"To change something you must start something"
In the middle of Austin Texas
Nearly one year ago in March 2017, Panasonic Appliances Company, which handles home appliance business, sent members of the Game Changer Catapult, involved in creating new business initiatives, to join the enthusiasm of South by Southwest Innovation Festival (hereafter, "SXSW") in Austin, Texas.Panasonic House @ SXSW was set at the SXSW as a way to promote new value and business models aimed at the future of home appliances within the Food/Lifestyle/Wellness fields.
Where do we start?
The Game Changer Catapult provides a launch pad for game changers who bring about innovations in life and culture. It's an Accelerator Project started in 2016. There are a variety of ways to proceed open innovation, where intellectuals from different areas join to create new values. However, how we start things at a large company such as Panasonic is a bit different. We began with finding diamonds in the rough internally, searching for hidden business ideas, and then provide support to accelerate the polishing of these gems. The next step is to promote the idea to a number of possible collaborators outside the company and work together to create new value. In this way, we selected SXSW as a stage to showcase our ideas.
At SXSW we were happy to find that more visitors than expected came to our booth, bringing yet more media coverage. People often ask 'Why did you take part in SXSW?' There are two solid reasons. First, SXSW provides us a venue to discuss the various social issues we face from a global viewpoint. Although we're mainly active in Japan, we cherish a global perspective in everything we do. Visitors to SXSW hail not only from North America but also, in large numbers, from Europe, making this a unique hub for discussions. The second reason is that it is the ideal venue to present an embryonic concept for global discussion, rather than a place to showcase a finished piece of technology. Our goal in participating in SXSW was to develop a prototype rather than bring a business idea to completion all on our own. Furthermore, we wanted to receive feedback and find a variety of partners to work with. SXSW started 30 years ago as a music festival, but it has evolved to encompass a variety of themes, including movies and education, making it an extremely appealing venue.
The three "E's" discovered at SXSW
We discovered three distinct "E" keywords by participating in SXSW. The first was 'Encounter.' Each day, nearly 2,000 visitors came in touch with our ideas, resulting in truly unexpected and promising encounters. For example, some hotel managers came to view the AMP. It is not an exaggeration to say that such encounters helped solidify our marketing strategy for this project.
The second E keyword is 'Empathy.' One project is DeliSofter, for example. This is a meal preparation appliance for those with dysphagia, or trouble swallowing. Many people empathized with the need for DeliSofter, including families with persons in their care and those from the caregiving industry, giving us a needed push to proceed to the product planning phase of this concept.
The final E word is 'Engagement.' At SXSW we were able to engage with people from a variety of backgrounds. This engagement led to participating in other exhibitions and building relationships that led to new business ideas, thus leading to even further action.
So What's Next?
This year we plan on attending SXSW again. We're taking new projects which have experienced rapid cycle from ideation to prototyping in last 6 months,, projects with incorporated feedback to update projects from last year, as well as revealingsome projects arising from the various and wide-ranging initiatives taken at Panasonic. "To change something you must start something." At Panasonic, we always keep these words firmly in mind, and we are ready to jump into the next wave of enthusiasm for new concepts, always excited to find new friends in this endeavor.