#WEBSUMMIT Inspirations

16 November 2015 Maciej Brzezinski

During the early days of November ’15 we had the opportunity to attend to one of the largest conferences in Europe devoted to Startups / New Ideas / Technology – Websummit in Dublin, Ireland. As self proclaimed on the http://Websummit.net – “The World’s greatest Tech Fest”. We went there with many expectations and things in mind but mainly our trip was about looking for inspirations, meeting new people and ideas. For those unfamiliar with the event just a few facts & figures to get you acquainted:

  • > 30,000 attendees
  • 1000 speakers
  • 100s of startups showcasing their innovative products and services
  • many different sub-summits / streams, including ones on: enterprise software, sports, fashion, media, marketing, software development

So let’s get to the list of presentations / talks / events that were the most inspiring or worth remembering.

Are you afraid?

This question was posed on a panel with Michael Dell (for those living under the rock for last 30+ years it’s the guy that incorporated Dell Computers – a company that currently “owns” 11,2% of the PC industry and is on third place in the world in this segment with many years on the leaders position). Michael Dell, after taking Dell Computers private two years ago is currently tackling the most impressive challenge yet – joining forces with another tech giant EMC (a deal worth 67 bn dollars – greatest merger in IT history). So what did Mr Dell answer to this question? He said his is afraid that that the new venture might not meet the expectations of the shareholders (but it sounded more like courtesy than anything he had in mind, like he already knew that the merger will be a success). As far as fear is concerned, he also gave some great advice to all current and those who want to become entrepreneurs: “Don’t be afraid of risk, you have to embrace risk to grow”.

Unusual business as usual

One of big surprises for me was that on the Beta stream of startup contest was won by a startup called Bizimply (https://www.bizimply.com/). Don’t get me wrong, I do think that they have a good / great service coming, but it seemed a little less world-changing / mind-boggling in comparison to other participants. So why I am putting them in my inspirations – because these guys showed that good product & execution can also be used to disrupt current market. The product does not need to be super-innovative – down the line it’s just another business management app delivered in SaaS model, but done with proper attention to quality and good execution on delivery by sales & marketing one can achieve good results.

Be afraid, be very, very afraid

Paranoia inducing talk by Nico Sell from Wickr / Wickr Foundation . You’ll never use Skype or Twitter after you hear one of Nico’s talks 😉 Nico, besides scaring the hell out of social media users;), gave some nice insights on what the Wickr Foundation is doing and man, would I like those guys were around when I was a kid. I’d love to attend one of the workshops, because let’s be hones – who wouldn’t like to learn how to hack an FBI eavesdropping machine. Wickr guys also learn kids (and adults) how to go “invisible” in the digital, connected age where your every move is tracked  by credit card (yes those chips can be tracked), phone, car, refrigerator and a countless number of connected devices that surround us.

Do you know, that you are chasing phantoms?

This one was close to my heart as my hobby is bug investigation 😉 (although I don’t have currently time to devote much time to this activity due to other company obligations). The presentation delivered by XXX pinpointed situations where a developer might suspect that the error he or she is trying to resolve is not related to the analysed code, but is somehow related to the environment. It occurs that the approach is similar regardless if you’re developing on Java, .NET or any other platform. If the code seems OK and you cannot see a deterministic path to reproduce the problem and you get sometimes random errors in different areas of the application than you may be chasing a phantom. In such a situation the main question to ask yourself is – “Is the application / code that you’re analyzing sharing resources with other apps?”. The answer will be simple “Yes” in situations if you have, let’s say, multiple apps running under the same JVM (like many apps on single instance of your JEE server). But this is the most obvious and rare situation. Currently most of our environments are virtualized (does not matter if its in-house infrastructure or some SaaS / PaaS/ IaaS).

Startup Pitching Contest

During the event there was a startup contest being held. The startups were divided into groups (alpha, beta). The division to groups was based on money gathered (those who had less financing were in the alpha group). The contest was being held at special pitching stages scattered around the venue. Each startup had just a few minutes (4 as I remember correctly) to present their idea. The pitch was followed by questions from the jury. Based on the pitch and the answers jury decided which of the startups will go to the next stage (it was some kind of tournament ladder involved). During the last day the startups that were left on the battlefield competed for the “gold”. For me it was a great experience to see how people are able to present their idea, show the team building the solution, analyse potential market and present lots of information on their company in a clear and concise way (at least most them did). Observing the contest was a refreshing and inspiring and personally for me the best part of the whole Websummit.

Summary

The trip to Dublin, Ireland for the Websummit conference was a valuable experience. I can recommend it actually to startuppers / settled companies / visitors who love technology:

  • if you are running a startup I think it is a good way of promoting your ideas and company, look for VCs as their scouts run around the venue looking for a companies they can recommend
  • if you are a settled enterprise looking for ideas, inspirations, ways to invest your money surplus then Websummit feels like a “candy shop” with lots young, ambitious companies to choose from
  • if you are just a visitor who wants to know what ideas are popping up around the globe, then you’ll feel satisfied with the overview of the market

I think I need to start getting ready for Lisbon 🙂

 

 

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