want to go. As he says in the video, it’s not enough just to be unhappy with what you’re doing: you have to make changes if you want to make progress, and those changes take hard work.

One great point he raises is that if you know where you want to go, you can make an action plan to get there. That means trying to work backwards from your end goal, and setting up concretes milestones (with deadlines!) you think will get you there. But starting from the end result is key.

It’s also important to remember that your plan will change along the way: it’s important to be flexible and respond both to positives and negatives that may come up. That may mean changing your plan slightly to accomodate a new opportunity that presents itself, and it also means constantly evaluating what you’re doing: if it’s not working, it’s time to change the plan!

For more info on CC Chapman, check out his new book Amazing Things Will Happen or find him on Twitter at cc_chapman.

Three Lessons in Brand Marketing & Activation from SXSW

chevy sxsw brand
Chevy at SXSW. Courtesy

South by Southwest, especially the interactive portion of the festival, is all about brands. They’re there to get your attention, either as sponsors, party hosts, service providers or more. The tough part is competing for eyeballs in a space crowded with other brands out to do the exact same thing. Sure, that’s true in the marketplace all the time, but SXSW is a distilled, concentrated version of the attention problem. We were there, we saw what worked and what didn’t, and we’ve got a couple takeaways you can apply to any brand marketing opportunity for your small business:

1. Have something to say

The most successful companies at SXSW timed their participation with a major product, app or feature announcement. It’s not enough to show up: there’s got to be something to catch everyone’s attention. That’s especially true if your audience knows you already: giving them something new gives them another reason to pay attention to you again!

Read More

SXSW: We’re Going and We Want to Help You

sxsw logoA couple of the Mario Armstrong team members will be heading out for SXSW at the end of the week. In case you’re not familiar, the interactive part of the South by Southwest festival is basically the biggest tech tradeshow/party of the year. It’s also a place where new companies and startups go to try and make a splash, so it’s perfect for scouting trends and new services. We’ll be there, and even you aren’t going, we want to bring you the news and updates you’re curious about.

This is your chance to get info from the front lines of SXSW without actually having to stand in any lines! Check out their lineup of keynotes, featured sessions and workshops, and let us know which ones you’d be curious to hear about. You can leave your requests here in the comments or get us on Twitter at smbizgomobile. We’ll do our best to bring you the coverage you want!

This App Gives you Superpowers! Interview with Banjo CEO Damien Patton @SXSW

At #SXSW I was able to take a quick minute and shoot some video using Socialcam of the CEO of a hot new location-based app called Banjo. If you’ve been following me here on this website, then you probably saw the CNN piece I did recently about location-based apps, so you know how excited I was to talk to Damien about Banjo. More excited to talk, however, was Damien who claims that Banjo gives you “Superpowers.” Curious? You can grab Banjo for yourself from The App Store or Android Marketplace.

Can an app make waiting at the airport more fun?

Waiting and airports and frequent flights are a necessity for many in the business world these days. But can an app make the wait more tolerable? A hot new app that’s getting a lot of buzz here at #SXSW is called Zamp, which aims to do just that. A location-based app that let’s you connect with fellow travelers at the airport, “>Zamp could really help to make that time spend sitting around the airport more productive. What do you think? Is this a service you would use? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Crowdfunding is hot at this year’s South by Southwest: Here’s Why

Crowdfunding isn’t a particularly new idea—ever since it was possible to take payments over the Internet, organizations and individuals have been using their online audiences to fund myriad projects, from entertainment like movies and theatre to tech products like solar energy. But websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo provide platforms that really change the way people thought about crowdfunding projects. No longer do entrepreneurs and artists need to create their own web sites and manage their own credit-card processing. Now with an idea, a great video, and some promotion, a great idea can go from pipe dream to fully-funded reality. Read More


We are pleased to work with Ramon Ray, CEO and editor of, journalist, and technology evangelist, to bring you our new Small Biz tips on Wednesdays. Each week we’ll be sharing videos and articles featuring hot topics, products and trends in small business.

Real Estate Company Uses Mobile Technology to Attract Customers

A Boston real estate company is harnessing a type of mobile technology to make it easy for home buyers to access its properties’ MLS information on the spot. It’s called texting.
Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, an independent real estate company with 200 agents, realized it needed to cater to the next generation of home buyers who are tech savvy, and who often prefer to do their own research before speaking with an agent. Read more…

Consumer Technology Can Help Your Business. Just Be Careful

This weekend, I’ve been at South by South West (SXSW) . The exhibits, as expected, showcased dozens of companies offering a variety of tools and services for location based mobile services, video, photo and more. Many of them were not specifically for the small business market. However, I believe that many of them can be good testing grounds to consider how you might leverage the technologies (such as mobile marketing) these new services represent, in your business. Read more…