This week, I had the opportunity to attend Web Summit – a three day tech conference that has absolutely exploded the last couple of years. Going from 500 attendees in 2010 to over 20 000 this year, it has become one of the biggest tech events in the world.
Booking the tickets just shortly after finishing 6 months worth of traveling, I was quite a bit low on cash and opted to stay in a hostel dorm. This turned out to be a good decision since Dublin hotel rates went on a craze as the event drew near. To my surprise and delight, the hostel was packed with startups and students attending the conference. Just in my dorm were a bunch of New York kids who made a messaging app and a Singaporean girl doing an internship for a startup in Stockholm.
Already the night before the actual conference, you could get a sense of how huge this thing was. The night began with a pub crawl divided into more than 100 different groups and ended up in a busy bar area where entire city blocks were shut off just for Web Summit attendees. This kept on going all week with ~15 dedicated bars each night + a number of invite-only parties.
The conference itself covered two big venues divided into different themed areas such as "builder", "marketing", "enterprise" and "machine". They all had their own speakers stages and exhibition areas where startups in various phases tried getting investors attention. Besides exhibitions and presentations, there were also round table discussions, workshops and pitch competitions among other things. Each day, there were hundreds of speakers and thousands of startups exhibiting and it soon became almost overwhelming. Planning was out of the question and I ended up just going with the flow.
Since this was an event tailored mostly to business/marketing/product people, it was refreshing to listen to presentations about other things than code. In particular, I enjoyed great talks by Jeff Lawson, Des Traynor and Justin Rosenstein on the software people mindset, product management and effective company communication.
All in all I really feel like I got a great value out of this conference and would recommend it to anybody in tech. I met both new and old friends, learned a lot, found some cool products & services and got inspired to get home and create awesome stuff : )