“Davos For Geeks” – The Prequel


Web Summit Introduction

The Web Summit is a technology conference, which has been held since 2009. Back then, the event was called Dublin Web Summit (the city where the event was held) and had a participation count of around 400 people, most of which were bloggers, journalists and technologists. Since then, the event grew larger every year (it is referred to as the “the best tech conference on the planet”). This year, for the first time outside Dublin, the event was held in Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon.

But why Lisbon? The Web Summit organization wanted to expand the event after several years of success. Although not officially confirmed, but the negotiations with the Irish government didn’t go well and as such they promoted a competition to know which country would host the 2016 Web Summit. Portugal came forward and won, and the event is now here for the next 5 years.

This year is also the year Web Summit changed from its original ‘Tech Industry’ focus to a more ‘Industries affected by Tech’ theme which is explained in their website: “There is no longer such a thing as a ‘tech’ industry – just industries that have been affected by tech. Just as the first industrial revolution 250 years ago left an indelible mark on the lives of the people who lived through it, tech is turning upside down everything we thought about work, social interaction, politics and life itself.”

Motivation To Attend

It was mandatory for Simdea to present!

Unfortunately, attending such an event is also an investment in and out of itself, as ticket prices ranged from 300€ (if bought one year before the event is held) to a few thousand euros depending on the attendee class [Exhibition Floor Only, General Attendee, Premium, Platinum]. As such, Simdea’s representation was circumscribed to founders André Rosa and Paulo Ribeiro.

The expectation was… well… simple :). Knowing beforehand that the event would be held for three consecutive years in Lisbon, we decided to participate in this year’s conference as a learning experience. Simdea is a young tech company in its learning curve and this was the perfect opportunity to mingle with other players in our market and learn from them. The opportunity was there to grab: 53,056 attendees, 7000 CEOs and 15000 companies from 155 countries around the world!

Preparation For The Event

Defining goals and expectations is only the first step in the preparation. Attending this kind of event requires careful planning, the so-called ‘Why, When and Where’ questions:

  • Why are you attending the event / meeting / talk?
  • When is it taking place?
  • Where do we meet?

Even if it is your first time attending, it is not hard to predict what kind of topics and/or situations will come up during the event. It is crucial to plan the time we have at the conference in order to get things done and even accommodate for non-plan chances! This is how the investment (time and money) made in attending the conference pays off. Here is a small list of things Simdea covered while preparing for the event:

  • Practice the elevator pitch
    • It’s inevitable that people will inquire on who you are and what you do. In fact, this should be something you will want to do, as this is probably the only way you can present yourself and your work and capture that crucial investment or partnership you are in need of.
  • Plan time wisely
    • Time is money and in such a big conference you will need to manage it. Scheduling meetings and sorting what talks to attend is mandatory if you want to make the most out of your time while in the conference. Take advantage of side events as there will be many and all of them will have high attendance (even with people that will not attend the Web Summit).
  • Be true to your (and your company’s) spirit
    • Many people worry about presentation and with good reason. The millennia-old advice “dress to impress” holds true in these situations. However, many fall into the trap of creating an “image” that does not uphold themselves as an individual (or as a company). Dress appropriately to express who you are and what your company is all about, only that way you can aim to impress and extract value.
  • Don’t forget your business cards
    • Business cards are an important instrument in every networking event. You should ask for a business card every time you make a new contact and write down a few notes on the back of card about the conversation you just had. This allows for better memory traction and a proper follow up to be concocted afterwards. In the end, using a business card also affects your image as it makes you look more professional.
  • Meet as many people as you can
    • In the end, networking is at the eye of the hurricane when it comes to the Web Summit conference. You will want to check the attendee’s list and do a little research on your fellow attendees at the conference. If possible, target the people that are more likely to engage with you and that you can offer some benefit in some way. Schedule meetings ahead of the event and never turn down a spontaneous connection (those will definitely occur) because, in the end, you will never know all the people attending and you might miss the opportunity of a lifetime in just a few seconds.
  • Target the right people
    • Depending on your goals for the conference you will define a set of goals to achieve. Are you seeking media coverage or investment? Research and target the right people as they will be there. Also pay attention to social media as it will provide rich information and sometimes good opportunities.

Paulo Ribeiro

Hardworking and passionate individual keen on learning and clearing any challenges coming his way.
Working in such a fast paced industry as Application Development, Paulo always aims to try and learn new technologies and new ways to perform his work, either through optimization or efficient process management. He is always open to embrace projects as long as they represent a brand new challenge and learning experience for him.

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