Hugh Forrest serves as the Director of the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Scheduled March 13-17, 2015 in Austin, this event brings together more than 30,000 digital creatives from across the United States and around the world. These digital creatives are inspired by five days of panels, presentations, brainstorming, networking, deal-making, socializing, creating, innovating, and fun. Forrest was named "Austinite of the Year" in February 2012 by the Austin Chamber of Commerce (along with fellow SXSW Directors Roland Swenson, Louis Black and Nick Barbaro). In addition to his work at SXSW, he is part of the National Advisory Board for the Poynter Institute in St. Petersberg, Florida.

Forrest majored in English at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Before joining the SXSW team, he founded a small alternative publication called The Austin Challenger and wrote for several other newspapers.






 



Kendra Scott
Founder and CEO
Kendra Scott Jewelry
Kendra Scott, Founder and CEO of Kendra Scott Jewelry

In 2002, Kendra Scott combined her love for fashion with her creative talent and began her own line of jewelry out of the spare bedroom of her home. Her initial investment in the company was a mere $500, but combined with her design talent, passionate determination and fearless selling skills, Kendra Scott Design Inc. has become a multimillion dollar company sold to retailers around the globe such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom as well as her own stores in Austin, Beverly Hills, Dallas, Houston Scottsdale and with many more to come.x



Chad Dickerson
CEO
Etsy
Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy

Chad is CEO of Etsy, an online marketplace for unique goods. Under Chad's direction, Etsy raised $40MM in May 2012 in order to accelerate growth internationally and expand offerings to Etsy's community of independent, creative businesses. Etsy also became a Certified B Corporation™, publicly committing to grading ourselves for the long term based on employee, community and environmental interests. Prior to becoming CEO in July 2011, Chad was CTO of Etsy.
From 2005-2008, Chad led Yahoo!'s Brickhouse and Advanced Products team, and the Yahoo! Developer Network. Notably, Chad created the Yahoo! Hack Day initiative, the first internal innovation program for engineers and developers of its kind. The Hack Day concept has been adopted by organizations ranging from small startups to governments to large public companies.
Before he joined Yahoo!, Chad held various positions at media outlets including InfoWorld Media Group, Salon.com, CNN, CNN/Sports Illustrated, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Through mostly self-taught web technology expertise, Chad was an early advocate for the power of the Internet as a disruptive platform for information delivery. Chad holds a BA in English literature from Duke University.




Leon Chen & Tiffany Taylor Chen
Co-Founders
Tiff's Treats
Leon Chen & Tiffany Taylor Chen, Co-Founders, Tiff's Treats

Leon and Tiffany started Tiff's Treats in 1999 as sophomores at UT, out of Leon's college apartment. They took the business full time upon graduating in 2001 and have remained the  the CEO and COO, respectively, since that time. The company currently has 13 retail locations throughout Texas with two more under construction and employs over 250 people on staff. The pair were married in 2010 in Austin, Texas and currently reside in North Austin.





Doug Guller
Founder and CEO
ATX Brand
Doug Guller, Founder and CEO of ATX Brands

While Doug is perhaps most famous for Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, Austinites also enjoy The Parish, The Parish Underground, The Historic Scoot Inn, Pelons Tex Mex, 609 Trinity, 508: Tequila Bar, Chicago House, and The Zorro Food Truck as well as the Austin Santa Pub Crawl and Operation Turkey. Doug Guller grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended Villanova University. After visiting Austin in 2005, he knew it was his next home. Seven years later, Doug Guller has made an indelible mark on the Austin restaurant, bar, and live music scene.





Rod Favaron
CEO of Spredfast



Sam Decker
CEO of Mass Relevance
Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast
Sam Decker, CEO of Mass Relevance

On the heels of their head-turning merger, Mass Relevance CEO Sam Decker and Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron — both tech veterans who came up at industry giants — will discuss how and why they brought their two Austin-based companies together. Mass Relevance develops front-end social media campaigns and Spredfast develops the back-end products to measure the effectiveness of social media.





Alan S. Knitowski
Chairman & CEO
Phunware, Inc.
Alan S. Knitowski, Chairman & CEO, Phunware, Inc.

Alan runs the fastest-growing company on the ABJ's 2013 Fast 50 list and one that sits on Forbes' list of the most promising companies in America. His company is on the cusp of the mobile revolution. Alan is a successful serial entrepreneur with multiple exits over a 15-year period to companies including Cisco Systems, Level 3 Communications and Internet Security Systems (now IBM). He is a 2014 Finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for Central Texas and has been a founder, executive, angel investor and fund manager throughout his career in the private sector after serving in the United States Army as an Airborne, Air Assault and Ranger qualified Captain in the Corps of Engineer.





Steve Leveen
Chairman &
Co-Founder
Levenger

Steve Leveen, Chairman & Co-Founder, Levenger

Steve Leveen is the chairman and co-founder of Levenger, a consumer products company whose overarching purpose is to create meaningful products for professionals. Levenger was founded in 1987. Come hear Steve's story in a compelling interview with ABJ Editor Colin Pope.