Our recent conversation with Tim Mask about the state of startups and innovation in Mississippi helped us better understand current challenges for the Magnolia State. But what was more striking about the chat was about what was going on in the communities to move beyond the challenges to build opportunities for those currently working in Mississippi, as well as those that are just getting started. Take, for instance, the Base Camp Coding Academy, a free developer bootcamp for high schoolers in North Mississippi.
If you’re still a bit curious and/or skeptical, perhaps taking a quick road trip to Fondren, Mississippi (right by Jackson), on March 31 and April 1, to attend Sandbox Live may be a way to get a better picture. A festival inspired by SXSW’s lineup, the weekend brings together tech, music and film in one place. You can get more details on their website, but here are just a few of the many reasons why we think a weekend trip to Mississippi would be worthwhile:
It’s practically free.
The tagline that keeps coming up is “Content is free. Booze and food are not.” And that is quite true. Saturday’s content programming between 10am to 10pm in the Duling Auditorium is free to attend, as well as the Friday night hackathon. The all-access passes, which start at $20, give you admission to the formalized networking events, as well as additional discounts on food and booze.
There’s also a free outdoor ‘silent film’ screening of “The Wizard of Oz” on Friday night. You’ll have to pay $10 if you want the headphones to get the audio.
It benefits a new coding school in Jackson.
Jackson’s high school seniors will soon be getting a new training option in software development with the founding of Sandbox Prep. The proceeds from the weekend will be directed to bringing the program to reality.
The programming goes beyond simply celebrating and networking.
Startups events can so often become a giant mashup of cocktails and business cards, but Sandbox Live definitely brings in speakers and panels that get to topics that are not necessarily fun to talk about but are part of the reality. For instance, the panel hosted by Rethink Mississippi will address ways to stem the brain drain in Mississippi.
One film that will be featured at Sandbox Live is “Mississippi Left Me Out”, a short documentary on the effects on the people of Mississippi as a result of the state’s decision to opt out of ACA’s Medicaid expansion program. Director Roderick Red will also be speaking after the screening about the film and the film industry in Jackson.
All that Jazz.
There will be two opportunities during Sandbox Live to catch some jazz quartets in action.
Meet some Mississippi startups.
Among the startups that will be showcasing their product are: Finaius, a AI-powered financial research platform; Marketect, a solution for investor outreach and reporting; Padrick: a member management platform; Cattlog: an ecommerce platform for the stockyard industry; and FitMate: a social fitness network. (We’ve previously written about Fitmate Social’s use of brand ambassadors.) Many are part of Mantle’s incubator program.