FaseTwo’s Web Summit Experience
The following post is from Linh Le M’16, co-founder of FaseTwo.
It was with great honor that our team FaseTwo received funding from the Blank Center at Babson College to attend the Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. Web Summit is an international start up event that gathers more than 42,000 attendees, 1,000 speakers, and 1,300 start ups world wide. Some of the remarkable speakers include founders of Kickstarter, Pixar, Instagram and executives of Facebook, IDEO etc.
We are FaseTwo, our mission is to connect manufacturers in developing countries (SUPPLIERS) with small and medium business (BUYERS). The two founders, myself and Tom Nguyen, attended Web Summit hoping to learn about the current trend in tech and start up world, expand connections, and look for new opportunities.
We arrived in Dublin three days prior to the event. Our first impression of Dublin was a quiet city and not a lot of high-rise buildings. However, this city hosts the European headquarters of iconic companies such as Google or Facebook. We were excited to unveil the city, the Web Summit event and the start up ecosystem there. We spent three days to explore Dublin, as well as put together a game plan for Web Summit. Some of the steps we did to prepare for the event:
- Downloaded the app, it showed us all the info we need about Web Summit including speakers and attendees’ profile, talks time, location, and venue map. We could also add friend and chat with speakers and other attendees.
- Saved the talks we wanted to attend;
- Saved and connected with attendees and speakers.
A 42,000 people event could be overwhelming for first time attendees like ourselves. There were 21 sub-summits, which are talks that focus on specific industry such as fashion, machine, education, etc. These talks were only 20 minutes per talk and happened simultaneously at different locations in Web Summit venue. Therefore, I would highly recommend anyone who go to plan your schedule well so you don’t miss the good talks.
Central summit gathered most influential speakers and was most crowded. Speakers at central usually discussed general trends, while speakers at other summits focused more on specific topics of that industry.
Our team spent the first and third days to attend the talks, and second day to exhibit our start up, FaseTwo. We captured attention of quite a crowd being the only company from Vietnam that exhibited. As we used tourism of Vietnam and getting funding from Babson as starter of the conversation, things went quite smoothly.
Some of the most noticeable trends from Web Summit:
Blockchain: the science behind bitcoin. Blockchain is a distributed public database/ ledger that is very hard to revise and therefore is unique for its security and originality. The fun part is that people now start to use the science of bitcoin in other applications. Imagine when you want to buy house, there is a database that allows you to see the house history, owner credits, and neighbors’ comments. When you go to grocery store, the database shows you exactly what ingredients are in the food and where they are sourced from. The big idea is to by-pass the middle-man and go directly from user to user. The talk about Blockchain was conducted by Anne Pascual, associate partner and design director of IDEO Germany and was one of my most favorite talks. Anne also gave you the general guidelines on building trust of users in the digital space.
Pixels speak 10,000 words: all of the iconic social media companies such as Facebook, Instargram are reinventing themselves to change the way people use photos and videos. Facebook recently released the new feature, allowing users to swipe in all dimensions in a video to see the surroundings. Apple just released the 3D image feature that allows user to see what happen before and after the picture is taken.
Innovation in fashion: Have you ever seen Spiderman movie and wondered what the thread is like in real life? Bolt Threads, a company based in California now can create the engineered silk platform that allows them to create programmable polymers, which can be tuned and optimized for different qualities (UV resistance, stretchiness, or strength). It was fascinating to hear the CEO, Dan Widmaier, talked about the company’s achievements and vision.
Web Summit is one of the biggest start up event that I have ever attended, and probably the closest I’ve ever got to world’s most influential people thus far. Overall it was a great event and great learning experience. If your goal at the event is to acquire users for your product or build a lot of connections, it might be tough given it is a 42,000 people event and everyone has their own agenda. For FaseTwo, our goal is to learn about the current trend, get new ideas and seek opportunites for our start up. We felt that we were able to achieve these objectives. Choosing the right talks to attend and hearing from the leaders gave us a lot new ideas for our project.
- Negotiate with Web Summit staff to get discount;
- Seek funding from Babson and other organizations;
- Get the LEAP card for ease of transportation in Dublin. You could save money and avoid crazy traffic during event days. Also there is FREE wifi on the bus .
- Download the Web Summit app;
- Have clear objectives for Web Summit and clear gameplan, who to meet, what talks to attend, what impression do you want to leave for people that visit your booth.