Unnoficial reviews from a random millenial: #WebSummit

More than fifty thousand people flooded the streets of Lisbon these past 3 days to attend one of the most hyped events of 2016, i’m talking about: Web Summit.

Some came for money, others for the digital fame and some because they just didn’t have anything better to do.

But most of them came for one thing: knowledge. Sadly, this was mostly kept inside the fantastic speaker’s heads rather than sharing it with the audience.

The promise of a thousand startups…

I attended 2 days of Web Summit, 8th and 10th of November. On both days I had the chance get acquainted with a bunch of new companies and hear some heavy-weight champions of various fields ranging from tech to advertising. I had 2 goals: to network and to gather new insights from the talks. The networking was only natural, after all, some of the best insights come up on regular conversation with other people. I find smaller networking events, like BREAK or BET, have a better result than large-scale ones such as Web Summit. Fifty thousand people usually means there’s a bunch of people with nothing new to say — finding the ones actually worth listening to can be a daunting quest.

…and the actual experience.

The part I was actually excited about, listening to amazing people talk about their fields of expertise, was replaced with a bunch of extremely superficial, “around the bush” talks.

Let’s face it, when your audience is as big as fifty thousand people from all around the world, you can’t be specific when it comes to topic discussion, some don’t have context while others live their daily grind based on the things you’re going to talk about. I get it, you have to have something for everyone.

But if you have over 21 conferences happening in the same venue, you’d expect some of these to go in-depth on the matter at hand. My eyes couldn’t keeping rolling when I sat down to hear “How to market yourself”, only to find out that the talk I was so eager to listen to, was an interview to a youtube star, something I could’ve seen on YouTube, for free.

When she was asked if Marketing was on her mind — twice during the interview — she said no and kept on telling her story and why she does it. As someone who works in Marketing, I love storytelling, but this wasn’t the time nor place for it, if you’re going to present such a topic I expect at least some talk about the different platforms, their strengths and weaknesses and how you can adapt your personality to a proper value proposition towards your market.

The speakers at Web Summit are mostly people who have accomplished amazing feats during their lives and thus acquired a lot of valuable feedback and insights during that journey, it’s quite disappointing when you think about how much could’ve been said versus how much was actually discussed.

In conclusion, despite my critics, I enjoyed my time at Web Summit, it’s great to see these kinds of initiatives taking place in your home country, the event’s organization was amazing and very well thought out. At the same time, it saddens me that this was truly a physical manifestation of what the startup hype is all about: all talk and no depth. I’d say you’re better off spending your day browsing some amazing TED Talks.

TL;DR: Everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold.

Like what you read? Give Manuel Mendes a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.