Interested In What Actually Happened At Web Summit Lisbon?

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Web Summit came and went in a flash! If you were lucky enough to be there then you know how quickly 50,000 people can show up, disrupt Lisbon and a leave. Let's have a look at what happened - actually:

Web Summit, for the few of you who don’t know, is the largest tech event in Europe where the largest (and smallest!) tech-heads gather for talks, parties and business cards. For the last 5 years, it has been hosted in Dublin, however, this year, Web Summit has, unceremoniously, moved to sunny Lisbon. I was lucky enough to be able to attend but in all of the excitement and rush, I left not knowing if anything was actually accomplished or if this was all just a big show.

To understand what actually happened I spoke to three parties:

  1. An established startup of Lisbon’s ecosystem: Tradiio
  2. A newer, international, startup: Moneytis
  3. A woman in tech: Maria Almeida / Beta-i

First Up: Tradiio

Tradiio is a Lisbon-based startup that helps musicians monetise their fandoms. In response to the current models of streaming where only mainstream artists can make money, Tradiio is a platform where fans can engage directly with artists, contributing various sums of money for various perks. Think Patreon for music. I spoke to Alvaro Gomez (CEO) and Andre Moniz (CTO).

What was your Web Summit experience?

We have been doing this for 2 years so we’ve been to some similar events, but this time we had the pressure of fundraising. So we thought: Let’s plan this the right way.

3 weeks ahead of the conference, we started contacting investors and we booked 40 meetings for the 3-day event – it was a very aggressive agenda. We didn’t see any other startups and we didn’t leave the investor lounge unless it was to get coffee. And from this forty, we got engaged with 4 that are really keen to invest. To get these four interested investors is major deal. So for us, Web Summit was really productive.

What made this such a productive period?

I think what made the difference was that we had the opportunity to meet personally and create a strong connection, it’s about feeling it – you don’t get that by meeting on Skype. The fact that Lisbon is our home town also helped; it’s like a football match & we were playing at home.

What was your most important takeaway from Web Summit?

It validated the fact that we are not crazy! Key people were here and we were ready to talk about the future of the industry with them. We were able to validate that what we are building in our industry is the future. We recovered a lot of energy in terms of knowing, “yes, what we have is right!”

Do you think Lisbon has been affected by Web Summit in a long-term way?

A lot of investors came here and felt Lisbon, they saw the high quality of life here and the open mind of Portuguese people. They came here and felt at home. This is something that you cannot replicate in other places. You can copy cut incentive programs from the government. You can’t copy cut culture because it takes centuries to build. And people felt that it was something special.

Web Summit: success or not?

Yes! If you had asked me 3 days before Web Summit, I would have said no as we already participated in a lot of events. For the objective we wanted, not only synergies, but money flowing and I did not think that this was possible and now I tell you: yes it was. The key to this was preparation.

The Talk Of The Town: Moneytis

Moneytis is a new startup that calls itself the “the of money transfer”, which is to say that it is a platform enabling users to compare different money transfer organisations. I spoke to Steve Barraud (Partnership Manager).

Going into Web Summit, what were your expectations and how did you prepare?

We had three main targets: investors, oress and money transfer operators (potential partners). We put our targets in categories (targets we could address and ones we could not) and then we made a plan to go see them.

How did things go?

To make a long story short, we’ve had three articles published about Moneytis, we’ve seen seven investors and on the partner side, we have at least 10 potential new partners. The big news is that we were accepted into two accelerators – Y-Combinator and a new accelerator program from French bank, La Banque Postale.

Overall, was it a success or a failure?

It’s quite hard to qualify at this point, I think it’s a mid-long term thing, I would say it’s been a success on account of the articles and investors and I’ve been already in contact with the partners we met this week. But I think it’s more something that we’ll see the result of in the mid-long term.

Do you feel like those kind of meetings would only happen at Web Summit?

I wouldn’t say that they would happen or not happen; I would say Web Summit accelerates them. Even with a fully online product like ours, human contact is extremely important, and as a result of this human contact, the discussions with potential partners is now much more fluid.

Woman In Tech: Maria Almeida / Beta-i

Web Summit gave away 10,000 free tickets to women in order to help tackle underrepresentation in the tech-world. So I thought it’s necessary to talk Maria Almeida, a staple of Lisbon’s startup scene as a result of her work at the accelerator Beta-i.

Maria, you work in the field of technology; do you think before Web Summit you experienced some kind of stigmatisation or felt women are underrepresented?

At startups, meet-ups or any tech event, I’m usually one of the only woman in the room. So we’re definitely a minority. Especially here in Portugal; we don’t have a lot of women starting their own businesses or a lot of women in tech. In my opinion, it is a serious issue because we should have gender equality across society including business and tech.

What do you think about gender representation at this year’s Web Summit?

I think they made a big effort to bring more women to the event with their campaign where women didn’t have to pay for the ticket. I think that is very important. Some people might criticise when there is positive discrimination but a lot of women don’t consider technology or entrepreneurship as an option simply because they don’t know it’s possible. So I think it’s good that these kind of events decide to foster these initiatives.

Was this enough in your opinion?

They gave the tickets away but I didn’t really feel like it was an issue, they tried to have a good representation of women, even within the speaker’s list and that is really important. I didn’t feel that it was such a big topic, you couldn’t really notice that all those women were there.

So there wasn’t enough attention drawn to that fact?

No, not really. I heard there was a “women in tech” booth but I didn’t even see it. I think, we need something a bit more creative to talk about this issue because I know we’ve been talking about this for the past few years and we all know it’s an important issue to discuss but we need to find a way to talk about this more creatively other than “Oh, we need more women in tech!”.

Do you think that the situation is getting better and do you think Web Summit is part of the solution?

I think it is getting better simply because it’s important to have role models, so I see some women here in Portugal, that are doing some great things which is creating role models and local heroes so that later on, young girls can be inspired by them. I do think that Web Summit plays a role in this. I just hope that in the future they don’t just give 10,000 tickets. I mean, they should keep doing that and not just for women, but other technological monitories and find talk about this in a different way.


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Photo Credit: Irish Tech News