WebSummit wrap-up

Three weeks after the latest WebSummit in Lisbon, it’s time to write down some thoughts about the event, the model behind it, and the startup ecosystem.

Yes, it’s a crazy place packed with people from all over the world looking for business opportunities. Fair enough.

If you get there you know how it is. Right or wrong is probably not the correct question to ask for. This is the business model of the events dedicated to startups.

It’s a money machine, of course, the one of the kind that has each one of us cry:” Why I haven’t thought about it before him?” as the model is rather simple: you pack in a gigantic space people who want to invest money, people looking for money to nurture their dream, audience looking at the entire show.

It’s cruel, in a way, but no one is there for charity reasons.

An event like this, calls for an equally energetic environment as today’s Lisbon is. Let’s talk about the charm of a decadent city, where you can walk across small streets listening for the music in the language and waiting for your chance to say “Obrigado”.

Then think about one of the poorest countries in Europe, which became a democracy barely 40 years ago and with a glorious past of navigators and conquerors.

Lisbon is exactly the sum of the two: the city is going under massive renovation with old buildings restored, streets repaved and is looking towards a bright future claiming “We are not Silicon Valley, this is Portugal”, “We are not Berlin, this is Portugal”, though very careful about not losing its identity and charm.

The digital economy is the future and the present as well. Not betting on it is like missing a train.

Startups are the huge business of the digital economy. Not betting on them is like missing that same train.

The key is to sell a dream and not a nightmare, an opportunity and not an illusion, a chance and not a lie.

What about our chance?

We learnt a lot because there’s a lot to learn if you walk around listening and watching what others say and do. There were a lot of incredibly smart people to discuss with and to discover: great ideas as well as bizarre ones.

In our opinion the event is the ideal place to benchmark ourselves and the way we present our ideas. Without benchmarking, any idea looks great, unique and we may feel as our own personal Jesus.

Yet, when you present your product in a one to one conversation or you get on the stage for the Pitch, that’s another story. It’s the cruel reality of relevance.

We are proud for having been selected for the Start up Track.

Even more so for having the chance of being among the 200 companies selected out of more than 1.500 applicants to be on stage for the Pitch.

The key learnings we brought home with us:

Listen and talk to everybody around you: learning is in the air

Learn from comments and questions how to introduce yourself and your company better and in a clearer way

Listen for criticism and put it to work for your benefit

Have a clear agenda or you may get lost

The Beta version is everything and does not need to be perfect: it has to work

Any further suggestions from your side?