Shawn Michael O’Keefe. Dad. Cyclist. Maker. Space cadet.
Innovation director. Startup coach & mentor.
After fourteen years as a producer and strategist for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, I relocated to Wellington in 2015 to head up the first hardware accelerator in New Zealand, Lightning Lab Manufacturing.
After working with Creative HQ on innovation programs such as the R9 Accelerator, a unique GovTech initiative to solve real-world issues between business and government, I returned to Texas in early 2018.
Most recently working with the Army Applications Laboratory (part of Army Futures Command) on its innovation efforts, I'm currently consulting with my new entity, 1st Assembly Supply Co., and working to bring a new kind of hardware innovation program to Austin. I also head up innovation for the B Corp, CODE Éxitos.
While I didn't know it at the time, my journey into technology began with a guitar. I grew up performing and touring with various indie bands (the most well-known of which was American Analog Set, while the most recent endeavor was The Paper South). The process of creating music and promoting bands led me to fall in love with emerging digital technologies and design. After my tenure as a musician and audio engineer in the ’90s, I finished up my Radio-Television-Film degree at the University of Texas at Austin – focusing on convergent media in the innovative and unconventional Advanced Communications Technologies Laboratory (ACTLab) before joining the SXSW team in the year 2000. The years that followed are difficult to encapsulate, but this oral history of SXSW Interactive provides a nice overview.
I occasionally speak at business, tech and design events across the globe and have presented at The Austin Forum, C’n’B at c/o Pop, Eurosonic Noorderslag, Futur en Seine, Ignite Austin, MTO Summits, Myriad, TEDxBoulder, WebVisions, Wired Italy’s Smart People & Smart Cities and more.
When not working, I like to launch rockets with my two kids and race my bicycle around the block.