How to Host a Minimum Viable Party at SXSW


As an entrepreneurial VC, and founder of a financial services company, Duck9, I do and recommend things that disrupt. So I hold one opinion that runs very counter to Seth Levine’s recent post “I’m getting sick of the bullshit,” which boiled down to an indictment of the party scene at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

You see, I think VCs should do what their LPs want them to do. Get in and get dirty. I learned this at numerous LP annual meetings I attended. My opinion is that you as a founder should get into SXSW this weekend and promote something at a party that you and your co-founders produce.

Here is where you-the-novice are going to think I am off the deep end. I think that a SXSW party should take less than two hours to execute soup to nuts, beginning to end, alpha to omega. Two hours total.

MVP usually stands for Minimum Viable Product, but for today’s purposes it stands for Minimum Viable Party. If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t worry about the best parties to go to. Worry about executing a MVP. Executing a MVP differentiates you and your founders from the masses because executing is tough. Hosting a party at SXSW is a big, big challenge that most people aren’t up to.

If you are a set of technical co-founders, this is the exact recipe that I teach at ENGR 145. Reading my piece on launching at SXSW for $460 will help, but this is all new content now revealed in technicolor detail:

1. The Jump Program

Remember the scene in Matrix when Morpheus mentors Keanu Reeves to jump from one building to the next?

Well, this Minimum Viable Party with the Most Valuable People is your jump program. Except that instead of your being Keanu Reeves, you are you. I am not Morpheus. I am Larry Chiang. I springboard and accelerate you like Morpheus 2.0 because I am giving the first 15 mentees real physical space (606 E Third St, Austin TX. Blog your RSVP and link to it from the comments down below). Yes, I will help you execute. This leads me to point number two:

2. Set a time limit of 120 minutes.

This whole party development thing takes just two hours. The majority of it is writing your minimum viable blog post (MVBP) and making sure you’re in the first 15 comments to this Xconomy blog post. A MVBP is 12 sentences, 2 pictures and one focus. Its what they teach you at Stanford Engineering.

Here is a case study. Here is another case study. Here is a video if you don’t read so good.

3. Spend 15 minutes to do the basics of a “minimum viable party”:

• Do a hand written Pinterest page

• Copy and paste up an Eventbrite page

• Put up a Plancast page

• Order food ($120 in cupcakes, $50 in French toast supplies)

• Pre-blog your minimum viable party

• Invite a few people via Facebook events

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Larry Chiang is CEO of Duck9 and teaches Engineering 145 as a Stanford Entrepreneur in Residence. He has a fund called "Larry Chiang Stanford G51 Fund of Stanford Founders." Follow @

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4 responses to “How to Host a Minimum Viable Party at SXSW”

  1. steve says:

    Larry after reading this post I went back to some you wrote on Gigaom. Thanks for keeping a unique angle to your writing.. I’d take an original Larry any day over typified autistic tech.

    Enjoy those cupcakes and have a good sxsw

  2. Is this article in regards to SXSW 2013? I am hosting a few events during Music and would jump at the chance to add to it and expand into interactive as well. What’s next?