The Web Summit is a great Irish success story. It is surprising to remember it is only five years ago, in 2011, since the first one took place. To have grown from 400 attendees to over 40,000 in that time is nothing short of phenomenal. While the Web Summit will not be taking place in Ireland this year, it has organised events in 2016 in India, New Orleans, Madrid, Lisbon among other places.
We spoke to the main founder and key frontman Paddy Cosgrave about this astronomical success, and asked him how they had achieved it. He shared some of these insights with us.
“We’re always working hard to build on our gatherings. It is important for us to use the feedback we get to influence our next event.” Over the last five years the Web Summit has definitely evolved, iterated, and changed as it has grown. Cosgrave explained. “We are committed to making our attendee experiences better and we tend to obsess over new ways to innovate.”
While the last Dublin Web Summit in 2015 may have felt a little over crowded and packed to the rafters. At previous events there was definitely a sense of valuable encounters experienced by those attending. Cosgrave is emphatic that this one of the key reasons for the success and growth of the Web Summit concept.
“We want to create legendary networking at our gatherings and engineering serendipity plays a key part in this. It was in fact our engineering algorithms which allowed us to generate 600 meetings between investors and startups across two days.”
We asked him what tips he had for new Irish startups looking to grow their own businesses. Being a consummate salesperson he first emphasised the value of attending one of the Web Summit events!
“Firstly, get in early. For Collision, we had a 2 for 1 offer limited to the first 1,000 redemptions. Thousands applied, so be sure to get in early so you don’t miss out.”
In many ways this is a clear reminder of how well the Web Summit have successfully sold their brand to the world. The company do a great job of marketing and selling tickets for their events. Marketing of your product is something all startups must do, however not all give as much attention to this as other aspects of their business.
Asked about tips for startups Cosgrave offered the following advice in relation to looking for funding.
“If you are looking for investment, have a plan to pitch. Keep your story to a sentence that encompasses the nature of what you are doing and why it is important. Rehearse and anticipate questions.”
Adding to this advice he also emphasised the value of a solid understanding of knowing the logistics of the location for the event you are attending.
“Know the venue. It will save you time and help you find the people you’re looking to meet. Prearrange meetings where possible and prepare in advance. Our event app is a great starting point! He then concluded by saying. “Finally hustle, hustle, hustle. Use your team effectively. Make sure you stand out. Strike up conversations with everyone and anyone.”
While the Web Summit will not be taking place in Dublin for the next three years, the company is running well attended events all over the world. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future but to date it has been a fantastically successful concept, with lots of positive outcomes resulting from its events.