I have just spent a great few days in Dublin at the third Web summit. Dublin, a great city in its own right, that happens to hold one of the better European technology events of the year.
While searching for a pen to borrow (yes I do old school as well - the wireless was not working) from the great staff that supported the event, I somehow managed to get dragged into speed mentoring companies that are seeking investment. Obviously, I offered to help and even brought along my colleagues Kevin Doyle and Oliver Chapple.
After two hours of two-minute speed meetings, I managed to meet at least 100 companies. Quality varied from people with no plans of any substance in place to some that I wondered why they were even speaking to me as they seemed to have everything covered and didn’t actually need any help at all.
One of my concerns is that some of these events are actually becoming a little bit like The X Factor. I almost felt, during the two days of spending time meeting companies and people, that some people were only in it for their fifteen minutes of fame or just expected to turn up and everything to just happen at the switch of a button.
It’s a bit like me turning up to an X Factor audition and trying to sing a number one hit. No matter how much I wish it would and surrounding myself with the cream of management, it’s just not going to happen. The fact is, I have no ambition or talent in this area and a ‘recording’ voice no one wants to hear. So I am unclear as to why people who have no real desire to be part of it, or any background in business, think the tech world is going to be an easy one to break into. Having heard their pitches, I found myself telling people, with brutal honesty, not to waste any more money and think about getting a job.
There is no doubt that the tech world feels very exciting at the moment. It all feels very 1998 and I can see why people want a slice of the action. The energy and positivity at events held at Techcity in London, or the Web Summit in Dublin, comes as no surprise. It’s great and I don’t blame them, but please don’t expect it all just to happen. Not wanting to dampen the positive energy these conferences give to people, not surprisingly when successful founders are giving speeches that would make anyone want to go and drive their idea forward.
On a positive note, I did meet some great businesses that deserve a mention. Unable to mention them all, but I was pretty fired up by Kenneth Shaw and Shi Han Huang at Tawkify who just amazed me with what they have accomplished since April of this year and had energy in bucket loads.
I had a brief conversation with Ethan Austin from Give Forward. I would suggest you take a look at what these guys do. Yes, it’s more focused on the US but it’s great to see things like this exist for the good.
Then we have the guys from Beezway. If it weren’t for a very rude blonde lady jumping the cue at the bar and another chap with the coolest name, Kobra, I would not have met these guys. They are Slovakian technology guys, who are doing some great stuff, but more importantly, nice guys along with everything.
One very close to my heart was a Doctor and Technologist from Turkey, that have built a Medical Research collaboration and Statistical Data Analysis tool, which could empower so many in the NHS and a solution that could be cost neutral.
Maybe a good way forward for some of these events is to make them have more of a competitive side, which is not just pitching. Hackathons are great as they solve problems or challenges and pull away from conventional thinking.