Unconference Web Summit
Reflecting on which conference to go this year, I chose the Web Summit, which, in fact, is not a conference. Because this event is more significant, larger and takes place not only on the declared site, but covers, or rather, captures the entire city. In general, this summit. And it is considered to be one of the main technological events in Europe, which gathers startups, investors and IT-specialists from around the world. Under the cut more details and impressions.
For the first time Web Summit held in 2009 in Ireland. The organizers thought of it as a platform for finding partners, mentors and investors for beginning (and already experienced) IT entrepreneurs. Every year there were more and more participants, and by 2015 the conference had grown so large that the organizers decided to find another venue, since the infrastructure of Dublin could not cope with the audience of the summit. That is why since 2016 the event is held in Lisbon.
Like at other summits, world-renowned figures speak here. Over the years, the Web Summit was played by Francois Hollande (former president of France), Brian Krzhanich (CEO Intel), Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook), Garry Kasparov (one of the world's best chess players), Michael Dell (founder of Dell), Bono (U2 ), Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal), Ilon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX and not only) and many others.
This year, the number of speakers reached 800. However, the primary task of the summit is not in the speeches of well-known experts, but in that interesting projects and investors meet at one site.
The site of the Web Summit 2018 is four huge pavilions (very similar to hangars) and the Altis Arena stadium for 20,000 spectators, where 70,000 participants could hardly fit. In the pavilions, an exhibition was organized (at which large and not very stands stood next to meeting rooms), in small halls reports were read and start-ups "pitschilis". Between the pavilions there were food courts with paid food and drinks. By the way, all the food and water at the summit was for money. Perhaps some of the companies in the exhibition area fed their visitors or offered coffee, but did not issue any food stamps at registration. Yes, and centrally feed 70,000 people is simply impossible.
Despite thousands and thousands of participants, I did not have to stand in line at the entrance. At the reception I received a badge and a special bracelet that allowed you to attend the conference for 2.5 days. There were no handouts, as well as the usual merchandise. All information about the program and activities was in the application, in it, after buying a ticket, it was possible to pre-register and activate the entrance e-ticket. It was possible to get the badge at the airport. Apparently, the majority of participants did so.
Navigation on the site and in the city was organized well and clearly. The scale of the event was immediately visible, and the fact that the city was preparing to receive guests - participants of the summit. But the crowd of volunteers seemed to know less than the participants themselves.
At an event of this size, it was impossible not to pay attention to how the security service works. At the entrance, the guards, as at the airport, carefully inspected the bags, backpacks and suitcases. On the first day there were a lot of students with suitcases. Either they prepared to collect promotional materials from the stands and merch, or came to the summit immediately from the airport. The whole territory was surrounded by a fence, but I did not notice the security cameras and the security guards on duty around the perimeter. I would like to hope that all this was, but hidden from the eyes of ordinary people.
At the conference site, it was possible to buy a visitor's ticket, be accredited as a press (of course, only for journalists and popular bloggers), or buy a relatively inexpensive start-up ticket. The latter made it possible for 3 employees to go to the site, occupy a small stand (rather, a small stand in the startup area) and try to find partners or investors for their project. Another possible form of participation is an investor.
And here, too, there are significant differences from any technical conference. At the summit there are no reports and any presentations with slides. In any case, at the stadium, where top speakers spoke, such as Tony Blair, Nico Rosberg, Jack Dorsey (CEO Tinder) and others. All those presentations that I saw were in the format of round tables and interviews. To take a seat on the podium and listen to the speeches sitting, you had to come in advance. It should be noted that listening to the performance at the stadium is so-so pleasure. Around the thousands of people sitting in the phones, the roar of the crowd and the echo from every word spoken in the microphone. Because of this, information is perceived with difficulty, and for a long time it is impossible to listen to it, not only standing, but even lying down. And of course, to talk with top speakers and ask a couple of questions will not work. If you just take an autograph.
The exhibition was just a huge number of stands. Maybe 200, maybe more. It would take more than one day to get around everyone and learn what they offer. There were almost all eminent IT companies, and even eminent companies from other industries. Personally, I liked the AWS, Booking, JetBrains and Microsoft stands most of all. It cannot be said that they did something super-creative, but their exhibition space was well decorated and tasteful. In the language of designers - consistently.
That’s the only thing worth going to the Web Summit. But for networking at the summit, it is advisable to prepare in advance and decide with whom, what you want or need to talk. And purposefully look for these very people (company representatives, investors, etc.). I did not prepare, and I did not have a specific goal, so the communication turned out to be chaotic. Most of the participants, if not all, were focused on communication, but many of them had “lost the settings”, so they started communicating with their goals and objectives with everyone, almost without parsing and at least the minimum filter. In the evenings, the summit tusovka moved to other locations where the Night Summit parties were held, arranged by the organizers. Information on these events could also be found in the app.
Advice for the future
There are several tips, and they are all very simple. But nonetheless:
- You should not come to the summit early in the morning, as there will be crowds of participants everywhere. Although, if you want to occupy good places in the stands, to listen to well-known and successful reasoning for a long time and thoughtfully, then, on the contrary, come.
- If you want to chat with specific people or representatives of certain companies, pre-arrange meetings with them through the application.
- If you want to not only work, but also hang out, find a Russian chat in Telegram and follow the announcements that will be posted there. The Russian community in the framework of the summit is perhaps the most active. And it seems it never sleeps.
Web Summit - not about application reports, some kind of hardcore development or competently built management activities. This event is primarily for startups and investors. And here are two main goals: a startup - to find its investor, and an investor - to make out a project with great potential and pour money into it. This is a really good place to talk about your product (or project) and establish useful contacts, especially since the price of participation is quite democratic.
You can come here for networking, but you need preparation, a communication plan, and you also need to download the application in advance and through it and / or groups (in the same Telegram) make appointments.
And of course, the Web Summit is a party in a beautiful port city and a great opportunity to combine business with pleasure. But that's another story.