Two weeks ago, I got to be the lucky guy flying to Lisbon to attend the Web Summit, the biggest technology conference in the world. Uber, Instagram, Netflix… most of these renown companies past through the Web Summit at some point in time. Together with two colleagues from MyMicroInvest (Gilles van der Meerschen and Sébastien Commeyne), we got the chance to immerse ourselves for three days in startupland and did our best to spot the next unicorn for our impact VC fund.
Each year, the Web Summit attracts 60,000 attendees who are willing to discover how the latest technologies are impacting various sectors, be it online marketing, health care or even our own planet. 25 conferences with top experts run in parallel, providing insights on how the world is currently evolving.
Next to the big stages, hundreds of start-up booths, spread over the great Web Summit halls, are trying to sell their project to every person who passes by, with alternating success. Being a successful tech entrepreneur is clearly a very sought-after career…
After a few days in Lisbon, here are our most important takeaways from the 2017 Web Summit:
- The hottest topics there were: blockchain, artificial intelligence, chatbots, augmented reality and ICOs.
- Real entrepreneurs never miss an opportunity to pitch. We have had pitches while waiting to board the airplane, while having a drink in a bar…and even in the restrooms.
- The best pitch we heard was not from an entrepreneur but from a former politician: Al Gore. Al Gore vividly advocated for immediate action against global warming. His message was simple: technology to prevent global warming is already available, we only need to make it happen and believe that a combined effort can make the difference – there is no other choice;
- The American elections were a recurring topic. Brad Parscale, Digital Director for the Trump campaign, explained how they mastered online marketing to ‘hypertarget’ individual voters trough social networks via a mind-blowing number of different advertisements (150,000 per day);
- Belgian start-ups have, somewhat unsurprisingly, a more cautious and thoughtful approach in scaling their businesses. Compared to our neighbours, valuation and funding are both more modest for the same level of project maturity;
- Good contacts can be made anytime, anywhere. Talking in the queue to grab a taco for lunch lead to a sudden encounter with a fascinating Belgian start-up. Will this be MyMicroInvest’s first taco shelter campaign?
For MyMicroInvest, the Web Summit has been successful so far; we came back with a full stack of business cards and a promising pipeline of (inter)national projects. Up to us to turn them into investment opportunities for the crowd and for Inventures, and to empower the entrepreneurs to build successful companies and to improve our world!