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Web Summit: ‘Getting inspired by people that want to change the world with tech’

Last week the Web Summit was held for the last time for the foreseeable future in Dublin. Starting out with just a few hundred attendees in 2010, this year it was grand in size and scope, welcoming over 30.000 visitors from around the globe. Topics covered were robotics, sportstech, IoT, AI, smart cities, and the more softer themes like creativity, story telling, entrepreneurship, marketing and design.

Stewart Butterfield of Slack talked about the death of email and what it’s like to fail as a tech founder. “The interesting thing for me is now that we are on this crazy success trajectory the degree of stress, self doubt, second-guessing opinions and the decisions we make hasn’t been reduced at all.”

For Kristel de Groot of the Amstelveen-based food startup Your Super Foods learning and getting inspired by other entrepreneurs was the goal of attending the conference. “The people we met at the conference and the so-called ‘Startup University’ presentations we saw were super interesting. It’s was for instance exciting and appeasing to learn that the co-founders of Instagram en Slack are still experiencing the same daily hassles like we are.”

Adine Tjeenk Willink of Cowlinq agrees. “At the Web Summit there is vibrant atmosphere of people that want to change the world and tackle great and small problems alike with the help of technology”, she says. Adding: “It’s therefore a great venue for tech companies to learn how others creatively solve problems, get inspired and connect to great people.”

Chris Froome: ‘Focus on your short term goals’

Sports and more specifically sportstech was a big topic at the conference and one of the most talented athletes, Tour de France champion Chris Froome, was asked about what entrepreneurs can learn from top athletes. “Focus on achieving short term goals and align individual goals of teammates with overall business goals to get the team support you need”, Froome said to the large crowd at the main hall of the event, center stage.

For the Rotterdam-based startup Uscout For, that intends to democratize sports scouting, the conference marked two great milestones. “We signed a two-year contract with the 9-time national Irish premier league champion Bohemian FC”, says Martijn Brouns, co-founder of Uscout For, adding: “The picture of the Dutch deputy ambassador for Ireland, Thomas Kluck, showing his football juggling proneness is obviously priceless.”

Dutch Den

Kluck also organized one of the highlights for the more than 2000 Dutch attendees to the conference this year. Eight startups pitched during the side event, Dutch Den, that took place at the Dutch embassy to mostly Dutch investors. “It’s natural for us to present and to create a platform for startups so they can connect with us and get access to our network, with each other and with their clients”, Kluck said about why the embassy decided to organize the event. Tjeenk Willink said that it was great to see the Dutch Embassy playing such an important role in connecting the Dutch startup community during the summit.

Thijs Gitmans of Mainport Innovation Fund II, Yme Bosma of Foundation Doen, Johan van Mil of Peak Capital and Beau Huizenga of Walvis Participaties and other investors listened to the pitches of a variety of startups. The startups that pitched were:

Swipe & Shop
River BioMedics

For Yme Bosman of Foundation Doen, the event turned out to be a success. “I am walking away with two or three potential investments after this event, so I think it’s great the embassy is organizing this’, he said.

Disclosing only one of the three Bosman said to StartupJuncture that there will be a follow-up meeting with the startup WeHelpen. Bosman: “WeHelpen has a very specific social impact as their purpose, next to building a good company. That fits very well with the scope of what Foundation Doen does.” Interesting for startups Bosma also indicated that besides offering access to their global network the foundation might invest in a certain stage that might be considered too risky by other investors, but where the foundation has a mandate to invest in.

Going all Dutch

This year the Web Summit already colored a bit Dutch. The Amsterdam-based IoT startup Connecterra (or as the founders of the startup love to call it ‘the Fitbit for cows’) won the Alpha Startup PITCH prize.

But in the future the Web Summit might go all Dutch if it depends on deputy ambassdor for Ireland. Kluck: “I am hopeful that someday we can convince the organization behind the Web Summit that the Netherlands is actually an excellent place for them to hold the event. It will take some time and effort, but it will be worth it.”

Photo provided by Web Summit

Samir Saberi
Entrepreneur | Co-founder @StartupsAnoniem, @StartupJuncture | Partner @StartupDelta | Node1| Tech Blogger| Samir is interested in and loves to work with crazy, dissident, rebel startups that challenge the status quo to make things better. Drop him a line at samir[at]startupjuncture[.]com

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Samir Saberi
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