Web Summit 2015: Day One, In Review

Why Web Summit?

The Web Summit gets better as it gets bigger.

The ambition, tenacity, determination and skill of organisers Ci has kept Web Summit growing and growing.

Most of us agree that any business that isn’t growing is dying.

What Ci are to be applauded for is not just sustaining growth, but doing it whilst enhancing the experience.

For every vertical there is a conference and then there is Web Summit, a confluence of verticals.

Time and time again, when I asked people yesterday ‘Why Web Summit?’ size was a major factor.

More people = more opportunities.

True entrepreneurs don’t hop on a plane to sit in a darkened room and listen to someone else talk about their business. They come to hustle.

The true Web Summit is therefore not to be found in the main halls.

It’s to be found in the seemingly endless rows of booths. The hopes and dreams of enthusiastic and cash-strapped founders who have invested in coming to Dublin for Web Summit.

The thousands of Euro each business spends to come here is a measure of their energy, passion and commitment.

Wandering around the halls yesterday, I met wave after wave of clever and enthusiastic people. People who put their lives into making the world a better place, one product at a time. Fearless and full of the passion that is crucial for success.

Lack of fear of failing is as important as self-belief.

US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley hit the nail on the head when he told me, “Failure isn’t the end. It’s what you do after you find out that it doesn’t work. Many of the ideas you see here at the Web Summit aren’t going to go anywhere. The people behind them will, because they’ll learn from their failure.”

Being in a room full of fearless people is invigorating.

What feels at first like a bewildering array of companies starts to become personalised when you talk to the humans behind them.

Everyone had a perspective to offer.

It may sound random, but there’s nothing unfocused about buying a conference ticket, making time in your schedule and booking flights and hotels to get here. Everyone I spoke to was a pre-qualified lead in that regard.

My favourite new company today had jumped out at me a few days ago on Twitter and I bumped into them by chance in one of the halls.

Profilyser identify social media influencers at scale.

Their algorithms are based on academic research by founder Charles Perez. Three weeks ago, they hadn’t turned their core idea into a product. Then they were offered a stand at the Web Summit. As a result they built their MVP and launch it on Thursday: Stand D152.

I asked Profilyser’s Karina Sokolova ‘Why Web Summit?’

“The Web Summit is one of the biggest events in information technology”, she replied, “So if opportunity is somewhere, it’s here. Networking, new ideas, investors, opportunities for partnerships, customers. I think we can find everything that we’re looking for here.”

Precis from Hong Kong allow for the mass interpretation of inbound communications at scale. Founder Ernest Tam explains, “When you have thousands of messages bombarding you, we have this machine learning AI to help you identify the most important messages.”

Precis is currently deployed for inbound email analysis but they see massive opportunities for using their tool for social media messages too. Their entire UI is inspired by WhatsApp.

Onur Simsek, founder of restaurant discovery app @Lacarte, is the personification of one of the most exciting trends in Ireland’s tech scene.

He represents a whole wave of people who came here to work for tech companies, and then stayed to start companies of their own. He originally moved here from Holland to work for Oracle.

Onur told me why he stayed in Ireland, “There are loads of people starting their own startups here. There are loads of people who can help me and lots of great incentives as well. The past two and a half years I paid loads of tax here, and now I have my own startup I get most of it back to invest in my business.”

Ragsbox from Galway are helping people monetise clothes they no longer wear. Founder Colin Barry, who I’ve known for years, explains why he feels Web Summit is crucial. “Being Irish, it’s really important to be here. We met people from Hungary, Bratislava and all over the place, they couldn’t believe we were Irish. I think they hadn’t met any Irish people since they were here.”

Bumping into Sanjeev Sularia and Prachi Gupta from Indian data analytics company IntelligenceNODE offered a great opportunity to get some really inspiring perspective. “If we go back five years, there was a big difference between what was happening in the Valley and what was happening in Europe and Asia”, Sanjeev explains. “Now, Everyone’s on a common playing field and the world is an open space. It’s one common consumer market for everyone to go after.

Sanjeev also provided me with a new favourite expression to describe investment: ‘Inorganic Capital.’

He was speaking in the context of entrepreneurs taking investment only when they’re ready to scale up, “Until that point, keep your feet on the ground,” he proclaimed. “Client revenue is always sweeter than investor money. You control what you’re doing and you do it on your terms.”

The video which accompanies this piece features all of those quoted and more entrepreneurs from New York, Romania, Mexico, Spain, France, Poland, Ukraine and Belgium. Meeting them all was a pleasure, and I’m really grateful for their time.

They all have one thing in common. The drive to create something.

To the other 30,000 people I didn’t meet yesterday, I’m also grateful. Thanks for being here and being part of the buzz. We won’t all get to speak with each other, but we’re all feeding off each other’s energy.

Being an entrepreneur can be an affliction sometimes. There are easier lifestyles. Once you start it’s hard to stop. The satisfaction of solving problems and taking away your customer’s pain is too great to stop.

We all believe in better or else why would we bother?

You can’t fake passion, and passion is what unites us all.

I can’t wait to get back out there and starting wandering the halls again.

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