Ok so I was very impressed by the organization of the Web Summit event. Paddy Cosgrove and his team had a pretty slick operation that was dealing with massive numbers of people but it was very efficient and personable, a rare combination. The location was good easy to get to. Venue was ok, not ideal acoustics but not too far between stages. Wi-fi was awful on day 1 and mobile internet connectivity was not great either. Lots of techies are going to need lots of bandwidth. Hats off to the Web Summit team who provided ethernet cables for exhibitors on Day 2, which was much better.
That aside it was all about the personal connections, speaking to potential partners, startups doing interesting things or ones working in a similar space sharing challenges and opinions. Day one I attended a few talk sessions and Day two was spent on our pitching nooQ at our stand.
Review – Web Summit Speaker Highlights
Stack Exchange – Joel Spolsky
Day one the big highlight at Web Summit for me, was Joel Spolsky of StackExchange.com. Running question and answer sites and large communities of 4m users, I definitely wanted to hear about his experiences. He is highly entertaining on twitter, his blog and very funny speaker. He was talking about his design of StackExchange and controlling curators to improve the quality of answers and getting round Internet disinhibition effect.
StackExchange is growing still and has 26,000 community editors gaining on Wikipedia’s 30,000. Interesting fact was on small conversations, one question may have only 2 comments, although it can have 150,000 views. So just because a thread is small does not mean it is not relevant. A good succinct answer is relevant to a lot of people.
He talked about having strict rules and policy on stack to maintain its quality as a reference site, not a discussion forum. He slated the quality of comments on sites such as on YouTube, where some comments were more likely to be people placing their forehead on the keyboard and rolling it from side to side.
When moderating answers, they noticed a lot of comments on StackExchange contained the acronym LMGTFY. For those people would post a question without any prior research into solving it themselves, and the answer a link containing LMGTFY “Let me Google that for you”. So they recommended a policy that people do some initial research before spamming a group with a pointless question that can be answered by a search engine. I think I will have to try LMGTFY the next time I get one of those questions.
Aaron Levie CEO of Box.Com
Some might say he was very passionate, energetic and highly charged. For me he came across a bit like a 5 year old after far too much sugar. I felt sorry for the interviewer as it was difficult to get any eye contact, connection or any answers to a question as Aaron seemed to be.. well on planet Aaron. I love him on Twitter he has a certain arrogance and sense of humour although on Wednesday he was too difficult to follow and I left slightly disappointed.
Tony Hawk and Kevin Rose
I saw Tony Hawk being interviewed by Kevin Rose of Digg now Google Ventures. The main take-away from a slightly dry conversation, skateboarding is a more participated pastime than baseball in the US. Tony was turned down by a lot of investors to before Activision made highly playable Tony Hawk games first on Playstation in 1999. One investor said, no-one even skateboards so who would want to play a skateboarding game on a console! Just shows you what a great user experience and interface can do for you.
The former Mashable editor on getting PR for your startup. A launch, a big customer, an investment round that is news. The fact you are a startup is not news. Get to know the press as people, speak to them at events and like everyone else keep your pitch short and engaging in first 20 secs. He’s worth following on Twitter, he has a great no nonsense style and wit. I spoke to him for all of 20 secs, probably the shortest pitch he’s heard. I kind of felt sorry for him. Given that the guy in front of me gave probably the longest pitch he’s ever heard and me as well for that matter, so a quick thanks, ultra-brief pitch and I left him stunned looking. Hopefully from more from the jet-lag and the guy who pitched in front of me.
Certainly for me the big headline entrepreneur Niklas Zennstrom, founder of Kazaa and Skype was there with Atomico Ventures. I really wanted to see more of but the session was running late at the end of day two and had to leave for the airport. He was talking about one of his investments in the disruptive startup Hailo.
I managed to try Hailo Cabs in Dublin and was very impressed with more so as I got the first one free. After booking my cab I walked for 5 minutes trying to find a street name. The cab driver called me and struggled to find me, albeit this took a mere 5-10 mins in total, much much better than the 30 mins it can take to get one in Glasgow or Edinburgh, never mind a friendly driver. The driver couldn’t switch the booking from cash to card and let me off with the fare! For free! Now that’s a unique taxi service!
The next morning I was watching the app for twenty minutes before my departure timemonitoring the availability and knowing that at most I would have to wait a whole 3 minutes. Much better than that lottery when you phone a cab only to discover there is a 30 minute delay. After registering the card prevously, the next morning I got that unique simple one click to book, taxi calls to say they are 90 seconds away and we were off.
The other cool thing I did see in Dublin was the Tesla Car, although it was nearly the last thing I ever saw in my life.
With it being
D. Very fast and
E. driven by someone not used to it. (Elon was not driving it at the time)
It lunged and jumped forward about 50 feet in a nanosecond nearly taking out a few terabytes of techie talent standing too close to it gawping like me.
Did I mention silent?
It is disruptive, new and a few challenges to overcome yet to be accepted.
That strikes a chord with us at nooQ.
Also checkout the cool companies we bumped into and worth checking out