Image: Web Summit organiser Paddy Cosgrove talking on the Centre Stage
Last week a colleague and I attended the Web Summit, held in Dublin Ireland, for the first time. Now in its fourth year, the event is hosted by the Royal Dublin Society, an excellent venue for such a large event as it’s stretched over a fairly large area. The Summit is a tech-based one and enjoyed attendees and exhibitors numbering well over 20,000 on each of the three days that it was held.
For those of us interested in any aspect of technology, from web design, social media and marketing, the event is, I will first point out, well worth a visit. Its exhibitors are made up of a huge amount of tech startups and investors such as Google attend in order to see where they can best invest cash into up and coming companies.
Speakers from all Walks of Life
Speakers at the Summit are numerous too and amongst them you’ll find players from all of the major tech companies and publishers, as well as some celebrity guests such as Bono and Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria. I particularly enjoyed talks from ex-Apple CEO John Sculley, who of course discussed Steve Jobs and women in tech, amongst other things. At times, some of the talks were so well attended that there were queues to get into the various stages, quite a feat with so much going on.
As well as talks and exhibitors, startups also got the chance to enter the prestigious PITCH competition. This year, the much sought after BETA award was won by Portuguese company Codacy, a code review automation app designed to make software development more efficient.
Jaime Jorge, co-founder of Codacy, was ecstatic about the result. “It’s mind blowing and crazy – I wasn’t expecting it at all. This is huge exposure for our product, and for start-ups in Portugal as well,” he said.
The ALPHA award went to UK company BaseStone, which produces software for the construction industry to help with collaboration and cut down on paperwork. It’s also extremely useful for tracking important documentation such as that relating to compliance issues like health and safety.
PITCH candidates were required to go through a series of rounds with 200 other finalists before progressing to the final when they had to pitch their idea to an audience of 5000 people – scary stuff. However, it paid off as the winners received 10,000 Euros in cash and mentoring from Coca Cola in a trip to Atlanta, Georgia.
Alex Siljanovski, CEO and founder of BaseStone said “It’s fantastic – the cash prize is going to go into the company, but it may not be as much after tonight’s celebrations! It’s great for our profile and credibility. The timing is perfect and it’s absolutely brilliant.”
You can see Alex’s winning pitch in the video below.
There were plenty of new social startups attending too. We spoke to several that offered anonymous social networking which would suggest that privacy concerns have prompted a new generation of social apps. For me though, the developer’s room was the most enjoyable as we talked to many innovative software creators that had great new products.
Such as SmartMunk, a Germany company fronted at the Summit by ‘Idea Munk and Owner’ Andrea Gadieb who showed us how her visualization software works for analyzing text. FeedMap allows companies to involve customers in optimisation projects and is ideal for market research companies.
Then there was Weevify, a digital publishing platform that automatically adds semantic content to save you the hassle of creating schema markup manually. The app makes it simple to publish stories quickly using its WYSIWYG editor so it’s ideal for those who can’t get their head around platforms such as WordPress. Weevify does require you to migrate away from platforms such as WordPress though, rather than being capable of integrating it into your existing site. However, according to founder Milan Cvejić this isn’t difficult and the company provides technical support and tailored solutions for enterprise.
Moovly also caught our eye – it’s a resource that allows you to create animated content with no need for any graphic design or animation experience. Using the drag and drop interface you can create moving stories for your brand and browse the Moovly marketplace for additional content to add to your projects.
An Event Worth Your Time
These are a tiny selection of what was available to see at the Web Summit as there were a total of 2,160 startups exhibiting and 700 investors attending. With that in mind, if you’re a software developer or entrepreneur with a great tech idea, then it’s more than worth your while attending. Or of course you could just go to listen to one of the 614 speakers, to enjoy the Dublin night life at the Night Summit (consisting of pub crawls, sadly I didn’t attend these), or to sample the excellent (complimentary) food as prepared by Good Food Ireland.
For marketers and SEO professionals, or anyone in business, there was a lot of apps that could make a difference to your workload – collaboration apps, workflow, marketing, cloud, security, you name it. With that in mind, I’ll be featuring some of the better digital marketing related apps in coming weeks for you to get to know.
There was also some cool hardware to be found at the event, I had a good look at a couple of 3D printers for example and AI (Artificial Intelligence) was represented both in the Build room and in many of the talks.
The only blot on the landscape was the Wi-Fi, which despite the organisers wanting to handle themselves, was taken on by the RDS. Sadly, it proved to be too much for them and for the entire three days we struggled to get online for any length of time – perhaps half an hour and then you were kicked off due to an authentication problem. And if there’s something you want to get right at the second biggest tech event in the world that’s called the Web Summit, it’s the web itself.