The city was bursting with people wearing badges. You could spot your kindred souls just by seeing the blue lanyards. Finding yourself in Lisbon, here in Portugal, you’d think we’d be speaking our own language, but no: from November 7-10, the first contact you’d have with ANYONE—be it the lady from the teeny tiny fruit shop to the conference speaker at the MEO Arena—would be in English.
Lisbon transformed itself to welcome the more than 50,000 geeks that made their way to Web Summit. Taking into account it was the first event of its kind and size to take place in our country, I think we behaved quite well. Yes, 3,000 attendees were left outside the main stage on opening day and that was a big shock for everyone—believe me, I had paid my ticket, was psyched to be at the opening ceremony… and stood freezing on the steps amidst the crowd watching through a screen.
But let’s not get caught up in the logistic details and cut to chase: all the tech revolution.
There were thousands of startups from every sector you can imagine: Entertainment, Health, Sports, Fashion, Socializing, Learning… What held this diverse group together was the fact that they were using new(-ish) technology. Whether touting apps made from scratch or adaptations of existing software and hardware, people showed how innovation can be achieved in the smallest of ideas.
But there weren’t only startups there. You could see and experience new ventures of household names like Microsoft, Google, or Tesla.
You always know that going to a conference (or convention) is going to test your agility. How’s your sprinting time? With the stands of companies changing on a daily basis, plus the huge number of presentations, I found myself running franticly to catch all I wanted. Needless to say, sacrifices were made.
But I managed to hear some captivating speakers on a variety of topics that truly interest me. There was time for new marketing ideas and tools at the PandaConf, tons about the importance of continuing to make relevant content for your increasingly demanding audience at ContentMakers, and more VR and AR enlightening at the TalkRobot stage, while FutureSocieties and Modum offered different views on how we can learn and teach people to be bolder and embrace tech innovation by applying new methods to old business and creative models.
All that was asked in return was that you remembered their words and took their advice into account when your time came. People want entrepreneurship to move forward embracing the technological advances we continue to conquer.
At Night Summit, when you had worn yourself out all day, it felt nice talking to the other attendees about work, yes, but more about the countries they came from and what they thought about current events—remember that a certain election happened right in the middle of the conference, so that was a topic that immediately permeated every conversation from then on.
I could go into detail at how excited I was to finally meet Paddy Cosgrave in person or how cool it was too listen to Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk about film and creativity. I was disappointed to miss an interview with Sophia, the AI robot created by Ben Goertzel—that looks disturbingly like a character out of Ex-Machina…
My head bubbled with ideas upon listening to Baobab Studios’ CEO Maureen Fan and film producer Michael Shamberg, and I got many ideas strolling down the Entertainment aisle of startups. I felt the urge to do something. To act. To be part of this moving innovative cluster of people who’ll bring you the Future, no matter what field you work in. Because in the end it will all spread through our lives, from the way we dress to how we talk to friends or how we drive a car.