Inside Web Summit Day One: A start-up’s view

Sam Amrani, founder of CrowdIt shares his opening thoughts on Europe’s biggest tech event – the good, the bad, and the access to investors

It was clear from the moment we stepped off the plane and into the taxi to the hotel that Dublin’s last Web Summit (at least for the next three years) was the hot topic of discussion across the city, if not Ireland.

The media has placed the conference – and its founders – at the heart of a very controversial media storm. It seems that both sides have been doing the most to antagonise each other and create something which ultimately is detracting from all the good that the Web Summit brings to the tech world as a whole.

CrowdIt exhibited on day one of the conference, and we were lucky enough to be placed right in the main hall, giving us the best possible opportunity to pitch to as many people as possible and show off why our service was better and more relevant than the gazillions that await attendees in the halls further away.

The Summit was claiming its busiest and best year ever, with over 40,000 attendees, but comparing other years of the summit, I’d be inclined to say the biggest events aren’t exactly the best. The quality of this year’s attendees has been a mixed bag, and the extra weight of attendees has resulted in the Web Summit curse of broken Wi-Fi to happen again.

Another controversy came in the form of the “Food Summit”. Traditionally, the Web Summit has made food free to attendees, which was a nice touch to a conference that is focused on supporting start-ups.

That ended this year with the introduction of a rather archaic tokening system, which resulted in the requirement to purchase effective food stamps for €20 per day or €50 for all three days.

This €20 meal did not consist of much and again has drawn some very harsh criticism from the attendees. Rather than grunt and complain about this and fork out money, I simply took an hour out from the chaos and purchased a rather nice meal for around €8 in a rather calm Dublin city centre.

On the plus side, the Summit folks have really outdone themselves on the investor side this year, making sure start-ups are getting the most out of their experience where it supposedly matters most.

Over the course of the next three days, I have managed to schedule no less than 10 investor meetings with funds that are relevant to my company and would be interested in what I have to say.

The Web Summit office hours programme is one of the main reasons I would head to Lisbon next year, but in order for me to truly consider this the ‘Davos for Geeks’, it needs to really fix the irony of no web at the Web Summit, and bring the focus and media attention back to the start-ups.

With one and a half more days to go, we can only hope that the internet is fully restored (or even better, boosted), and that the founders of Web Summit take the moral high ground and refuse to entertain the media’s latest attempt to continue the street fight they’re playing out with the Irish government.

Sam Amrani is the founder of social nightlife app CrowdIt: www.crowditapp.com

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