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Get to know a BASHH gal: Kerissa Bearce

“My first BASHH was when it was still called BATHH.

Tell us about your first BASHH – how did you hear about it, end up there, and how did it go?”

“My first BASHH was when it was still called BATHH. It was at Union Park I think, and I’m pretty sure there’s an Annie Ray picture by myself depicting it. I was terrified, but I had seen online you and some others talking about it. So I signed up to be a person that walks around and tries to interact with other people.

So for my first BASHH, I had already given myself a job so that I wouldn’t stand around awkwardly not knowing what to say. It was still awkward but at least it gave me a reason to walk up to people and see what they were about.”

“A good way to force yourself to adventure out of your comfort zone.”

Since you volunteer at BASHH and are so well ingrained in the community now, what keeps you coming back?

“About 3 years ago, I found myself in a situation in Austin where I had about one friend. I wasn’t sure whether to leave the town and never look back or throw myself into finding friends. What ended up happening was that through Twitter, I met my entire new friend group. We even have a hashtag for ourselves (#htm).

So I was so excited to meet all these new friends, but the problem was we kept on hanging out with each other and no one else! So I really keep coming to BASHH to meet new folks. I really see the power of Twitter not in just business, but to enhance your personal life. I wouldn’t still be in Austin, this city I love so very much, if I didn’t meet that original group.

I continue meeting people through Twitter at BASHH and just around, “oh we follow each other!” and I don’t find it weird. I love how BASHH does that. It’s so many different kinds of people with different agendas, but a good way to force yourself to adventure out of your comfort zone.”

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A BASHH connection that kept a cool project alive

What connections have you made at BASHH that has been the most meaningful and successful to you?

“For the past 6 years, a friend and I have kept an online Google doc of all the free and rsvp parties for SXSW and it started to get really out of control. Too unorganized, too many people, not really searchable or usable. So this past year, we launched SxShhh which is a more organized way to list the parties. We really wanted to focus on music – the list of parties is searchable by band, so you can see every free or rsvp party your favorite band is playing. You could also create a customizable schedule and it kept track of what you RSVP’d to.

We paid someone to build this site and very quickly after launch, we realized the site was breaking. I don’t know much about websites, but my business partners did. The site was poorly coded and was falling apart. I had met Stacey (@staceykface) through BASHH and she had an account. Her boyfriend Karl (@ktiedt) saw the site and had the skills and understanding of what was happening to fix it.

So he contacted me and worked with my business partners and fixed the site. Just because he wanted to. Just because he liked a challenge and saw some local Austin kids trying to make something cool and he could help fix it. We couldn’t have done it without him and are super proud of what he helped us create and fix.”

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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