With over 60,000 people present (hailing from over 170 countries) and approximately 1,200 speakers, Web Summit happened in Lisbon for the second time, between the 4th and the 9th November. Some Sonae collaborators were at the technology summit and we've challenged three of them – Alexandre Santos, Miguel Bagulho and Tânia Calçada – to tell us about the impact they felt after an event that happens once a year since 2009, which seeks to connect the technological community to all sorts of industries.
Alexandre Teixeira Santos, Portfolio Development @ Sonae IM
"Web Summit is an overwhelming experience. It's the third time I've attended the event and I feel that it needs more and more prepreparation, moreover because it's been growing year after year. I try and avoid as much as possible the sensation of wasting many opportunities to interact with startups and investors. So, as a team, we've previously selected the startups we should try and know, considering our investment priorities, as well as the investors we really want to meet to explore co-investment opportunities.
This year, more than in previous editions, we have made an effort to split work properly and prepare an action plan to make the most of the event. We are now finishing the report we usually make on the event and moving forward with the numerous contacts we have established during Web Summit. For us, being one of the biggest and most active private investors in Portugal, it is excellent that this initiative is happening in Lisbon. It allows us to more easily tell other investors and startups what we've been doing in Portugal for the world.
I hope Web Summit stays in our country for a few more years.”
Miguel Bagulho, Investment Team @ Sonae IM
"This has been my third Web Summit, after an experience in Dublin and the first edition in Portugal, which happened last year. Besides the main event, Web Summit organises a day for investors only, called Venture Summit, which constitutes a great starter for the mad days that follow.
I consider Web Summit an excellent moment for networking with other investors, namely international investors, who probably wouldn't come to our country otherwise. The startups' part can be a bit confusing, but if you prepare contacts in advance, you can manage the contact with companies that are more in line with our investment criteria.
In the 2017 edition we've already identified several investment leads, some of which we were already in touch with, namely in retail and telecom technological areas, as well as cybersecurity.”
Tânia Calçada, Future Tech Area manager @ Innovation and Future Tech, Sonae
"I've been at Web Summit for three consecutive years and I'm waiting for the next one. In 2015, I went to Dublin to attend the conferences and talk to companies that choose this fair to promote their products or find investors. Despite the poor organisation of the summit in Dublin, I managed to get the insight on new information technologies and social challenges associated with them. In 2016, with the arrival in Lisbon, convenience and quality of the organisation improved, while content quality and quantity remained. In 2017, there were no surprises, the format was kept.
The catalogue of themes discussed and implemented by startups has evolved in a subtle way. There are themes which seem to be here to stay, like artificial intelligence or robotics; in spite of being more and more dealt with in a practical way, they are still far from the application in final products with real utility. Themes like virtual reality, drones and even autonomous vehicles are beginning to be understood as consumer technology, therefore they come up in conversations and the exhibition applied to real cases. In the new entries, we saw the blockchain, which hit the headlines over the past few months. I really liked it!”