It was a tough assignment but a Flubit team of eight brave souls made it over to Dublin this week to attend the Web Summit. It was a great few days with many interesting conversations had, some inspirational talks witnessed and a few pints of Guinness consumed.
The Flubit team share their experiences…
First Impressions (Gary)
My previous experiences of these type of events were conferences and exhibitions at the NEC, Olympia or Earls Court, which are frankly pretty soul destroying. But walking into the Web Summit you could feel the positivity, energy and excitement. It was packed for the whole time I was there and the noise emanating from the thousands of conversations taking place was at times deafening.
And unlike the usual events of this type you didn’t feel like you were going to be pounced on if you as much as made the slightest eye contact. It was a very relaxed affair with everyone open to a conversation and to new ideas.
As well as a whole array of start ups the event attracts some big hitters. I spent some time in the numerous different ‘theatres’ listening to talks given by the likes of Facebook’a Nicola Mendelsohn, the Co-Founder of Instagram and the GM of Pinterest. The content was fairly non descript – they are never going to share their inner most secrets – but they were inspiring and motivational.
StartUp City (Bertie)
I’m a founder, and a few years back I stood at one of the 1 metre cardboard stands at the Web Summit, and I loved it. Winning the Pitch competition made it extra special for Flubit. Back then 7,000 people walked around and asked questions. Today, there are now 5x the amount of startups and 5x the amount of attendees and it’s become somewhat of a Start Up empire.
Web Summit is the place you actually get to realise how many founders, every day, wake up and worry about all the same things as you do. Will you raise money? Will your metrics perform? How should you spend the money your clinging onto…. As I say, I’m a founder, not an investor, so it’s amazing walking stand by stand, witnessing all different forms of innovation, some ideas you think are great, some terrible – but ultimately it doesn’t matter you have 1,000s of startups you can talk to, and you know at least 1 will be the next big thing…
Start up Culture (Gillian)
Having been part of a Flubit for nearly 2 years, one thing that becomes evident is that a start-up culture is very “work hard, play harder” – and the Web Summit, a platform for new start-ups to get noticed and investment was no different.
Being the ‘Irish Representative’ at Flubit, I already knew it was going to be great ‘craic’ but the Web Summit took on a whole new level. Your eyes were constantly darting around to amazing sights; dancing robots with voice command, coloured sheep, a nervous looking man at the ‘Movember’ stand, and Guinness (lots of Guinness) to name a few! Not to mention, the enthusiasm exhibited by each of the stands was contagious. Each and every start-up I had the privilege of speaking to displayed a passion that reminded me why I love working at Flubit!
Meeting & Greeting (Adel)
I enjoy meeting people and learning so for me the Web Summit was all about networking and having some interesting conversations. I was fortunate to bump into Edwin Catmull, founder of Pixar, in the Investor Lounge – although I didn’t know who he was at the time!
I also met the Founder of Connecterra, the winners of ‘Alpha Startup’ competition, who provide cloud based monitoring technology for the dairy industry – something which is definitely not sexy but tackling a much needed problem. I managed to speak to a huge number of start ups. I’m sure lots will succeed but in reality there was a lot of similar concepts and only a handful doing truly groundbreaking things.
The speakers were really diverse and so much beyond just tech with a range of sporting legends, such as Rio Ferdinand and Chris Froome in attendance.
Information is meaningless (Andy)
There were literally hundreds of presentations and talks across the three days and it was hard to know which to prioritise. However, Beau Lotto’s talk on the neuroscience of perception was really enjoyable and pretty extreme in terms of innovation.
He argued that information is meaningless without individual human perception and demonstrated this with a series of lol-worthy videos and optical illusions. One of his products is a secret digital messaging app that allows users to leave big, floating, augmented-reality bubble gifts for one another to discover. I’m just trying to figure out how we can incorporate this into Flubit’s upcoming mobile app… 😉
The power of Data (Isaura)
It was great to listen to the “big hitters” talking about the importance of data on everything we do. However, we need to pay attention and make sure the data we use was acquired, prepared and analysed properly before we use.
It was also very interesting to visit the Big Data stands to see what other companies and start ups are using data for and how. From collecting their own data to asking users directly or by installing devices (one company has installed GPS devices on buses to collect information about their routes) or by scraping different web pages to obtain the data they need.
Food Summit #foodgate (Bertie)
So how I wonder, with so much apparent focus on data and maths to organise queues of people, match people to each other, and make networking possible, how did the Web Summit forget the most important lesson in the book when it comes to crowds… “Don’t let them get hungry -or go stingy on the food?”.
€20 for small box of festival food became the focus of conversation at the event and on Twitter, and not for the right reason. WebSummit claimed it got you more, but very few found the extra cake promised. Why not build lunch into the price of the ticket? People are already paying £500+, an extra £30 12 months prior won’t raise an eyebrow… then give ‘free’ food at the event and become heroes… I guess we’re left asking, “why?”
So to summarise, apart from the food situation, the Web Summit 2015 was a an impressive event full of inspirational people and ideas. We’d recommend it to anyone who is involved in start up, tech or business generally to attend. It’s not cheap but there is truly something for everyone and if you go with an open mind and a desire to speak to lots of people and learn then it will be a very fruitful and enjoyable experience.
We’re looking forward to Lisbon 2016!