Should you go to the Web Summit 2016 in Lisbon? 5 lessons to make it worth it.

In just a few short years, the Web Summit has evolved from 400 attendees to 40000 from 110 countries and is often mentioned as the “best technology conference on the planet”. Well, if you have never been there and do not really know what’s it like, you may be wondering if you should attend the Lisbon event in 2016. Based on our own experience at the Web Summit 2015, the short answer would definitely be a huge YES.

Being at the Web Summit 2015 has really exceeded our expectations and has been a huge boost for Displr. However, nothing is ever that simple. The Web Summit is an extremely large event, with so much going on at any one time that, in the end, everyone will have their own personal account of what the event was like. The event is therefore very much what you make of it and it is up to you to make it worth it.

Here are 5 lessons that you may consider to make sure that your participation at the next Web Summit will be a successful one.

The Web Summit is not a spectator’s sport: There is nothing wrong with attending just to see what’s it like, but you must understand that you will miss most of the action. To really take advantage of an event like this you should have something to sell to other people, even if it is just an idea. The real power of the event is the opportunity to expose your concept to a large number of informed people, training your pitch to exhaustion, getting feedback, exploring partnerships, get funding, maybe even sales. If you have a valuable product or idea you will be in game. Otherwise, you may end up thinking that the summit is just a series of talks.

“You should have something to sell to other people, even if it is just an idea.”

To exhibit can really make the difference: As part of the ALPHA program, we had roughly one meter of space in the mid of 2000 startups, and only for one of the days of the event. Since the tickets are already part of the deal this is not that expensive and it really makes a difference. It gives you a location where others can go and find you. It gives people who may be interested in your business the opportunity to know that you exist and take a moment to talk to you. This is your day and it is worthy every minute.

Good pace: Sessions are not necessarily the best way to keep you busy at the Web Summit. There are so many parallel sessions that you may feel tempted to optimize too much to attend as many sessions as possible. However, scheduling different sessions in different places can be especially difficult. It can take a long time to go from one to the other, delays in one of the sessions may break your strategy and when arriving to a new conference room, you may find it full and have to wait before you are actually able to enter. Instead, be very selective about the sessions you want to watch and leave plenty of time for the other activities.

Serendipity: In the Web Summit, the opportunities are all around you and there is no way you can possibly anticipate all those possibilities. Serendipity can be a great thing when you are in an event with 40000 people that are facing the same issues as you are. Just take as many opportunities as you can to talk to people about your business and listen to their ideas. Networking is a key principle of the Web Summit and most people are highly open and receptive to a spontaneous conversation about their work and your work. Just get into that spirit and you will quickly get addicted to it.

“Just take as many opportunities as you can to talk to people about your business and listen to their ideas.”

Be proactive: Serendipity can be great, but relying only on randomness is not likely to optimise the benefits you can get from the Web Summit. There are people you want to talk to and this is the perfect setting for that. The Web Summit application allows you to get in contact with other participants, but you can also check participants lists to identify those people, and possibly invite them to your exhibition booth (another reason why you need one). No matter how you do it, you need to plan this ahead to increase the chances that you can actually talk to these persons. Remember, even if they are from your own town, the Web Summit might be just the perfect opportunity to get that first contact in a positive and memorable atmosphere.

Looking forward to meet you at the Web Summit 2016, in Lisbon 🙂


Bruno (CEO), Rui (CVO) and Hélder (PM) at the Web Summit 2015.

“Projeto desenvolvido com apoio do Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional (FEDER), através do Portugal 2020, no âmbito do Programa Operacional Regional do Norte.”

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