For this reason we were so excited to have two of our own attend this monumental event in the tech world and, as you can imagine, we were itching to get all the details once they got back. Rouz and Bob, two of the three co-founders of Artbees, sat down with us as a team to share what surprised them, what lasting takeaways they gained from their interactions and observations, and some great advice for creatives, dreamers and entrepreneurs in the making.
What Were The Main Hot Topics Buzzing at The 2016 Web Summit?
Rouz: “The hot topic of the web summit? Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence! There were many booths that were related with AR and AI. This prompted us to begin considering integrating VR and AR experience into our own web design. This may seem like a bold or premature consideration, but I want to invest some time and thought into this prospect. Maybe it’s too futuristic or too intense, but if this web summit taught us anything it was to never underestimate your own capacity and how quickly the landscape of design and expectations for user-centered experience can change. When you set the bar higher than what you consider to be realistic, as a team especially, you can collectively reach that level.
This all got me to consider the prospect of moving our community to a new platform and a new vision that would be completely different from anything they’d ever used before.”
What Should Others Considering Going to The 2017 Web Summit Expect?
Rouz: “Well, to be honest, we thought we were going to be spend most of our time listening to talks of famous and successful people in our sector, taking copious notes and trying to absorb every word, but when you get there you realize logistically that’s not so realistic. There are thousands of people in this venue and so much happening at the same time that trying to catch every talk will end up with you straining to hear anything and distracted by the bustle of people. You can’t really hear the talks or get the full impact of the lessons and personal experiences being shared when you’re in a huge crowd.”
Bob: “Right, but don’t start asking yourself ‘then why go at all?’ just yet! What we did find tremendously beneficial was that with the Web Summit App that was provided for all attendants, you were able to schedule meetings to meet with specific people in person. This allowed us to connect with people who otherwise would be almost impossible to meet and ask thoughtful questions face to face; even in just 10 minutes we were able to learn a lot.”
Rouz: “Another talk that inspired us was from Gary Vaynerchuk. The topic was to not to be afraid of following your ideas based on other people’s opinions. This seems a bit of a typical life lesson that we hear every once in awhile but when it comes to entrepreneurship you should take it seriously because it can kind of haunt you if you allow it to. As an entrepreneur it is possible that you are exposed or want to be exposed to many people’s ideas and advices. Especially those gurus and high profile investors. Though keep in mind those same people may give you harsh feedback; you may feel disappointed but it’s still important to listen even though not all of those comments may be true.”
What Were Your Biggest Web Summit Takeaways?
Rouz: “There was one talk we caught with the CEO of Intercom, Des Traynor, who was discussing something I think all businesses face. He explained that when you have an idea, it usually first starts with a problem. You then start developing a product that solves that problem. But the problem is not static and unchanging. Over time as your product develops, the problem itself may change and what so many of us do is become fixated on the development and improvement of our product, often forgetting what the initial problem was in the first place and, worse, not seeing that the initial problem has completed changed. You have to keep the relevance of your product and the problem it solves at the forefront of the direction of your enterprise.
You have to keep the relevance of your product and the problem it solves at the forefront of the direction of your enterprise.
We realized there were a few questions we needed to always go back to:
- What was the actual problem we were trying to solve?
- Is that still the same problem?
- What new problems have risen since we started?
- How can we shape our product to solve different problems?
- When is it time to let go and start a new solution-oriented product?
Intercom has taken this approach and you can see the direct benefits of that approach.
Rouz: “Do not underestimate the impact your marketing campaign can have on your overall business. This sounds obvious but especially when the founders of a company are “technical people” (me and Bob), they are very vulnerable to ignore marketing or only dedicate a minimal amount of capital toward marketing strategies. They invest all of their time on technical issues, focusing on developing the product or service and almost forget about the real money-making strategies! Marketing is such a crucial aspect for a company to actually showcase those products we work so hard on to the right group of individuals! Take your marketing seriously and invest in people that have that different skillset and approach than you to do it!”
Your investor can offer you a goldmine of resources, connections, sector-specific expertise, and strategy—this is actually the priceless investment you need to make so choose your investors wisely.
Bob: “Right, and something that struck me in another conversation was that the relationship you have with your investors is not solely focused on the exchange of capital. Your investor can offer you a goldmine of resources, connections, sector-specific expertise, and strategy—this is actually the priceless investment you need to make so choose your investors wisely. They shouldn’t just be bringing cash to the table; the right investor can offer you invaluable knowledge and insight that will help you take your vision to the next level.”
Rouz: “Then as we discussed, we got a good reminder from Intercom’s CEO to keep a constant eye on the problem that initiated your idea and product and always be aware of how that problem is evolving or if it disappears entirely.”
How Do You Know If You’re Ready to Go to The Web Summit?
Rouz: “Because you are ready. You’re a dreamer, a thinker, a creative with a driven and curious mind. That was the common ground everyone there had so don’t let that voice creep in your head asking ‘who do you think you are to go to this kind of event?’ You don’t need to be an entrepreneur with a perfectly laid out plan and strategy; you don’t even need to have an exact idea of what you want to do. The atmosphere and platform at the web summit will allow you to explore all those question marks with people who are more than willing to share their creative energy and best practices. This is a place where people gather to share ideas, add fuel to creativity and provide tips on what to avoid.”
You’re a dreamer, a thinker, a creative with a driven and curious mind. That was the common ground everyone there had so don’t let that voice creep in your head asking ‘who do you think you are to go to this kind of event?’
Bob: “Exactly, I mean bringing 53,000 IT specialists, entrepreneurs, artists, and political leaders all together, you can feel the energy increasing and shifting your mind to focus primarily on finding better solutions and bigger ideas. When you’re meeting with people that have so many different ideas, solutions, pitches…it creates this kind ‘out of this world’ experience for yourself to rethink your own approach, refocus your self-awareness, and reassess your direction, strategy and approach to your work.”
It’s no secret that after the 2011 global economic crisis, thousands of new university graduates emigrated throughout Europe. One of the countries hit the hardest by this phenomena was Portugal. Although Portugal, like many other countries, emerged from the recession around 2014, there was still a lagging recovery.
This may explain then why after the last five editions of the Web Summit, also referred to as the “Davos for geeks”, had been hosted in Dublin, Portugal’s political leaders and entrepreneurs were more than willing to host the 6th edition in their beautiful capital of Lisbon. In addition to this effort, Portugal’s economic and political leaders put many incentives into place to make Portugal an oasis for startups, new graduates, business owners, and creative young people.
Tax breaks and incentives aren’t all there is to be enjoyed though! Rouz and Bob probably spent an equal amount of time talking about the beautiful architecture overlooking cobblestone streets, the warm and hospitable energy of the people, delicious food, and surprisingly cheap prices.