Web Summit 2014: Making Connections, From the Booth to the Bar

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Web Summit 2014, Europe’s biggest tech event, has been a memorable experience for the team. With the show having pulled in a 20,000-strong crowd featuring industry giants, high-growth startups, and everything in between, we’ve relished the opportunity to get closer to the tech entrepreneur community. In this last blog post in our Web Summit series, one of our U.K. Startups-In-Residence, David Monks, shares his key learnings and takeaways from the event. Monks’ startup, award-winning iNovar (below), is a business intelligence company enabling executives to securely access all their corporate content and applications on mobile devices.

Web Summit - iNovar

That’s all, folks: another Web Summit done and dusted. For the team at iNovar, this was our first year as an exhibitor so we’ve been taking stock of our experiences and learnings to make next year even bigger.

An event of this scale provides unparalleled opportunities to get in front of a vast, international audience to pitch your technology and expand your network. As a member of the ‘alpha’ stream for the youngest companies exhibiting, we relished the opportunity to network with like-minded businesses, but also had ample opportunity to learn from our larger counterparts — something we’ve enjoyed doing during the past six months through our partnership with Dell.

Having won a competitive pitch to secure technology, mentorship and a year’s tenancy at Dell’s U.K. headquarters, we’ve seen first-hand the value of being able to speak directly to senior management at a large corporation. Dell has enabled us to refine our offering and raise our profile with investors and the start-up tech community.

A large part of this success has hinged on our ability to work alongside Dell at major industry events such as Web Summit. Dell had a major presence at the show this year and their stand was extremely popular — not least because of the comfy seating and coffee! As always, it was useful to meet up with internal Dell staff and Dell customers — but that’s not all we got up to together.

I jumped at the opportunity to join Dell staff in helping those startups shortlisted for Web Summit’s “PITCH” competition to hone their skills via Dell’s “Pitch Perfect” sessions. No entrepreneur can get their business off the ground without the ability to pitch. After all, if you can’t get an investor, prospect customer or potential partner interested in your business idea, success is going to be hard to come by. As a seasoned pitcher and former trainer, I couldn’t resist this opportunity to help out!

Our first two days of the show were spent trawling the floors of this impressive, well-attended event. It was a hive of activity and we had useful conversations with prospective investors and potential partners from the get-go.

One of our key takeaways from Web Summit was its value for making connections through its unique blend of social and business environments. The many after-hours parties and pub crawls provided networking opportunities just as important as those at the exhibition itself, with the same sorts of conversations happening at the booth and the bar alike.

But our main learning was that you should never, never, never give up. On the final day, many companies were already starting to pack-up and we were tempted to do the same. We were so glad we didn’t give into that temptation as we secured six major leads within the last 30 minutes of the show!

Web Summit has been a great experience, offering broad international exposure in both a professional and informal environment. Here’s to next year’s event!

To find out more about Dell’s entrepreneurial focus, follow @DellCFEUK on Twitter or take a look at the Dell for Entrepreneurs programme here, and if you are an entrepreneur then we’d love to hear your story.

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