Web Summit 2022: what you missed and how to be ready for next year

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Web Summit is a yearly tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal. This wasn’t Evil Martians’ first time in attendance, but, thanks in part to our new office in Lisbon, it made sense for us to organize two side events: Women Connect, and Bites & Bytes Founder Meetup. This was in addition to showing off imgproxy—our solution for processing images on the fly—to customers and investors at the main hall. Read on to find our impressions of the event and tips for future attendees on how to make the most of it.

At Web Summit, there was a lot of diversity: Hardware and iOT, Sustainability, Fintech, HR, Sports and Wellness, Data Science, Social Media, and more. Most came from within Europe, but there were also visitors from around the globe.

Niki with a backpack running through a conference hall with some food vendors in the background.

There was a lot of ground to cover, so it’s good to snack up

It was exciting to feel we were representing a piece of all this innovation. Sharing about our products, our clients, and the great work we do with industry leaders gave me the boost I needed to keep bringing value at work everyday. Also, every time I gave away an Evil Martian sticker the delight in the recipient’s eyes was fantastic. Energizing.

The Startup exhibition is a huge part of the Web Summit. This year we applied and were enrolled into the ALPHA startup program with the Martian COSS project imgproxy.

On November 4th, we had a dedicated booth for imgproxy (A732) alongside some other amazing startups. It was great seeing everyone swing by to discuss their image processing needs (and to hand out some awesome merch).

It was a big boost to have a steady stream of visitors at our imgproxy booth

It was a big boost to have a steady stream of visitors at our imgproxy booth

Last week was my very first Web Summit.
And if I had to describe everything that happened in one word, I would choose… energy! Tens of thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Lisbon for a few days in one place, and with them, hundreds of thousands of unique ideas. Crazy—but in a good way!

imgproxy was selected for the Startup Showcase pitch competition and for showcase in the 40 words competition—a short video pitch competition that was displayed on the various screens throughout the Web Summit pavilions. imgproxy CEO Marina Naperstak pitched on stage at the Startup Showcase.

Marina pitching imgproxy

Marina pitching imgproxy

I was honored to represent imgproxy on the largest tech stage in the world, putting our product in front of a global startup community gathered in Lisbon. Web Summit is a great opportunity for startups at any development stage: for us it was a chance to verify the product market fit and talk to our customers face to face. I’m already looking forward to next year and sharing the next chapter of our journey.

And, as mentioned, this year we organized our own meetups. This is because last year, during our first Web Summit, we struggled to find relevant technical networking. We decided to take the initiative—and it paid off. Word about us spread via dedicated Telegram and WhatsApp chats, and we were also selected for a popular curated list of side events. In general, we were pleased with the turnout.

Women Connect

With our Women Connect event, the idea was to meet up right before the Web Summit, warm up, talk about networking strategy, and empower each other.

Promotion was easy; we put together an announcement on Meetup.com in advance (about 2 months), and a bunch of people signed up. We decided to meet for coffee nearby, and a small crowd turned up made up of techies, investors, business development and marketing specialists. Despite the fact that we did 0 marketing, it was a great time.

Bites & Bytes Founder Meetup

Bites & Bytes was an RSVP-only founder gathering event. Participants were invited to share experiences in product strategy, development, growth and fund-raising centered around driving product evolution and making sure user growth happens.

A number of people talking and eating in front of a table brimming with a delicious assortment of food.

This tasted just as good as it looks

We found a picturesque rooftop in the center of the city, which, when coupled with great catering and fantastic guests, made for an excellent time.

We invited a special guest, Nikolai Liubimov, CTO at Heartex—an open source data labeling platform for Machine Learning & AI. He talked about the product growth strategy, and their work with the professional community and investors. We also had a roundtable discussion with Nikolai, Evil Martians, AnyCable CEO Irina Nazarova, and imgproxy CEO Marina Naperstak.

The founders went down memory lane and discussed the origin of each product and the tricky question of open source monetization—the biggest question in the world of commercial open source—and the importance of the community behind any open source project.

Bites & Bytes was my first opportunity to pitch AnyCable.
I loved fellow open source and dev tools people asking questions about AnyCable and building live collaboration features. Working at the imgproxy booth was super rewarding, because people, engineers from startups and larger companies, instantly understand the value of imgproxy and want to try it out. Overall, Web Summit was pretty good, and I got used to having a pineapple smoothie and paella for lunch.

Tips for next year

Finally, in preparation for next year, here are some of our Web Summit do’s and don’ts!

  1. Do set SMART goals. Specific, measurable… Think “Connect with 10 AI-focused startup founders and follow up on LinkedIn” or “Set 20 meetings with early stage investors” rather than “Get a new project” or “Raise investment”.
  2. Don’t spend too much time on irrelevant networking. Quality over quantity. Think where you can make meaningful connections that will bring you closer to your goal—be picky about events to attend, proactively reach out to relevant connections on the WS app and on LinkedIn.
  3. Do increase your chances of success by attending smaller events (like ours!)
  4. Do come prepared. Clean up your LinkedIn profile, get your QR-code ready (it’s near the search bar in the mobile app). Download and set up a profile in the Web Summit app. Polish and practice your pitch.
  5. Don’t wear yourself out. FOMO is very much real, but Web Summit is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you have time to recharge. Focus on what matters most for your goals, show up, and be your best self at each selected activity.
  6. Do make it your own. Organize events on still-uncovered topics and bring the right crowd to you.
  7. Do create fun merch it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, but it should be memorable. This year we had business cards with a QR-code leading to our curated list of Lisbon attractions on Google Maps. We got a ton of compliments on it!
  8. Do wear comfortable shoes. Trust me you are going to be doing a lot of walking. Beware: calçada, the famous Portuguese cobblestone pavements, get super slippery when wet.
  9. Don’t use cliches. Don’t try to hard sell, don’t be too persistent. Instead, make true connections, stay empathetic—be you. Try to think what value you can bring to the table in each conversation you have, whether a restaurant recommendation or an invitation to a relevant event.
  10. Do bring your team—it’s much easier to work the Web Summit if you have a shoulder to lean on. Take turns, exchange ideas, and support each other. Good company makes big events like this much more pleasant.
  11. Do follow up with your connections fast. It’s so easy to forget your newly made connections. Take a selfie and write up your mutual promises into a chat—whether it’s a Web Summit chat, LinkedIn, or WhatsApp.
  12. Do enjoy Lisbon! We live here and love the city, so if you need a good, touristy recommendation, reach out.
Vica and a number of conference attendees looking at the camera and smiling.

See you next year!

Evil Martians is a product development consultancy with offices around the world—including in Lisbon, Portugal! We work with startups and established businesses—and we get things done! So, if you have a project in need, get in touch with us!

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A product development consultancy that works with startups and established businesses, while also creating open source-based products and services