Preparing your startup for SXSW? Below is advice from Joseph Kopser, CEO and Co-founder of RideScout. For more, join Joseph and other HATCH members for a Google+ Hangout on February 22.

GoingMyWay, now RideScout took second place at the Hatch Pitch competition in 2012. Largely because of the attention and credibility gained through our Hatch experience, the next month we secured seed funding to accelerate the development of our mobile app. RideScout is a mobile smartphone application that aggregates ground transportation ride options to allow users to compare and book or link to them in real time. Our goal is to provide ground transportation information and connectivity so intuitively and efficiently that consumers experience the same on-demand flexibility and reliability that they do driving their own car.

The Hatch Pitch experience itself was both nerve racking and very exciting. There were hundreds of people in the room as well as a panel of hugely successful experts that know their world. Waiting for my turn was the longest part. As I sat through each pitch I thought, "Wow. That is a great company.  That is a great idea. That is a great team."  But in the end, you would not have been selected as a finalist if you did not have a chance as well. When it was all said and done, the important piece is to relax, be honest with yourself and the audience and try to tell your story with passion and a deep understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Good luck and best of luck in your endeavor.

Your startup isn’t going to “accidentally” succeed. RideScout and my other endeavors get better each day because I’ve spent time learning from those around me. Most of that learning has been experiential and in the shadow of others, so it is only natural that I try to pass it along. People will be what they can see-- and I have been fortunate to learn from a lot of different people in the start-up ecosystem.

As a co-founder of a startup, you’ll be offered advice from a great deal of people, pamphlets, seminars, and conferences. However, the most valuable way for you to learn is by surrounding yourself with successful people. A good idea or product will only get you so far. Focus on people first, and then ask yourself, what do you hope to do next?  Don't be afraid to bring on people that see the future in a slightly different way than you do.  When you have that creative friction and diversity of opinions, the product and service improves.