Some months ago, while I was going through my e-mail, I’ve noticed a subject line – Free Women in Tech tickets for Web Summit. Being a Startup Associate at Girls in Tech Macedonia, I double checked this information and even though it was so many months in advance I got my ticket and started planing my journey to Lisbon.
Web Summit (originally Dublin Web Summit) is a technology conference held annually since 2009. Just as the first industrial revolution 250 years ago left an indelible mark on the lives of the people who lived through it, tech is turning upside down everything we thought about work, social interaction, politics and life itself. There is no longer such a thing as a ‘tech’ industry – just industries that have been affected by tech – as stated on their web site.
So this was the first time they are organizing it in Lisbon and the first time they are trying to tackle the gender gap between attendees on conferences. Mainly in this past year, I have attended startup events and conferences in different countries in Europe and the biggest one so far, for me was Pioneers Festival in Vienna with 5000 attendees, where they also had a women in tech initiative. And yes, the fact is that when you see the whole picture, you will see mostly men. So, kudos to Web Summit for providing this opportunity, since there are a lot of women in tech out there!
Three day event, with more than 50 000 people attending it, amazing key note speakers on several different stages and a pretty tight schedule. I wasn’t sure of what to expect, so I decided to go with the flow and organize my time with the help of their mobile app (which was working smoothly).
Sunday afternoon, arriving at the airport and you can already see how much Lisbon will live and breathe the Web Summit spirit this whole week. Branded signs everywhere, registration tent at the airport metro entrance, everything well organized, only the locals were caught by surprise with the overload of people coming from all around the world.
The official opening of Web Summit 2016 happened on Monday evening with full arena and many people left outside to watch the live stream. Luckily we checked out their FB live video and didn’t went to the arena, since Monday was a day for sight seeing and learning more about Lisbon (yes this was my first time and I just fell in love with the city), while in the evening we were charging our batteries for day 1 – Tuesday.
Early morning we arrived at the venue, just to be welcomed by endless queues for entrance. Even though we were registered, there were queues for entrance, for restrooms, for food, all day long… This was the most hectic day, since we were trying to figure out where all the stages are placed, everything regarding logistics and ‘My schedule’ was a mess! This was the day when Web Summit got ‘the Wait Summit’ nickname 🙂
Highlight of day one, for me was exploring the startup directory and learning more about what most of the startups are working on nowadays. While they were all pretty excited to be at Web Summit, to showcase their work, one thing that they were all mostly disappointed in (even on the third day when I went to talk to them) was the fact that very rarely investors, business angels or VC’s were checking out their startup corners. Hint: Maybe next time you go to the ‘mountain’ 🙂 Check out the key notes here.
We were better prepared from logistical perspective, but oh boy, we were so not prepared to have a US election fallout, all day. As I entered the MEO arena, walking to the front rows to grab a seat I was utterly shocked to witness the trouble maker of 500 Startups (Dave McClure) have a meltdown on stage.
On that note, day 2 was the day were the hot topic was the new president of the United States. For me a highlight for this day was the ‘Startup University’, having a Q&A session with Justin and Qasar from YCombinator the panel if Europe’s tech scene is the second best? and the fact that millennials are the generation that is the most ‘unsuccessful’ when it comes to love – on the main stage the CEO of Tinder explained their mission on improving this.
Storytelling and startups aside, other two things I’m really passionate about are music and marketing. So yes, this was definitely my favorite day of Web Summit 2016. First and foremost, learning that musicians (producer Ryan Leslie, rapper Ja Rule and RnB singer NeYo, rapper Tinie Tempah and many more) are interested in tech and Ja Rule even promoting his startup FyreApp was THE highlight for me. Since there are so many opportunities tech can do for the music industry and improve the experience for the consumer but also for the artist.
The other highlight was Gary Vee live on stage – Do you really need to be single-minded to succeed? Gary’s message we all went home with is the following: The Future of Storytelling is Documenting The Journey!
Some things to take into consideration to anyone that is eager to attend huge conferences: It’s hectic! If you haven’t done your homework (who you want to meet, what you want to do), you’ll get lost easily. Use this opportunity to network, key notes can be found online at any times. Great opportunity to meet people was the night summit that was happening at Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodré (the Pink Street) where you can informally get to know people and establish a connection.
Startups- send ‘the Hustler’ from your team to hunt for what you are looking for. Investors and speakers have their own private dinners and parties, but yes they do attend the night summit too, and if you have a friend who knows a ‘guy’ it’s even more easy for you to get acquainted. And do not forget to enjoy! In that craziness of fifty thousand attendees, yes you need to remember to enjoy and present your best self.
Even though I prefer the ‘smaller’ tech events (up to 2000 people) I highly recommend to anyone to experience Web Summit, at least for once!
Lisbon is amazing and was the perfect host city.
Web Summit 2017 who’s going?