HomeFundingDublin Web Summit 2012: A rundown of the event

Dublin Web Summit 2012: A rundown of the event

If you’ve been to Dublin at least once, the chances are that you know what Temple Bar stands for. With this in mind, very briefly let me tell you what I saw at the Dublin Web Summit this week. The event Paddy Cosgrove brought to life in Dublin is already a hit in Europe; this year’s edition attracted 200 speakers, more than 4000 people and around 300 exhibitors, including 250 startups from all over the world.

The conferences, interviews and debates followed at a fast pace across three stages, most of the time simultaneously. On two additional stages, 50 startups competed for the ‘Spark of Genius’ €100K award. The pitch from the finalist contestants brought enthusiasm to the main stage. First, Ovelin introduced WildChords, a leading iPad app that teaches playing guitar as it were a game. The already-famous Finnish startup could very well take the first prize. Following them was Vibease, the Singapore- and San Francisco-based inventor of the long-distance remote-controlled sex toy. I don’t know what the success of this business will be, but it certainly gave hundreds of us in the audience a moment to laugh; for you to have an idea, it all ended with one of the female judges asking where the male version is, only to receive an explanation that a man has two hands, just to answer back “women too”. The third finalist was the Swedish startup Tictail, a free store-creating service with a design and social commerce twist. Recent launched, but with some fast traction and good feedback, it certainly confirms the feeling that e-commerce is back.

The last finalist and winner of the competition was SmartThings, an open platform for the Web of Things to become real on a large scale. These guys made roughly $1.2 million in a Kickstarter campaign last September on pre-orders for both the hub and sensors that can automate the environment around you. With this additional prize, it looks like the future is even more promising.

Let me emphasize that all finalists had something to do with the physical world. I think this is a clear trend these days – a complete merging of the virtual and real worlds or, in a more appropriate description, online becoming ubiquitous. We’ll see much more of this and not only from Mountain View’s cars or Google glasses. We have powerful, connected computers in our pockets and there’s virtually a sensor/receptor for anything you can think of, at a price close to ridiculous. So to you entrepreneurs out there – please thrill us.

I could not end my presence at the summit without commenting on the organisation. I guess the event’s huge growth can justify much of these points, but I sincerely hope that the team re-thinks some of the elements they featured this year, or at least tried to. A first comment goes to the schedules; there were at least three apps covering the agenda and the only way to know what was going to happen was to be there at any moment. This makes me think of some common startup advice: focus on the solution, not the technology. A second comment goes to investor and startup meetings, which was quite chaotic, which only ultra-flexible investors and extremely avid entrepreneurs can bear. A third and final comment goes to the startup exhibition, where I was also exhibiting with one of the invited startups. Participating startups filled in detailed company profiles twice at the request of the organisation, but these were not available for anyone participating. At the same time, there was one app and one website where you could find some of the other people participating, though not everyone, and not always with one’s consent. The several startups I talked with had this parallel summit, a self-organising networking event arising from the absence of anything else, faithful to the spirit of the entrepreneurs, but then again, settled in the absence of the organisation. What makes a great organisation is not the great marketing that is thrown in everyone’s eyes; it is the great product that solves every customer’s problems.

Having said that, I know that many people have worked hard and this will last for some months after the summit. In any case, let us and the organisation know what you would like to see at the largest tech conference in Europe next year.

Speaking of events, do you have your ticket yet for the upcoming EU-Startups Summit?

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Reinaldo Ferreira
Reinaldo Ferreira
Reinaldo Ferreira is a serial entrepreneur and investor in technology companies. He lives in Porto and writes mostly about Portuguese startups and technology topics.

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