Weeks before the Web Summit, a lot of news started circulating around how the event is a waste of a start-ups money and time. With all the buzz, the team here was starting to get cold feet about attending the event. We kept thinking, is the Web Summit worth it for start-ups? With our launch just around the corner the last thing we wanted to do was waste time and resources. We ended up attending Web Summit with our best foot forward and despite a few flaws – overall we found the event to be pretty successful. Here’s a summary of our experiences during the event.
Start-up pitch competition
We were selected to compete in the start-up pitch challenge at Web Summit. For the competition our CEO did a 4 minute presentation followed by a 2 minute panel Q&A session. The pitch was helpful because it forced us to explain our product to a wider outside audience that knew absolutely nothing about us. We also got honest feedback from the panel on our product value proposition and the clarity of our marketing messages. About 100 people attended the presentation and a handful of them ended up stopping by our booth the next day, which was an added bonus!
Pros: More exposure at the event and practice on a big stage. Receiving direct and honest feedback helped us identify the key messages we needed to clarify, which were around security and how our supported network monitoring and remote tech support system works.
Meeting investors at Web Summit
Before the Web Summit we had been contacted by investors, and had a few meetings set-up for Day 1. To prepare for the meetings, we even put together a fancy pitch deck. However, each investor meeting ended up being very brief – lasting only 15 minutes and was far too short for any pitch deck. Though we did get the chance to meet two very nice investors; given the brevity of these meetings we were pretty sure they would not lead to any real funding. If finding investors is one of the main reasons you are going, our advice would be to proceed with caution as we weren’t entirely convinced that the Web Summit is the right platform for this.
Exploring emerging IoT and Data trends at the Web Summit
On Day 3 most of our hard work was over and we had time to visit other start-ups on the show floor. We were on the hunt for new partnership opportunities and other possible verticals and use cases for our own product. We were specifically looking for the latest trends in data visualization, rental property innovators and AIRBNB type services. Here’s what we found and learned:
- Data Visualization: We found a few very interesting start-ups, such as ZoomCharts that focus on data visualization. It was really useful to see the available APIs and partners in this field as we plan to leverage data visualization to make our solution more user friendly.
- Complimentary AIRBNB services: We met lots of start-ups like BnBsitter, which focus on optimizing the AIRBNB rental hosting experience. With more than 1.5 million properties being rented on AIRBNB, it is easy to see why rental service start-ups are emerging all over the world. Meeting with other rental start-ups helped us learn how our home monitoring system could work for this vertical.
- IoT for Rentals: At the Web Summit, IoT was buzzing. We saw interest in IoT ranging from insurance providers to rental property innovators. One thing that really surprised us was the number of rental property start-ups interested in the possibility of leveraging IoT to improve peace of mind and awareness. We learned in real time how our product could work for a new vertical such as the rental property market. Now we just need to work on building out this use case!
Overall, the day was beneficial for vetting other potential partners and expanding our horizons on the possible use cases for our product.
The verdict: Is the Web Summit worth it for start-ups?
The Web Summit has aspects that it could definitely improve. On an organizational level, we were pointed in the wrong direction multiple times, we couldn’t access the press list before the event and it was nearly impossible to reach out to potential partners and attendees before the event, as there were no list available online. This made organizing marketing and communications initiatives prior to Web Summit challenging.
On the positive side, the Web Summit fortunately launched a new app before the event which made it really easy for start-ups to connect with relevant people. This could be the events saving grace as it was one of the best free tools we have ever used for pre-event outreach. Most people we messaged got back to us and ended up stopping by our booth. But the app started to crash part way through the event, which caused some problems for us.
In the end, it is totally true what was said about the Web Summit in that it is really only worth the time and effort you are willing to put into it. For us, it was useful in providing an open environment in which we could meet other start-ups, get some public speaking experience, meet new customers/partners and all for a cost we could afford. So, to answer the question is the web summit worth it for start-ups? Let’s put it this way, we might just take advantage of those 2 for 1 tickets. Guess that says a lot about our overall experience 🙂
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