WebSummit 2015 has come and gone, and apparently it’s a wrap for Dublin. At least for the next edition, Europe’s hottest tech conference will be taking place in Lisbon. For those of you who weren’t in Ireland last week, this decision has been surrounded by an enormous unrest in the Irish media, along with speculation around Paddy Cosgrave’s persona, so much so as to reach the proportions of a full blown scandal. There are many articles you can read if you want to dig in deeper.
My two cents on the matter: the only difference location is going to make will be for the actual location. For all those flying in from the rest of the world, flying to Dublin or flying to Lisbon doesn’t make any difference. It does for the city that is going to be hosting tens of thousands of attendees willing to spend their money in hotels, restaurants, pubs, gadgets, souvenirs, trips and tourist attractions of all sorts. I tried doing to math with some friends and we came up with a very conservative figure of 50+ milion euro spent during the WebSummit event ridden week alone.
But before we look into the future, I’d like to tell you a little about how the 2015 edition winded up. The short answer is “awesome“, as it always is. As for the long answer, there are a few points that deserve a little bit more detail.
The rapid increase in attendees during these last few years has been greeted with much excitement and well deserved pride by the organizers. However, the sheer volume of people makes it impossible to even see everything, let alone talk to everyone. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time, making the “WebSummit” an abstract concept, something that each attendee experiences in very different ways. It’s probably what makes it the rich event that it is, but it can get challenging at times.
There were many celebrities around the conference, and those of you who know what a massive Game of Thrones fan I am will understand my excitement when I heard that Irish actor Liam Cunningham would be doing a press conference. I couldn’t go away without some photographic evidence.
Let’s get to the shining stars of the show: I’ve talked with quite a few startups this year, tried to read descriptions of many more, and was even surprise pitched on the spot while wandering through the RDS. Some of these you will see soon in the Interviews section of this website, others I found present a fundamental issue: they’re trying too hard to turn niche specific strategies into tools without considering B2B in their revenue streams.
What I mean is that they try to become the “killer app” and set their goal on customer acquisition and B2C, which is of course not wrong. What I think is lacking is their understanding that most of the times their goal should be getting into business with companies which might find their idea interesting to integrate in already existing systems, both as investors and as business partners. This would bring benefit both to the company (which finds itself holding a valuable piece of modern technology in their hands) and the startup itself (which has the security of funding and the stability of solid ground to stand and expand on).
One of the questions two young startuppers asked me was: “How do we choose our sales and marketing manager? We have the budget to hire someone, but we don’t know what to look for. We’re developers.” Of course: these guys are not HR specialists and don’t have a degree in psychology nor the experience needed, but they do face a true challenge, and one that I believe is insufficiently addressed at the moment.
I’ve seen investors in disguise as attendees, new-to-this-market investors who need guidance in choosing the right startup to fund, successful startups which have now grown into flourishing companies and many truly inspiring young talents. You can see there’s a fire in their eyes that keeps them going, and that fire excites me as nothing else does.
Were you at the Summit? What were your thoughts about it?
Let me know in the comments!