Today’s guest post comes from Kari Peterson, co-founder of Sky Blue Technology – an automation software for customized virtual machines.
Kari and her team traveled to Dublin, Ireland last week for the annual Web Summit tech conference. Here’s a few takeaways she got from the event, as well as tips on how to manage a massive conference like this one!
Now that I’ve recuperated from the jet lag and made my way through email, I can finally use today to reflect on Web Summit 2015. Was it worth it? Yes.
Web Summit is an event focused on connecting startups from around the world. To provide some background, Web Summit was started in Ireland by Paddy Cosgrove 5 years ago. The first year they had about 400 attendees. This year, there were 42,000 attendees from 134 countries, 21 individual Summits focusing on different industries, and 1,000 different speakers.
The three day event was exhausting, in a good way. The size of Web Summit was good in that it brought in people from all over the world, but it also led to information overload. Our strategy?
Adjust to the 6 hour time difference on Monday and pull it together for the opening evening event. Get our bearings on Tuesday morning, make a plan, hit the startups and presentations that we really wanted to see the rest of the week. Sounds like a solid plan, right?
2,141 startups exhibited. We finally figured out startups only displayed one day each… so while we thought it might be manageable to visit the ones from Tuesday in the following two days, the Tuesday ones were gone Wednesday. We presented at the expo all day on Wednesday. Thursday we walked through the startups, which left no real time for presentations from the 1,000 speakers who took to the stages and led roundtables.
Meanwhile, 1,000 investors from the world’s leading funds were present. Many wore their “Investor” name badges turned around to protect their identity.
Prior to going to Web Summit Amy and I put plans in place to open a seed round of funding with focus on scaling our team and launching our software re-seller platform for sales, marketing and training. We researched investors attending Web Summit who understand business-to-business (B2B) software companies, compiled contact information and put together an email communication leveraging our own software to package up our pitch.
The approach worked and provided us with the opportunity to schedule a few key investor meetings prior to landing in Dublin.
This photo was taken by Amy as we were standing behind security waiting for our first investor meeting in the Financial Times Investor Lounge. Notice, the startups are presenting at the expo below and the investor meetings are taking place in the upper level. The meetings are not in quiet conference rooms with big screens and projectors.
Instead we found ourselves pitching to an investment team made up of three people. There were not enough chairs to sit down. So, we had a standing meeting. Holding my Surface we delivered the pitch and answered questions from the investors. In other cases we met with investors around a small table and another group even standing in our expo booth.
It makes me laugh now looking back on this experience. However, as a startup we have learned we need to be flexible and prepared for anything. While we are in ongoing discussions with investors from Web Summit we would like to explore opportunities with funds from the Midwest…preferably sitting down.
So all in all, Web Summit was a great learning experience for us. We were able to meet people in our industry who work for companies both small and large across the world. We will continue to nurture these relationships and hopefully run into some of them next year.
That’s right – during the event they announced that 10,000 free tickets would be offered to women in tech for 2016; in the first 24 hours, 1,989 female entrepreneurs applied. Sky Blue Technology was nominated for two of these tickets and we are looking forward to attending Web Summit in Lisbon, November 7 – 10, 2016.
Until next year!
Founded in November 2014 by Kari Peterson and Amy McKinnon, Sky Blue Technology is a software re-seller platform which combines live software and marketing content for sales, marketing, onboarding and training. The company collaborates with small and medium businesses to fortune 500 firms worldwide to ensure that end users can make the most of their software. For more information, please visit www.skyblue.technology. Read more about us here!