Web Summit 2017: How to Make the Most of It

15 November 2017 536

I would like to share my experience in visiting one of the biggest tech conferences. How to prepare for it? What to look for? How not to waste time and opportunities?


When: November 6-9, 2017


Where: Lisbon, Portugal


What: WebSummit, according to Inc., “the largest conference in the world”.


Participants: from the early stage startups with no finished products to the tech giants such as Booking.com, Airbnb, Mercedes-Benz, AWS, Google etc


Brief history: first time was hosted in 2009 and the conference gathered about 400 attendees. Web Summit attendance shot up to 60K in 2017.


Speakers: during the previous years speakers included Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Dropbox Drew Houston, President of Pixar Ed Catmull, founder and CEO of Dell Michael Dell, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer and many more well-known activists.


Famous speakers, lots of visitiors and startups, it all proves that a conference of this scale is a great chance to dive into the tech world for a couple of days and enjoy a lot of benefits.

Here are just a few opportunities I found interesting during WebSummit 2017:


1. Meeting people:

You can email anybody you wish to talk to before coming. Moreover, many companies start reaching out to the potential customers or partners a couple of months beforehand.


Because a meeting face-to-face hides a lot more than only exchanging the needed information.


It is about building the personal connections.


Mingling with your prospective clients, partners or investors informally gives you more chances to leave a trace in their memories.


So... Whom can you meet during the Web Summit conference?


1. Colleagues from your own country

 Surprisingly, it is easier to meet the most active people from the industry you are working in far from home and here is why:


They are looking for new connections, open to new ideas and willing to invest in the networking.


2. Startups

The best way to see what is happening on the market in a short period of time is to spend some time in the startups zone.

Talk to guys representing Alpha- and Beta- startups and you will see the overall landscape of the future market.


3. Customers

While looking for the clients you will most probably meet your competitors.

And sometimes you will be pitching to the same client with your competitor together.

Hmmm… we got a spirit of competition here!


It is hard to find the right person in the crowd moving in between the pavilions, however, you have much better chances of meeting them:


1) At meetups. Closed meetings where you can stumble upon lots of interesting people from your target market.


2) Personal meetings. It is better to get to know a person you would like to meet beforehand and necessary to agree on the time and place of meeting.


3) Startup stands. If your target market includes small businesses during the launch stage, you may find them in the areas “for startups” and also partner with the accelerators.


2. New ideas:

Web Summit is not so much about the speeches.


We have barely spent a couple of hours listening to the best speakers.


Instead, we decided to spend time on networking.


Here are the most shocking speeches from WebSummit 2017, free to watch:


Will artificial intelligence spell the end of humanity? 

Let's ask two robots. Einstein and Sophia debate on what AI means for those of us made out of flesh and blood on central stage at WebSummit 2017. Free to watch video is here.

Stephen Hawking speech at Web Summit 2017 Opening

Dangers of artificial intelligence and many other interesting thoughts in the speech of one of the most influential scientists in the world today. Watch the video here.


Facebook star & magician, Julius Dein

Magician and Facebook star Julius Dein grew his audience to 15 million followers in about one year. You can watch his inspiring speech here.


In the era when the information is easy to find, creation of the unique speech is a huge challenge.


If you are looking for the best talks at the conference, I would suggest you to wait when WebSummit is over and watch them online. If you are not planning to attend WebSummit - just join Live stream and enjoy!


While talks from the top tech entrepreneurs are definitely worth your time, taking opportunities that only exist at WebSummit sounds more rational.


Choosing between numerous stages, you can easily find yourself lost and running between pavilions that are far from each other and trying to find a free seat.

To sum up

1,6% of the Web Summit audience was Ukrainian (1K visitors from Ukraine out of 60K visitors overall). The growing number of Ukrainians traveling to the top tech conferences proves the potential of the country to become a leading tech community in Europe.


Web Summit is a place for inspiration, building valuable connections and expanding your horizons.


Having planned your time wisely, you will be able to meet the right people, understand the current trends and state of your niche at the moment.


Preparation for this kind of huge events should start months before, and if you do it right, it will be a worth investment.


See you at Web Summit 2018!

Maria Borysova

Passionate about making the world a better place to live through technology.