It was my first time at the Web Summit. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve attended various conferences over the years, but Web summit is not like a conference.
There is a constant buzz and movement of people, with all the pros anc cons that it brings. It’s intense and can be a little overwhelming too.
I spent most of my time there bumping into strangers and standing in queues (40+ ladies in front of me once, in line for the ladies’ toilets) and it took me a while to place myself and find my way around places. But I suppose that is to be expected if you consider that the organisers need to accommodate 50k+ people, with different needs and cultural expectations into the same place.
People adopt different approaches to how they want to experience the summit: just high level networking, attending talks, or creating deeper working relationships to take beyond the summit. There is perhaps a place there for the undecided. I think I might fit into that category.
When I needed time to sit and readjust, the Women in Tech lounge proved to be a great space for that.
It was a great idea to make the centre stage talks available on big screens outdoors. Being on the farthest point from the entrance, it was tricky to get there and then back in time for other sessions so being able to just pop in to the food courts and watch the centre stage sessions there was great.
The wi-fi was disgraceful, which was a real shame. For the three days of the summit I never managed to get reliable wi-fi coverage, not even using the 5Ghz connection, which was only available on my iPad anyway. Obviously, people started using their mobile phones’ hotspots, which in turn meddled with the wi-fi, making it even worse.
With Web Summit moving to Lisbon for its better capacity to cope with larger crowds (among other reasons), they better tackle the wi-fi issue before expecting to get 80,000 attendeed. It also affected some of the start-ups exhibiting on the site, as they didn’t have internet access to demo their products.
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They offered a 20% discount to Web Summit attendees and I even got a special invite to a party sponsored by them.
Santa Casa is a 500 year old not-for-profit organisation. It was represented at the Web Summit, advertising its digital social innovation competition, aimed at associating new technologies with social development and welfare of the population.
I was particularly fond of this start-up. ShareMy is a platform to enable people to live a more community-led lifestyle, by providing options for people to make services or goods available to the locals. For example, if I have a swimming pool that is barely used, I can make it available for classes at a fee. This would be appealing to people who prefer one-to-one tuition, for example, and cheaper than using a gym or club swimming pool.
In addition to that, they do that keeping bees’ welfare in mind. After all, who better than bees to teach us how to live in community?
If you sign up, you’ll be given a buch of wild flower seeds to grow on your garden (or anywhere you choose, really), and once you become an established user (after a certain number of transactions), you’ll be sent a little bee house, which can be placed in a garden or balcony, and allows bees to nidify there.
This start-up caught my attention with the words ‘evidence-led’.
They developed a system aimed at CEOs to enable them to gather data and information from various areas of an organisations (departments, CRM, etc) and run analysis and reports on it.
The interface is very clean and seems straightforward to use. This looked like a collaborative tool aimed at senior managers, that provides a holistic view of what is going on in an organisation.
I like it.
Farfetch is a Portuguese fashion company, with a flair for technology and creating an amazing working environment for their employees.
They had a really fancy stand at the Web Summit and run a little slot machine, giving away some pretty cool prizes.
They have offices in various places, including London, and are recruiting, so it is worth taking a peek at their website.
I’m including this one here because I thought it was an interesting concept. These guys create custom riddles.
If you’ve worked in the software development agile world, this name should be familiar.
Atlassian was promoting various of its products, including the good ol’ Jira, and giving away cool socks.
Moo is known for creating those cool tiny business cards. Even though they offer other marketing products, their business cards are their most creative and unique product, in my opinion.
Particularly appealing to all those UX Unicorns out there.
This initiative started with a woman who suffered severely from depression and other conditions, until she was diagnosed gluten free.
A simple search on a search engine will show that people have different opinions and theories on gluten intolerance, but there seems to be an increasing awareness of the potential nasty effects of a gluten rich diet.
Helping you to epic sh*t.
A French web app to help people find construction-related service providers and enable a smooth interaction between the clients and the companies.
Overall, attending the Web Summit was a very positive experience. It provided me lots of material to think about, plenty of new people to make connections with, and a really fun nightlife experience.
For companies who can’t afford to send their employees to an event like this, why not spare a room and some time aside for people to watch the sessions’ videos together and then discuss?
And for everybody else out there, most of the sessions (if not all) will be available online. It really is worth watching some of those.