The Web Summit

The Web Summit is one of the largest tech conferences in the world and this year brought 42,000 entrepreneurs, investors and press from 134 countries around the world to Dublin. With 21 different summits across the city, from an angel summit to a sports summit, huge doesn’t even begin to cover it. Chantalle and Rory both attended and were certainly impressed with its vastness!

WOMENA was there for two main reasons: to meet Middle East entrepreneurs; and meet investors from around the world to discuss best practices and examine trends in VC and entrepreneurship.

There was a surprisingly large contingent of startups from across the Middle East. As Wamda explains, the number of startups from the region quadrupled from 11 last year. Most of these startups were attending the Alpha Startup Competition, of which there were over 1,000, most of whom were from Europe but all over the world.

The investor base at the Web Summit was also substantial with GPs, LPs, angels and a host of others coming together. There were several investor related summits. WOMENA’s first experience of the Web Summit was the Angel Summit the day before the Web Summit started. It was very interesting to hear angels from around the world face similar challenges, despite many different laws, investor rights and cultures around the world.

WOMENA also attended the Investor Summit, which brought investors from across investment classes, across stages and across geographies together. There were several roundtables and panels but the standout event was with Dick Kramlich. Dick, Founding Partner of NEA and a founding father of VC, gave an excellent fireside chat and told some fascinating stories.

Following the Web Summit, Rory also attended the Surf Summit in Sligo, a town in the west of Ireland. While the focus of the Surf Summit was – as the name would suggest! – surfing, many attendees were drawn for the networking opportunities in a more casual setting to the vast Web Summit. Ireland is famed for its enormous waves and three of the top big wave surfers gave a fascinating talk on what it takes to surf these waves. For an idea of the size, check out this and this video. The weather miraculously held out for the weekend and the sun even emerged! For the west coast of Ireland in November, quite a shock!

After a week of Web Summit, it was time for WOMENA to say adieu to Ireland. With the Web Summit moving to Lisbon next year, it will be interesting to see if the powerful atmosphere and character can be transferred to an entirely new city. One of the best things about Web Summit is its location. The Irish are so friendly and the city is of a size that is very conducive to incorporating a conference within the city itself. Web Summit just wouldn’t work in New York or London as they’re too large.

This isn’t to say Lisbon is not great and not capable of the challenge (far from it – Rory attests Lisbon is one of his favourite cities in the world) but Dublin and Lisbon are two very different cities.