Highlights from The Next Web and beyond

Jun Song
The Startup
Published in
6 min readMay 31, 2018


© Jolien Evaert | Story Chief

After two nights of drinking and debauchery in Finland, the gang at Story Chief charged on to The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

We were among the 15,000 attendees last week — interns and all.

TNW 2018 took over Westerpark’s cultural complex — Westergasfabriek — transforming the space into an “ecosystem of technology agents driving business innovation,” not to mention live bands and food trucks!

The Future Is Here
The Next Web
The Dome was hard to miss
The Next Web Amsterdam
Maurits Berger, Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs
Westerpark swarm
The Next Web 2018
Transformatorhuis in session
Gashouder filled to the rafters
The Next Web
Nobody went hungry or thirsty
Regulations, Responsibilities, and Blockchains, oh my!
Part-Conference Part-Festival All-Good

© Story Chief

All were gathered at The Next Web under the premise of PREDICT, DISCUSS AND INVENT THE FUTURE.”

And that we did.

Here is our breakdown of the Top 5 Keynote Speakers from The Next Web Conference 2018, and their takeaways:

1. Mike Rigby, VP and Executive Creative Director at R/GA


Story Chief is all about digital storytelling, and Rigby is a big believer in stories.

Furthermore, he believes in the “need to match the story of the brand with a system.”

His keynote was inspiring to say the least, encouraging connected brands to “transform businesses and move culture, change minds and challenge biases, improve lives in ways big and small.”

We should all strive to say loud and proud that we love our jobs.

2. David Mattin, Global Head of Trends and Insights at Trendwatching

The Next Web Amsterdam
“Serve a core human need in a new way.”

Mattin was on everyone’s radar as he emphasized the need to listen to the customer (empathize), in order to be able to move forward.

Mattin says innovations derive from:

  1. Change (world innovation)
  2. Basic Needs
  3. Innovation itself
  4. Emerging expectations

“Great innovation and design starts with core human needs and wants. The biggest question you need to ask yourself when you come across some kind of new innovation is: ‘How is this innovation serving a basic human need in a new way?’” — David Mattin

Bravo. Back to basics it is.

3. Tricia Wang, Global Tech Ethnographer and Co-founder of Sudden Compass and Magpie Kingdom.

Tricia Wang of Sudden Compass | © Story Chief

Wang was kidding but not really kidding when she said we need to get our souls back aka stop selling out to ad tech, with these 3 top takeaways:

  1. Big data had gotten us farther away from our customers. We’ve been expecting it to be a magical solution to help us understand our customers.
  2. That’s why we need thick data so we can understand the customer. (Thick data: Precious data from humans that captures their emotions and stories.)
  3. How do we best mathematically scale human models into reliable and meaningful data models?


👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

Say it louder for the people in the back!

4. Susan Lindner, Founder and CEO of Emerging Media

As a cultural anthropologist, Susan Lindner knows a good story when she hears one because she’s a natural storyteller herself.

“The condom was the one cool piece of disruptive technology for prostitutes in Thailand.”

She should know, because she spent years in Thai brothels in the late-90s working to reduce the spread of HIV and promote job training and education for sex workers. In her own words, she helped these women to “take back their own lives and be in charge of their destinies.

This particular story is heavy in shock value, but there is a moral.

“You can’t be a hypocrite.”

Authenticity in every story drives what’s going on inside to match what’s going on outside. That employee voice (e.g. through employee generated blogs) is how you get to where you want to be.

I was fortunate to catch up with Susan Lindner after she delivered her keynote.

I asked her simply, “Is it easier or harder for startups to find that voice?”

She answered, “Good news for Story Chief and other startups / scale ups. Right now AT THE START is the best time to find your brand’s voice!”

5. David Goldberg, Co-founder and CEO of Founders Pledge

Similar to “the 5 winning entrepreneurs” who were awarded funding from Chivas Venture, Goldberg believes in giving.

“Why do we only have one Elon Musk?” — David Goldberg

According to Goldberg, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is all well and good, but it’s not the be all and end all, and could possibly even be damaging in the long run.

Ultimately, giving directly to charities is the smartest way “to do good.”

So how do you give to the best charities?

Goldberg stresses the importance of following data when choosing a charity, “instead of following anecdotes and stories and feelings.”

His recommendation?

GiveDirectly (Send money directly to people living in extreme poverty).

Conquering The Tower at The Next Web 2018

Last but not least, 80 top startups went head-to-head before an all-star jury including Bindi Karia, Craig Cannon, Luciana Lixandru and Bedy Yang.


TNW’s Pitch Tower: A custom-built (three-floor) gladiator-style pitching tower.

The Next Web Amsterdam
The Tower is all it’s 3-story glory
All-smiles pre-pitch
Ekaterina Kazakova of Blendr.io
The Next Web Conference
Valeri Potchekailov of StoryChief..io
Evelien de Vries of Flickfeeder
Startup Pitch
Much thanks to The Next Web!

© Story Chief

Story Chief had the honor of throwing down the gauntlet for startup pitches in the finale of the Marketing2020 vertical, alongside 7 other impressive startups.

Our very own CEO and Co-Founder of Story Chief, Valeri Potchekailov crushed it.

Our pitch?

“Story Chief is an easy-to-use content marketing tool which allows you to push your articles multichannel with one click.
You can also use Story Chief for content planning, online collaboration and hiring freelancers who can write content for you. Also If you don’t have a blog or a thought leadership website, Story Chief will generate one for you, no tech setup required.”

True Story.

The future is in content marketing!

Why not schedule a demo?

We’d love to have a chance to show you ourselves.

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Jun Song
The Startup

Today: Expat single mom and Chief Storyteller at junsong.co || Back in the day: Wall Streeter, Restaurateur, Big Brother 4 U.S. Winner