27 November 2023 1198 words, 5 min. read Latest update : 27 November 2023

Websummit: advantages, disadvantages, and opportunities

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
In this article, you'll find our feedback on Websummit 2023 and our reasons for wanting to have a booth at Websummit 2024. Read our advice on how to get the most out of this not-to-be-missed event.

The IntoTheMinds team and I travelled to Lisbon to attend Websummit 2023. We quickly decided to go to Websummit 2024 and have our own stand. I’ll explain why we decided this and our experience in this article. If you’re looking for tourist advice, this article won’t meet your expectations. On the other hand, if you’re looking for professional feedback, this honest and transparent article should satisfy you.

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Events inside Websummit Altice Arena

The Websummit’s central hall, also known as the “Altice Arena,” welcomed the most prestigious guests and thousands of spectators.

Events inside Websummit

The main reason we went to Websummit was to attend the conferences. I attended very few for practical reasons, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph. But my colleagues were able to attend continuously for 3 days.

What you need to know is that there are several types of Websummit conferences:

  • The most prestigious guests generally speak in the central hall, which can accommodate several thousand spectators (“Altice Arena” named after the sponsor).
  • Each hall also has 2 “stages” with several hundred seats, where presentations follow one another.
  • Some stands have a private stage on which speakers related to their theme or product are invited.
  • Spaces are reserved for “Masterclasses,” specialized conferences on a particular subject.

Conferences

My experience of conferences in the central hall or on the “official” stages is that the presentations are rarely very specialized. They remain at a superficial level, and it’s not uncommon for them to be clichéd. You’re unlikely to learn anything if you specialize in a particular field. On the other hand, the guests often promote their companies (some even pay to do so), impacting the discourse’s depth and interest. This was my impression when I attended the “Will GenAI transform marketing and advertising? The title was very appealing, but the content was ultimately very hollow. All my team members shared this opinion.

Masterclass

From what my colleagues tell me, the Masterclasses are on a completely different level. So, even if you’re an expert, you’re sure to learn something. The only problem will be finding a place because huge queues have formed for some of them. Places are extremely limited, as they are held in closed areas in each of the “pavilions” (the exhibition halls, numbered 1 to 5).

Business opportunities at Websummit

The conference on AI and marketing data was given in one of the satellite rooms of Websummit Pavilion 3.

Business opportunities at Websummit

Websummit is also a gigantic meeting place for startups and more mature companies. There are 3 levels:

  • Alpha: the most recent startups
  • Beta: more mature startups
  • Grow: growing companies

Stands can be rented for the day or the show’s duration. Turnover is quite high, as many startups opt for a one-day presence. On the one hand, this is noticeably short, but on the other, it leads to an exceedingly high turnover of companies and multiplies the opportunities for meetings.

Canvassing: a real pleasure

One of my colleagues and I concentrated on technology watch and canvassing for 3 days. The exhibitors were very approachable, and it was easy to discuss and pitch our services. The results exceeded our expectations. Overall, we found Websummit more interesting than Vivatech. The companies at Websummit are there to do business, whereas, at Vivatech, some are just there to show off, not look for opportunities. At Websummit, there’s an energy and a desire to do business that we have yet to find elsewhere.

How to canvass effectively

Targeting the companies, you would like to talk to is important to save time. The show is big, the work is tiring, and you will only reasonably have time to meet up to 10 companies daily if you move from stand to stand. This targeting can be done via the app (see next paragraph) or directly on-site:

  • Each startup is described in 2 lines above its stand.
  • Companies are classified according to their stage of growth, which simplifies targeting.

In our case, we knew that our market research services would only be of interest to sufficiently mature B2B companies. Therefore, we concentrated on “Beta” and “Grow” companies.

If you’re shy or don’t know how to approach prospects at a trade show like this, get together with some of your compatriots. When there’s no language barrier, making your case is often easier.

Websummit app: the best of all

My colleague Kevin is trying out a virtual reality application at one of the Websummit stands.

Websummit app: the best of all

Websummit’s mobile application is the best I’ve seen so far. My only regret is that I didn’t discover and upload it until a few days before the show.

The positive points of the Websummit app are as follows:

  • Searching for companies and participants is easy, thanks to the numerous filters.
  • Easy to get in touch with the people listed in the directory: 100% response rate to my requests to contact startups exhibiting at the show
  • Easy badge scanning and 1-click export of contacts

Areas for improvement:

  • The contact card does not contain the telephone number. Remember to ask the person whose badge you’re scanning for it or ask for a business card.
  • The application is only available on smartphones or tablets. If you want to prospect effectively, the same app available from a computer would have been extremely useful.
Websummit start

Some stands try to differentiate themselves to attract customers. Here, the Austrian stand.

Should you go from start to finish?

Trade shows that span several days generally propose a different level of intensity from the first to the last day. At SIAL, for example, the first day is often a set-up day, and the exhibitors have already left by the last day. At Vivatech, only the first and second days are worthwhile. The stands will be empty by Saturday, and the exhibitors will have gone home. As for Sunday, let’s not even talk about it.

Websummit, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The show is packed the whole time, and 30 minutes before closing, there are still conferences and presentations. The winner of the pitch competition, the central event for startups, was announced 90 minutes before closing time in the central hall in front of several thousand people.

So yes, you must attend the whole Websummit.

Websummit stand Altice Arena

A conference in the central conference room (“Altice Arena”)

Do I need a stand at Websummit or not?

Suppose you go to Websummit with a limited number of staff (4 in our case) to maximize your chances of meeting prospects. As I explained above, you can make 10 appointments daily (also remember the distance between stands).

A stand is essential to optimize your chances of meeting potential customers. Of course, you also need a product or service that is “tech” oriented or fits into this ecosystem. If these conditions are met and your product is good, Websummit can be a real growth booster. Your stand will enable you to:

  • Meet visitors
  • Continue canvassing other exhibitors

In this way, you’ll combine the best of both worlds:

  • Maximization of meetings with prospects on your stand
  • Canvassing at the rest of the show

 



Posted in Entrepreneurship.

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