Web Summit wonders

Paddy Cosgrave on stage
Founder of the Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, welcoming speakers on stage during the 2nd summit day.

Described as “the best technology conference on the planet”, the Web Summit took place on 4th–6th of November in Dublin Ireland. With amazing experiences from the Finnish equivalent SLUSH, I was determined to see how an event double in size is actually made happen. So, I travelled to Dublin.

Volunteer adventures

In addition to visiting the event, I chose to volunteer for work. Volunteers were a huge part of making the event happen, with around 1.400 other volunteers I got to see what it’s like to organise a 3-day event with 20.000 attendees, 2.000 startups, 500 speakers, 1.000 members of the media.

After getting picked as one of the volunteers I was allocated to work with the media team. For three days I saw what happened inside the Media Village with dozens of journalists working on their pieces and often under tremendous stress.

What was really helpful for them to stay energetic was the awesome food and coffee they (and us volunteers there) got to enjoy. The Happy Pear, an Irish organic shop and restaurant based in Greystones, made sure we all got a dose of healthy food and caffeine.

Happy Pear
The Happy Pear team at work.

Us volunteers were found interesting by some of the journalists too. One, wrote a story about our team on the Irish Times, which nicely elaborates on how different the backgrounds of all the volunteers were.

Top 3 speeches

As I was working on all three days of the Summit, I was not able to see all the incredible speakers in action. Of the ones I got to see live or later check out online, my top 3 are:

For you & your customers, moments matter

Lew Cirne, the Chief Data Nerd from New Relic as his Twitter description says, had a truly valid point.

“Life is too short for bad software!”.

– Lew Cirne, The New Relic

Lew’s presentation highlighted how incredibly bad user experience many enterprise software still provide their users with. It’s quite ironic that employees use far more efficient, smart and nice software at home than they do at work. It used to be the other way around.

Lew further emphasised the importance of software by stating that the most valuable thing we will ever have is TIME. According to an E-marketer survey people spend approximately 6 hours a day in front of software: Why would we want to spend our time using bad software?

See the interview of Lew Cirne that nicely sums up his speech:

Gilt edged, Michelle Peluso in conversation

On Wednesday the Centre stage was taken by the Gilt CEO Michelle Peluso.

She was interviewed about her management style, which is already become a trademark of hers. Michelle sees a manager’s task is to edit and amplify. A manager has to understand what’s going on in the company, make sure the teams stay focused on what’s most important and to amplify that. All this is done by knowing your team. In Michelle’s case this means that she doesn’t have a regular desk but she moves around the office to make sure she actually knows everybody. Dedication!

“…for people to give their all, they have to believe they are part of the mission and vision of the company and that people at the top of the company are looking after their career paths.”

– Michelle Peluso

Take a look at Michelle’s speech:

The key habit of highly effective companies

Justin Rosenstein, co-creator of Asana, a company that aims to get rid of email in teamwork, talked about efficiency in his speech.

“Teams and individuals need to know exactly what they need to do and yes, software is one big part of this, however not the only one”. According to Rosenstein, a human element is needed – mainly leadership. It is a leaders job to provide that clarity.

“The primary factor for success is clarity.”

– Justin Rosenstein

Leaders should work relentlessly to provide clarity of purpose, of plan and of responsibility. This comes very close to effective internal communication, which is a big part of our team’s daily life at booncon PIXELS too. Rosenstein continues by stating that without a clear, positive effect on the world, no one will stay motivated and keep working on any task for long. As examples of companies with a clear mission communicated throughout their brand he mentioned Google, Facebook and Airbnb. He challenged the audience by asking “If your company became wildly successful, how would the world be different?”. Good food for thought.

When that purpose is clear, it is the responsibility of leaders to make sure it is and stays clear for the whole team.

You can see Justin’s speech here:

In addition to these three speeches I was positively surprised by Eva Longoria’s talk (she’s way more than a Desperate Housewife!) and extremely impressed by the 24-year-old Stripe co-Founder, John Collison.

To see all the videos from the event, check out the Web Summit Youtube channel.

And for interesting interviews by RTE, click here 🙂

No Wi-Fi

Despite the awesomeness of the event and how successfully it was expanded from a 400 attendee event just four years ago to a 20,000 attendee today, there was one major problem.

Ironically, the Wi-Fi was not really working. It kept dying and when working, it tested the nerves and patience of a very tech-savvy crowd – when’s the last time you waited for something to load for over 2 minutes??

This issue was not a minor detail. Paddy Cosgrave commented on it after the event on an article by the Irish Times saying, the event might have to leave Ireland if the Wi-Fi problem isn’t fixed. I surely hope they can fix it and invite the tech world back to beautiful Dublin next year 🙂

The Web Summit was a perfect kickoff for an eventful November that continues next week with the amazing SLUSH, hope to see you there!! #comingtoslush

Over and out.

booncon PIXELS is an international digital design studio in the heart of Helsinki.

Pretty code. Smart design.

booncon PIXELS