The 2015 edition of the pan-European startup contest Idea Challenge sees an increase in variety and internationality. The series of events re…
Photo credit: Heisenberg Media, Luca Sartoni, http://bit.ly/HF6puW
It was fun while it lasted, but now the show is over. The Pioneers Festival and Web Summit came to a close on 31 October after two days of keynotes, panels, pitches, networking and then some more networking. We went to both Vienna and Dublin, and here are our impressions - and some numbers!
Number of participants
Web Summit: nearly 10.000
Pioneers: 50% of all participants
Web Summit: 58% of all participants
Pioneers: 13% of all participants (including accelerators and incubators)
Web Summit: 7% of all participants
Web Summit: 300+
For the names of all keynote speakers and panelists go here for the Festival and here for Web Summit. Neither of the events shied away from big names, although if you look twice, you’d notice that the competition was close - Phil Libin from Evernote and Dave McClure from 500startups, for example, made sure to attend both events.
Web Summit: 97
Opportunities to exhibit, pitch and the like
Overall, both events made sure that participants stayed involved and got the most out of them. Yet, while Pioneers’ programmes seemed to target mainly startups, Web Summit organised closed events for accelerators and incubators, too.
There’s one word for it: The Hofburg. Well, two. If you want to do a festival, do it in Vienna’s Imperial Palace. The scene was grand – red carpets, chandeliers, statues, winding hallways. It accommodated three main stages, out of which the Arena was the biggest spot of attention - with good acoustics, very good visual production and camera work.
The Royal Dublin Society was a beautiful old building, very nicely (and modernly) adapted to host 10.000 people. The Summit had six stages, with a constant programme going on. It was surely the place to be, although it was a tad too loud – on a constant basis. And speaking of the size of the event, last year Web Summit reported generating 24 million euros to the local economy.
Participants could schedule meetings weeks in advance and discuss their agenda before they even met. It sure made networking more efficient. The Pioneers App was also ready to roll, although it seemed like most relied on text messages, phone calls and emails for communication.
The Summit had the My Summit App, which provided a full list of attendees, startups, speakers, the agenda. People also used it to schedule meetings and send messages.
It seemed both events experienced an overload on their first day, hence a slower WLAN connection. The second day, though, seemed to go much more smoothly. The Summit crew even sent out an “We apologise for the inconvenience” email at the beginning of Day 2. Kudos for the good service!
Striking a balance
Participants, who targeted specific investors found the opportunity to talk and exchange contacts quite handy. Also, the mingling in the hallways allowed for unplanned interactions.
The Summit participants seemed determined to make the most out of the two-day event, which is why many made sure to talk to either potential investors or industry partners.
The things participants enjoyed the most…
The most used adjectives…
…hold true for both events: “awesome”, “enthusiastic”, “exciting”, “inspirational” and by the end, predominantly “exhausting”.
So it’s time to ask...
… which one did you go to? Or perhaps the more relevant question would be, which one would you like to go to next year? At the end of the day, there’s probably no right or wrong, instead it comes down to what is it that you, personally, are looking to get out of.
From what we saw, compared and contrasted, Web Summit was bigger and somewhat more international than Pioneers. At times it almost felt like they were shooting to be the festival rather than vice versa - especially based on the social events planned after and around the Summit. That is not to say Pioneers didn’t rise to the occasion. With two night events at the end of Day 1 (and indeed a lot of participants hopped from one to the other to make the most of them) and a full-house Halloween party, the good vibes were on.
As for the business connections involved, Web Summit appeared to offer better opportunities to mix and match with investors, while Pioneers allowed for mingling with (and the discovery of) new startups, as during the two-day festival, the emphasis seemed to be on pitching events.
Make sure to set your priorities for next year! The call is on you.
The first edition of Startup Playground is on! From 8-10 November, Graz will be the hotspot for startups. Promising a great weekend, this event is aimed at individuals with creative ideas that will benefit from mentoring and networking with experts. Of course, the road to success is paved with hard work, but let’s not forget to include some entertainment on the way – the organisers at Ideentriebwerk Graz have made sure to have a social event every evening, from quiet dinners to parties, so participants stay engaged.
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