Web Summit 2017 Impressions and tips for the next year

It’s always nice to relocate somewhere far away from our daily routine, especially if that move consists of a few days of learning new things, hearing some of the most innovative minds in the world and having loads of fun.

Lisbon on it’s own is filled with diversity. All over it you can feel something I like to call Explorers vibe. What I mean by that is that you can see trails of a nation that was discovering amazing new things in their history and celebrating those discoveries through architecture and culture. Lisbon is definitely a place you should visit no matter if you plan to attend the Web Summit or not. But we are here to talk about the Web Summit and our impression of it.

To make this blog structured, I’m going to divide it into three sections:

  1. Registration, opening night and kicking off;
  2. Networking and connections;
  3. Where the attention in the world of IT is right now.

This year over 60000 people attended Web Summit, and that’s not counting the staff and media, so it’s more like 80 000 (according to the organizers). If you are arriving by plane, definitely do your registration at the airport, this way you avoid the massive queue on the day of opening night. But, if you want to skip the queue on that day, stand at the entrance at least 30–40min before the registration process opens, believe me it will be worth it. Have in mind that next year something might change on the organization level…

Opening night was cool, and you should not definitely miss it, if you get the invite of course. To get the invite you need to complete your profile on the Web Summit app. Sooner you do that the better the chance to get it.

So you got those things covered, what’s next?

On the first day the sheer shire number of people circulating through the venue can be a bit terrifying, it’s good to relax and go slowly, mainly to preserve energy for what’s to come. I remember at the end of that day looking at my step tracking app and seeing that I’ve walked almost 20km. The funny thing is that I knew that I need to go to my room, shower quickly, change and go to the Night Summit — a pretty cool event where people gather at the local pubs and chat, I will explain this part in detail later. So my advice is to take your time, not try to get to every seemingly interesting talk/panel you see on the schedule, but to plan more carefully what you are going to listen.
Why am I saying this? The venue is big and some stages are at least 10–15min away, so you end up missing most of the talk in walking between them.

For the networking part there are two different ways you could do it. The first one is the Web Summit app, and the other is going to the night events where people are way more relaxed and approachable. I will be honest with you, I didn’t have much luck with the app. I’ve got an impression that people don’t use the app for chatting that much, might be wrong but in most cases I’ve seen people looking at their schedule, and that’s about it. There are some other cases where the app can be really useful, like for research. You can find anyone who’s attending or speaking and have a detailed look at what they do and where they work. I imagine that if you want to attract someone’s attention through the app, you need to be original and have some luck with lining up your interest and their needs.

But the night events are a different story, there is something about that vibe: it’s November you are outside having a couple of drinks in a narrow street filled with pubs. Everyone is relaxed, friendly and in a good mood. I’ve met twice as more people during the night, and that’s why I think you should focus more on learning new things, and visiting cool startups during the day and on networking during the evening. Organizers did one great thing when it comes to night events, every pub has its own theme, for example, people that work with SaaS are assigned to a certain pub, so you can meet someone with similar interest like yours.

I went through some general tips regarding Web Summit, and I don’t want to dive in deeper because I don’t know how much it will be the same next year.

So, what was the main topic this year?

I would definitely say AI! Across all stages, you could see one common thing, no matter if it’s car tech or marketing tech, AI was mentioned very often. On the opening night we even had a 5min direct link with Stephen Hawking, where he addresses how we should take precautions about AI, because it may destroy the world or make it a way better place. Basically, computers could exceed our intelligence and do some serious damage to us as a species, I know this sounds far away and super futuristic, but we are in the early stages of AI and if we set everything right from the beginning it’s only going to be easier to control future. Other speakers had more or less the same opinion, but most of them have a positive thinking regarding AI and how it could help us heal our planet, not only that, it could help us in everyday life and solve problems like poverty…

That’s basically it, there was much more we could write about the summit, but we wanted to make something short and useful for everyone considering visiting it next year. If you have any questions feel free to contact us on our social networks or drop us a line on our email address info@jsguru.io