Let’s hack WebSummit 2017 in Lisbon

TLDR: We can figure out a more efficient way of networking than paying thousands to attend a giant summit

WebSummit has been called “the world’s best tech conference”, “Glastonbury for geeks” and “Davos for geeks”. A couple of years ago this story by tech.eu got quite famous. It asked the question “Is WebSummit a scam”.

Since then I have thought a lot about how to get the most bang for your buck at events like that. My conclusion it that paying hundreds or thousands of euros to attend isn’t the best way. Any startup worth its salt should find much better ways to make these events work for them. I am going to propose one such way here.

What interested me most about the original story was not the suggestion that the WebSummit team managed to squeeze a lot of money out of attendees. It was the attitude of those who held that opinion which interested me most. Neither the writer of the original article or the dozens of people who commented suggested good ways to fix the problem that had been identified.

The problem many people agreed on was that startups who paid to attend did not get value for their money. It was clear from many of the comments that the WebSummit team had been very aggressive in their marketing and perhaps not entirely honest. Startups need to find effective ways to deal with such scenarios. If all a startup does in reaction is to complain I would say they probably aren’t being as smart as they should.

So what is the best way to deal with an overpriced startup conference? Well, hack it — obviously. Isn’t an ability to “disrupt traditional ways of doing business” one of the core offerings of startups? It is a bit ironic to see small companies claiming to be super smart and innovative yet falling for old fashioned “snake oil salesmen”.

My proposal starts with taking advantage of the biggest leverage startups have: the network effect. I will spend the next few weeks reaching out to any startups who want exposure at WebSummit without paying excessive amounts. Just a handful of startups working together should give us access to an audience of a few thousand before the event.

The second part is to find accomodation in Lisbon in advance of the event. Lisbon is not an expensive city but during WebSummit prices go through the roof. By renting a large apartment for the entire month of November I can achieve a few things. I will save money on the cost of renting but I will also be able to stay longer to learn more about the Lisbon tech scene. Any startups that are interested are invited to share the apartment and the learning experience.

Once I’ve got a few startups on board and a place to rent in Lisbon, the real fun can begin ;) I’ve spent some time in Lisbon before and I know there are a ton of places to organise some awesome “unconference” events during WebSummit. Won’t go into too much details here as part of the success of this hack depends on being a bit of a surprise!

Let’s make this happen! If you are a startup who truly believes in thinking outside the box, get in touch (won’t say how because if you can’t figure that out you probably aren’t the kind of startup I want to work with..)

Lisbon is going to be rocking in November. Do you want to be part of it? Well, don’t pay hundreds to join other boring people lined up against the wall. Join me in the trenches. We’re going to ambush this party and it will be a lot more fun!!!

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