Inside Web Summit Day Three: It is what you make it!
How do you get the most out of Europe's biggest tech event? Start-up founder Sam Amrani completes his diary of the Web Summit with some tips
After two days of talks, patchy WiFi, and investor meets, the rest of the conference experience was positive. The one thing Web Summit does especially well is to keep everyone energised and motivated throughout – even in the dying hours of the final day.
Thursday was reminiscent of the mad Christmas shopping rush, with people frantically trying to see everything, do as many last minute deals and networking sessions as possible. Despite all the controversy and chaos, the conference concluded positively with everyone looking forward to Lisbon in 2016.
With large scale conferences (which Web Summit has quickly become), there is a degree of pre-planning to be done for any start-up to get the most out of it. Aside from the general gripes such as food summit (aka €20 burgers) and the lack of consistent WiFi, attendees can still have a transformative time at the conference.
To any start-ups who want to go next year, I thought it would be useful to give some conference hacks to get the most out of your experience, regardless of what track you’re on.
Keep on top of the email collateral and plan ahead
There is A LOT of collateral online, both through your inbox and on the site. Some emails do head into spam occasionally and most of them have some pretty handy/critical information for attendees, and suggest lots of key opportunities that you could miss if you didn’t pick them up quickly enough. There are a lot of first come first served opportunities in the Web Summit, and you’ll only have yourself to blame if you miss them.
Make sure you are aware of the schedule and plan ahead. Fight your way to the front of the talks, and make sure you manage to get a good understanding of who is going to be there. Very basic things, but if you don’t do them you risk damaging your experience.
Get in front of investors
It’s the key time to do so, and Web Summit has office hours – which is your key opportunity to get involved. They distribute time between investors either at the request of the investor who has done their research (the best way), through the Web Summit algorithms that make suggestions based on data or by start-ups finding a contact at Web Summit and (politely) asking if it were possible.
The guys at the Summit are probably the most dedicated staff I’ve seen at a conference and will truly do all they can to make it happen. Tip: don’t ambush investors on their way to lunch on the street, as I’ve frequently seen; it doesn’t typically go down well.
Unlike most conferences, the Web Summit gets start-ups. They understand the fact that they’re like excited puppy dogs who want to get their products / services seen no matter what.
When you have 3,000 of them in the same vicinity, this can get chaotic – but they love it! They don’t mind start-ups trying to make their way in the world and doing all the hashtag grabbing things they can to get noticed.
Make the most of it, and do something to get noticed. CrowdIt was lucky enough to get noticed by TechCrunch as one of its 21 most interesting start-ups, in no part probably due to the fact that we gave out hundreds of cupcakes – some of which were in places like the centre stage (right in the middle of a talk), which helps you get noticed!
Stay open minded
Like the university freshers’ week, everyone there is new(ish) and willing to talk, so this gives you the opportunity to showcase your business to everyone. But be equally as receptive to others who wish to do the same. You never quite know who they might be or who they might know – even if their business may not seem relevant, it’s highly likely they’ll know another start-up who might be perfect. It’s a small network.
By no means comprehensive, but these few tips will see you through a much better Web Summit experience. By getting noticed, making contacts and showing investors why you’re the next big thing, there is no reason why you wouldn’t come back to Web Summit time and time again.
Sam Amrani is the founder of social nightlife app CrowdIt: www.crowditapp.com