Inside Web Summit Day Two: Alpha, Beta, START
Sam Amrani, founder of CrowdIt on the issues Web Summit has solved, where the real business happens, and his $2m seed round
Day two of the Web Summit was a little less controversial than day one: the general hope that the founders of the summit would start to quieten down their spat with the Irish government came true and thankfully the focus (in most part) returned to the start-ups.
We were not exhibiting yesterday, so we were free to dive into the chaos that was the rest of the exhibition. It became abundantly clear that the Web Summit has indeed gotten way too big for the RDS arena and its surrounding buildings. The scale of the event has resulted in some serious overcrowding.
The talks throughout the day were only slightly better than average, especially when compared to last year. The worrying thing here is that bigger crowds should generally bring higher profile speakers, but the biggest draw of day two was the CEO of dating app Tinder, Sean Rad.
Whilst his talk was generally enjoyable, it wasn’t exactly inspiring and the moderator did not do enough to get anything of true value out of the conversation. I was personally hoping for a comparable talk to the fantastic fireside chat Peter Thiel gave last year.
Unfortunately, the structure of the Web Summit start-up tiering system, which is made up of Alpha (the youngest), Beta (those who are growing) and START (those who are potentially market leading), left many attendees confused and therefore unable to really understand what kind of company they were looking for. I was asked by three different investors on Wednesday what these categories mean, which isn’t exactly encouraging.
The tiering system also works on an arbitrary basis – meaning there can be some Alpha companies that have receives 10x funding over a START business. On the way into the conference I met an Alpha company that had received $5m funding for their charity web extension, whereas on the stand next to us on the Tuesday was a START business that had just closed a round of $1m.
This start-up would therefore be given more exposure, kudos and coverage than a company that is, at least on paper, far more valuable.
The saving grace here is the night summit, where the real business seems to happen; everyone is on a level playing field and if you know where to go, any start-up can find themselves in the best company to find future partners, customers or investors.
It’s amazing how fast news travels in the tech community; CrowdIt announced its $2m seed round earlier that day and by the time we got to the Night Summit events, everyone knew!
Sam Amrani is the founder of social nightlife app CrowdIt: www.crowditapp.com