The Web Summit Experience as an Alpha Startup

The week before last, more than 2,100 startups from across the globe gathered at Web Summit. 150 of those were Portuguese startups selected for the Alpha startup programme. To best prepare them Startup Portugal and Web Summit, with the support of Beta-i, organized the Road2WebSummit, covering topics such as networking, building relationships with corporates/investors, and how to pitch your startup to a variety of people.

We checked in with the Alpha startups to hear about their experience at the Web Summit. Whether they achieved what they wanted to achieve, key moments and highlights from the week.

The founders of the alpha startups had similar experiences. The exposure created great opportunities for new customers, clients, investors and potential collaborations, with several of the startups having ongoing conversations to further explore these opportunities. The entrepreneurs recognized the importance of thorough preparation, specifically defining where to focus their efforts and the importance of nailing their pitch.

Aquaponics Iberia

Aquaponics technology uses a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics to produce food more sustainably. This creates a unique symbiotic ecosystem producing fish, vegetables, and fruits.

When applying to be an Alpha Startup, Aquaponics did not have high expectations. Their goals were to network and find new investors for their urban aquaponics project. Participating in the Road2WebSummit helped them prepare ‘with much more clarity and focus’, says Joao Cotter from Aquaponics. For them, the key learning from Road2WebSummit was understanding the need to differentiate their presentation. This lead them to build a small demo of the aquaponics system specifically for the Web Summit, which proved a winning strategy. The days of the Web Summit were hectic, navigating their way between media interviews, investor talks, presenting their startup solutions and talking to potential partners amongst other startups. The positive media attention from TV, print, and radio was beyond what they could have hoped for. The results of the Web Summit were new clients, new partnerships and a consolidation of their position as pioneers in the Portuguese market, yet they did not obtain the funding they were looking for. Yet.

Mater Dynamics

Mater Dynamics develops nanosensors to monitor environmental variables that affect products and processes, a smart sensor working without batteries to pass information such as temperature, pressure, and humidity.

Their main motivation for attending the Web Summit was to present a new version of their product, QStamp 2.0. To demonstrate the potential of the solution, prioritizing potential clients in their target group. Taking part in Road2WebSummit prepared them with a better understanding of how to leverage their resources during the intense week. Maybe most importantly, it forced them to practice different pitch versions for different audiences and with different lengths (30 seconds, 1 minute and 3 minutes) to choose the best format depending on their audience. At the summit, they discovered potential R&D collaborators with companies possessing complementary technologies. The Web Summit is still ongoing for them, as they have successfully scheduled meetings with potential clients and investors, and the follow-up work is now taking place. From this, they hope to unlock novel geographies for their product and find new investors, in line with their growth strategy.

NeuroPsyCAD

NeuroPsyCAD is supporting early and accurate neuropsychiatric diagnosis using medical imaging and artificial intelligence.

Their expectation for the summit was to expand their network, specifically gathering contacts in new countries. To meet new companies to partner with and potential investors. During Road2WebSummit they were urged to define certain milestones for what to achieve during the summit. Ricardo, the CTO, summarised their goals as: ‘contacting at least 3-5 investors per day, exchanging at least 10 business cards (with people relevant to their field) per day and inspect 5 pitches per day’. The preparation at Road2WebSummit helped them nail their pitch, which was especially important on the day they had their own booth. This day was their highlight of the Web Summit, as they were being contacted by interested people throughout the entire day. Ricardo says ‘it made us believe even stronger in the project. We had some very interesting exchanges and are in on-going talks about new opportunities and potential collaborations as a result of the summit’.

YouBeep

YouBeep is a mobile shopping and checkout solution, which reduces checkout time while enhancing the overall customer experience.

This year was their second time exhibiting their solution at the Web Summit and second time participating in the Road2WebSummit. This year, their focus was on obtaining exposure and engage with key people. They exceeded the expectations. The second time was a charm, mainly because they had done their homework and was better prepared. According to the CEO, João Rodrigues, ‘the Web Summit is a great initiative. It is providing exposure to the Portuguese startup scene and showcasing what we have to offer’. He believes that a big challenge for Portuguese startups is that the market is too small, forcing startups to go global from the very beginning. The summit provided them with great networking opportunities and they hope that new business will result from some of the conversations they had during last week.

Smartidiom

Smartidiom offers innovative multilingual services, helping global organizations and brands to grow and achieve international success.

Their purpose at Web Summit was to promote their new platform, validate it, form partnerships and establish connections with various enterprises for future collaboration, and reinforce their position in the market. The Road2WebSummit helped them understand the need to focus on specific goals, as it is easy to get distracted in the large and crowded space. Tiago, Director of Operations, asserts ‘we had our contacts, presentations, pitches and overall team organization well prepared, while still leaving some time available for a few decisions “on-the-go”.’ Partaking in the summit provided them with great feedback, new ideas, and access to investors that might help them reach their pending goals. The most significant impact is the number of follow-ups that may convert into future revenue. This year, they were more specific about who, what and when they wanted to target at their stand and during the remaining days, which meant they managed to establish the right contacts.

SmartLunch

SmartLunch creates every product you would need to transport your lunch from home to the office, school or anywhere else, from boxes to bags to bottles.

SmartLunch aimed to broadcast their brand and products to an international audience, to attract interest from potential actors willing to sell them overseas or include them on their e-commerce platform. Moreover, to present their new app and find investors, mentors, and partners interested in joining them on their next steps. Similar to the other startups, they understood that preparation is key. To practice their speech and be able to adapt it to whoever is in front of them, to anticipate their needs, and to network, network, network. They asserted that you don’t know who will be valuable to you in advance, so it’s important to meet a variety of people. The Web Summit lead to ongoing conversations with potential investors and interaction with partners interested in selling their products across five new markets.

 

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