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Web Summit – learned lessons in retrospective
Dec 1, 2017,

Three weeks have passed since our team filled their backpacks with the bare minimum and took off to Lisbon with lots of expectation and a desire to spread the word about who we are, what we do and seek technology tips that would help our team in their day-to-day mission of delivering next-level services to our stakeholders.

As first-timers, we’ve experienced it all: excitement, a bit of stress, jaw-breaking tech and lots of communication. To put it in numbers’ we’ve had 2900 minutes of dialogue with over 150 startups. We’ve made over 33 000 steps across the venue of the event, and learned at least 7 important lessons about the IT community in Europe.

London and Berlin share their spot in the central stage of European IT communities
These two capitals are rightfully named as the “Silicon Valley” of the European IT market. These hubs represent a concentration of capital, talent and feature several support systems for IT startups. It’s worth mentioning that Europe’s “Silicon Valley” model took a shift from San Francisco’s approach. Recent years have proven that Europe’s startup ecosystem isn’t concentrated in one major hub, but is spread throughout various European capitals like Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Helsinki, Madrid and Lisbon.

New markets draw new challenges for Investors, service providers and startups

Considering the opportunity’s spread across Europe, efforts, such as keeping in touch with stakeholders, grow into a challenge for investors and other players in the ecosystem. This might be the fuel that powers the Web Summit’s scale and success. It is a place where industries can establish meaningful relations and build productive partnerships that increase the IT’s pace within the community.

Choosing the right battles in solving issues is crucial
The Web Summit has been a host for everyone: the good, the bad and the ugly too. There were startups meant to solve minor issues, others focused on generic ones and a few of them have really upped their game. As expected, those focused on what matters have been highlighted in the top-30 startup ideas exhibited at the event. As the Des Traynor, Commissioner for Competition noted: “You can’t solve every problem. Try to stay away from the small and the rare ones.”

Opposed to common belief, corporations aren’t that evil  

Bigger fish like smaller prey. That’s has been an inalienable opinion of smaller players within the IT market for years, however, Web Summit seems to prove this theory wrong. We’ve noticed that large companies have shown considerable interest in working together with startups to foster Open Innovation. One of the main argument defending this position is the fact that corporations have been the main contributors at the Web Summit and their interest in learning more about what startups have to offer. The Mercedes-Benz’s contribution of 50 000 EUR to the web summit’s final startup competition is living proof of this.

It’s mostly about people rather than technology
We’ve learned that most successful startups are not those powered by the best technology or the best system architecture, but rather by their delivered impact on a human-related issue. This has been reflected in the event’s main headlines, where considerable interest has been directed to exhibitors and speakers without particular experience in IT or coding. Topics such as design, health, music, content and marketing converged with engineering, security, and enterprise areas, got top of-the-shelf attention, delivering living proof that computers, data, apps and digital solutions have entered all fields of our day-to-day life and are no longer “a nerd’s tool”.

When it’s about people, it’s about trust
It’s no coincidence that most of the talks were about ‘taking back’ and re-gaining consumer rights over privacy. Since confidentiality is paramount in a world of data, customer trust must be powered by it. At the same time, privacy implies a dilemma, as Mr. Joel Spools (CEO of Stack Overflow) noted: “Curiosity drives the demand for innovation, but if users increasingly want their information to be out of to be out of view, technological advances will suffer as a result.” On the other hand, the industry can be tailored, as Bryan Johnson (founder of Kernel) stated: “The single greatest thing we can do is to improve our adaptability.” Weighting both circumstances, the best way out is to build trust while following the new rules. Eventually, innovation will catch-up.

The web powers globalization and contributes to the overall growth
Web Summit reinforced the above statement with hundreds of examples. By simply browsing through booths you could see that anyone, anywhere on the planet, could come up with an innovative idea and business process and have an equal chance to compete on fair terms in an open environment powered by the web. Their access to talent, finance, either their business know-how might differ, but everyone has an equal chance to stand-out for their audience and scale-up. In addition to the above, the web has made it possible for each and everyone to collaborate on a totally new level, enabling growth and erasing borders all across the globe.

Of course, each attendee has its own lessons gathered at the 2017th event. We’re not saying these are the top 7 things for everyone to learn, however, these were those that made us wow, think and adjust.