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Turn Your Illness Into A Weapon | Thank you SXSW | Savvy Cooperative | #AskPatients

While it is only my second year, SXSW has quickly become my favorite conference of the year. Not because of the concerts, celebrities, or the men on hovercrafts with boas around their necks, but rather because of the plethora of ideas that are discussed across a variety of mediums.

I go to a lot of conferences throughout the year. Conference season starts in September and goes straight through till June. The vast majority of the meetings I attend are healthcare-focused, and usually in over-air conditioned hotel meeting rooms with endless powerpoint decks.

I imagine that if you go to that many conferences in any industry, you start to hear the same things over and over again. I’m not saying these things are wrong or even bad, but you start to create an echo chamber, and with it the danger of excluding new ideas, or worse, the sense that we’ve solved all the problems.

What makes SXSW so special

The healthcare folks who do attend SXSW are innovators. Some of my favorite people working to shake up the industry are in attendance. It is great to connect outside of the business casual events and build even deeper connections with those who are fellow trojan horses in healthcare. The collaboration and opportunities that come out of SXSW are incredibly exciting!

And while I love the people in attendance, one of the big draws of SXSW for me is the chance to go to sessions and events outside of healthcare. For the good of our co-op, I want to maximize my learnings, be inspired, and bring back ideas that can help us think about some of the tough questions going forward.

I attended sessions on design, branding, tech, entrepreneurship, social justice, and the future of work. I also believe in the arts and their ability to convey important ideas in powerful and creative ways. I listened to filmmakers, podcasters, musicians, comedians and learned how they conveyed their messages through their mediums.

Here’s what I’m chewing on…

So with that, here is my hot take on some themes and questions I’m thinking about after SXSW. Each deserving of a deeper dive, so I will give some highlights here and unpack these in the coming days in their own blog posts.

Capitalism in a Woke New World

  • Are capitalism and profitability dirty words?
  • Who gets access to capital?
  • How might we use capitalism in a radically powerful way?

Trust & Empathy are the New VR & Blockchain

  • Why are soft skills so en vogue in a hard skills world?
  • Is earning trust more important than the product itself?
  • How might we infuse empathy in business practices?

Programming Human-Beings Into Technology 

  • When do people want to talk to humans vs talk to a bot?
  • Are people the enemy of efficiency, and if so, is it worth taking them out of the equation?
  • How might we stay focused on humans in a tech-enabled world?

I had an incredible time at SXSW and am so grateful for the people I met and the opportunity to be present and learn from other change makers. I recognize this is a huge privilege, and can’t wait to go into more detail on the above so everyone has a chance to benefit from ideas that were shared.

So stay tuned…

Savvy Cooperative accelerates the development of patient-centered products and solutions by providing a gig economy marketplace for patient insights. Companies and innovators can connect directly with diverse patients and consumers to participate in market research, user-testing, discussion boards and co-design opportunities. Using a unique co-op model, Savvy Cooperative is the first patient-owned platform that empowers patients to use their health experiences to advance research, resources and product development. For more information about Savvy Cooperative, please visit and follow Savvy Coop on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Jen Horonjeff
Post by Jen Horonjeff
March 14, 2019
Jen Horonjeff, PhD, is a life-long autoimmune disease patient and brain tumor survivor turned human factors engineer, academic, FDA advisor, and now the founder & CEO of Savvy Cooperative.