Web Summit ‘never perfect’ says Cosgrave as first day runs smoothly

Attendees react positively to tech conference’s move from Dublin to Lisbon

"Web Summit is never perfect. But if we find something wrong we fix it," the tech conference's chief executive and cofounder, Paddy Cosgrave, said on the first full day of the event in the Portugese capital, Lisbon.

Answering questions, he compared running the three-day event with running a software company: constantly improving and upgrading. One example is the attendees’ badges, which have been sized to fit in a standard jeans pocket; given rounded edges so they don’t start to degrade; and given custom-made lanyards so people can see the names written on them.

It was inevitable that questions about the previous night’s “technical glitch” would come up. Mr Cosgrave took great pains to explain that it was his mobile network, rather than the event wifi, that had caused the hiccup.

On Tuesday, things seemed to go more smoothly, and the summit proved to be a bit more of a polished affair. Among the myriad of speakers were, Nissan-Renault boss Carlos Ghosn, local sports star and Dream Football founder Luis Figo and his Brazil colleague Ronaldinho.

Bigger things

Walking the show floor, it is clear the event has its sights on bigger things. But where does the Web Summit go from here? “Our focus is on the next three days – from Friday we’ll focus on 2017,” Mr Cosgrave said.

That’s not strictly true though. The tickets for next year are already on sale, with a two-for-one offer available on the site. So the event already has one eye on the future even before the doors closed on the opening ceremony.

The general reaction to the Web Summit’s move has been positive. The start-ups which were given their booth space on the first full day of the show reported good contact with investors. This is the whole point of getting to the Web Summit in the first place for many of them.

The most well-know story is about how the Web Summit was instrumental in helping get Uber $37 million in funding, when Sherpa Ventures cofounder Scott Stanford and Uber founder Travis Kalanick met in a pub after the Web Summit in 2011. Everyone hopes to be that start-up at some point in the future.

Deals of that magnitude haven’t been announced this year, but Mr Cosgrave said he was sure things were happening behind the scenes which would bear fruit in the days ahead.