Web Summit is – without a doubt – the biggest tech conference in Europe.
This year’s event took place in Lisbon, Portugal. I’ve never thought of Lisbon as a tech city, but hey! Life is full of surprises!
Imagine yourself landing at the airport just a few stops away from the venue. There are signs welcoming the guests, volunteers checking you in, people smiling everywhere, striking up conversations with other attendees.
Then, the world turns bright white as your eyes try to adjust to the sunlight (because sunny autumn in your country has already turned into grey days). The city is full of tech people wearing wrist bands, enjoying the lively networking atmosphere in the Bairro Alto district or dancing by the riverbank next to the Ponte 25 de Abril which looks like the Golden Gate.
And so you walk through the narrow and steep streets of Lisbon, passing by pedestrians with a fellow conference participants. All around you people are smiling, talking business in the subway, on the bus or in restaurants. And you’re part of it all. All it takes is to reach out to the person sitting at the table next to yours, starting the conversation with simple ‘Hi’ and finishing it with an exchange of business cards, or just scanning badges to plan a business meeting or schedule a call next week.
50 thousand tech people – what could possibly go wrong?
As a team, we didn’t have any specific goals for the event. We just wanted to meet interesting people and to build our network, which honestly is inevitable when you take part in a conference of such scale. Entering the venue, or even walking down the street, I felt as if I was diving in the networking sea. Everyone I talked to was interested in new tech and worked for the IT sector.
With 50 thousand people from tech staying in this historic city over a week, anything could go wrong, but as far as I’m concerned nothing major did! WiFi could use some improvement and the on-site coffee was, to be delicate, rather bad, but thankfully Facebook and their coffee machine saved the day!
Women in Tech area
As one of the women invited to the conference, I had access to the Women in Tech area, where we could share our experience with business developers, marketing strategists, software developers, entrepreneurs, etc.
I spent one whole day there and it was totally worth it. Conversations about smart city solutions with Suvi Hakamies from Green Net Finland and with Linda Koivunen from Pre-Ohjelmistot Oy. Chatting with Filipa Larangeira from Orange Boom, Iwona Gruszka from Discovering Success about the power of building the community support around the IT sector and about successes and failures of startups. Together with Kai Ping Chang from Techmoi international Ltd, searched to define what makes a successful business and how to support the processes to make them more effective. It was a really intense time!
Also, we couldn’t forget about many side events worth exploring over the week! I joined a local Geekettes event, which took place in the amazing spaces of Uniplaces HQ. The main part of the event was a panel discussion about diversity in tech between Lu Li Founder and CEO of Blooming Founders, Filipa Larangeira – Founder and CEO of Orange Boom, Hollie Haggans from DigitalOcean, Ida Tin from Clue, Ana Sofia Pinho – Geekettes Ambassador, and Leslie Miley, Director of Engineering at Slack. After the event we had a chance to talk with Danny Bronstein and Danny Povolotski from Caffeine – Design and Development about building company reputation in the local markets. It was really interesting to get to know the points of view of people from all over the world.
Talks, trends, innovations, startups?
If you come to Web Summit to get inspired, you sure will get that – not only watching talks. If you’re searching for trends, innovations, and startups, this conference is the place where you meet all the people standing behind them. And that’s the thing – when asked about what brings half of the tech world to this conference – I would definitely say ‘the atmosphere’ – conducive to networking and talking about business with the right people.