As it was my first time at Web Summit I decided to free style, rather than research it to the point that my experience became full of appointments. Having the US election results smack bang in the middle of the event made for some very interesting conversations, what with everyone being so certain Clinton would do a home run! Lisbon itself was a stunning city, and the weather was just about right for a rain loving Paddy, hitting 18c making it almost tropical for my non sun loving skin.
Despite the fact that I’m native to the Emerald Isle, and live in the birth place of Web Summit (Dublin), I’d never actually had any reason to attend. Tech was just never my jam… but what a difference a year makes! Being COO of Cloudwith.me, an online solution that simplifies AWS adoption, Web Summit was suddenly a ‘must have’ on my list of events this year. We were very honoured to be selected for the ALPHA programme, and had a booth on day 1 of the event. The day itself was almost 10 hours of non stop talking, at times we had several people waiting to speak with us from attendees, investors, developers and fellow ALPHA guys. Our cool t-shirts might have had something to do with it (thanks Maria 😉).
There were endless invites to exclusive parties and dinners, messages on the Web Summit app from people from all walks of life wanting to meet up to discuss possible partnerships. The fact that Cloudwith.me simplifies something that is often integral to many start ups, developers, as well as bigger businesses, made it very easy for others to appreciate the value of our solution.
All in all it was five fun filled days, one night we ending up at a bar on the rooftop of a multi-storey car park, and we were treated to traditional Fado singers over dinner which was a pleasant surprise. I came away with many exciting prospects, however that was not the biggest thing that I took away from Web Summit. What I learnt was that even living and working in an industry that is driven by technology, it’s the personal relationships you form that make a difference. This tech industry that we all love so much just wouldn’t be the same without that face to face connection. Just being able to share ideas, in some ways getting recognition for what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, the high and low points, and the challenges. Something that perhaps those closest to you will never quite be able to understand (fortunately not the case for me).
I think Web Summit really hit the nail on the head with their focus on night summits. Without this, Web Summit would be just another big conference machine that churns out thousands of attendees who leave with a few free pens as the highlight of their visit. Despite meeting some very high profile people and people who are clearly in business for the love of money, the ones who really left an impression on me were the ones who were passionate, hustling every day because they believe in their dream! Whilst there most certainly are opportunists that prey on those desperate to launch their startup, there are also really genuine people who are willing to support your journey — all you have to do is listen. You might not have secured the investment you had hoped for, but if you take the time to listen to others in the same boat as you, you might find the secret ingredient that you’ve been missing. It could be the difference between success and failure.
It’s smart to learn from your mistakes. It’s even smarter to learn from someone else’s.
We’re living in a time where things are shifting across the globe, people want change (as recent UK and US election results demonstrate). I am a firm believer that the more things change, the more they stay the same. People just want to be heard, respected, encouraged, appreciated, valued and the best way to do this is simple…be nice and your journey will never be wasted. Web Summit is an unbelievable platform to meet people from every corner of life, and it’s an opportunity to be inspired by their journey. Sadly many of them may not achieve their potential, but for the rare few that have that unquenchable fire inside them, no amount of knock backs will throw them off course.
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new ~ Dalai Lama
It was people like Alan, Arturo, Eddy, Georgina, Greg, Ilana, and Thomas that made my experience so amazing and without them it might have been just another event.