5 valuable insights for startups from the international event Web Summit
Dec 01

The Web Summit, one of the largest and most important international technology conferences, recently held in Lisbon, has brought together more than 70 000 participants from all over the world. This year, a record number of representatives of the Lithuanian startup ecosystem – close to half a thousand – attended the event. They came back not only with useful contacts, but also with valuable insights that can help to make even better use of such events in the future.

Neringa Morozaitė-Rasmussen, Vice-Minister of the Economy and Innovation, who attended the conference, said that the Web Summit is an extraordinary opportunity for Lithuanian startups to pitch themselves, establish useful business partnerships, raise investment and represent the growing Lithuanian startup ecosystem on an international scale.

“Our country’s company founders and employees are raising the Lithuanian bar of quality by presenting themselves at this major technology event. More than 400 representatives of Lithuanian startups participating in the event will give rise to new promising projects and initiatives and help to attract foreign partners, customers and investment,” says Ms Morozaitė-Rasmussen.

Martynas Survilas, Head of ICT Lab at the Innovation Agency Lithuania, which organised the national stand of Lithuania at the event, says that this year our participation in the Web Summit conference was exceptional. According to him, this example is very important for future attendance at international events, and therefore he shares 5 useful tips.

1. Prepare properly

Mr Survilas notes that more than 800 speakers gave their presentations at the four-day conference this year. It is simply impossible to hear all of them, so it is important for participants to arrange their programme in advance and prioritise presentations according to the topics they are most interested in.

“When planning, you should take into account that the distances between different pavilions are considerable and it can take up to 20 minutes to walk from one to the other. It is also worth filling in your personal information carefully on the dedicated conference app. This helps you to get invitations to meetings that are useful for the business you represent. The most important thing is to do your homework before going to such a big event. Only if you are prepared and initiate meetings in advance can you expect a good result, because everyone is competing for investors’ attention,” comments Mr Survilas.

2. Make the most of networking opportunities

According to the Head of ICT Lab at the Innovation Agency Lithuania, it is the wide range of networking events that makes the Web Summit such an attractive event for startups. Do not miss these opportunities!

“The main conference is accompanied by many side events. Some of them are organised by different countries on their own initiative. These events are mostly focused on networking and finding business contacts. It is definitely worth looking into and attending these events. You can often find out about them by visiting the stands of those countries, various startup groups, or simply by asking other participants from Lithuania – they are often willing to help each other. This year, the Startup Lithuania team from the Innovation Agency Lithuania also organised a networking evening at the conference, bringing together around 170 participants. They also included around 20 foreign investors,” says Mr Survilas.

3. Get on stage

According to Mr Survilas, the speakers and the startups that pitch themselves on the stage get most of the attention at the conference. This year, there were a number of Lithuanian speakers such as Rokas Pečiulaitis, co-founder and CEO of Contrarian Ventures, Liudas Kanapienis, founder and CEO of Ondato, and Emilė Radytė, CEO of Samphire Neuroscience, who even gave a presentation on the main stage.

“When participating in events of this scale, it is definitely worth looking for opportunities to get involved in on-stage discussions, give presentations and pitch yourself. Investors attending the conference are always on the lookout for promising startups, and the easiest place to spot them is where everyone’s attention is focused, i.e. on stage. I hope that next year we will see a Lithuanian startup in the Pitch Finals as well,” adds Mr Survilas.

4. Cooperate with each other

According to Mr Survilas, this year the Web Summit was a perfect example of Lithuanian cooperation. It started with the flight, since Hoperfy, a Lithuanian corporate travel management startup, organised a comfortable direct round trip Vilnius–Lisbon, and 180 seats on the plane were filled quickly.

“Another example of effective cooperation is the national stand organised by the Startup Lithuania team of the Innovation Agency Lithuania, where we presented the growing Lithuanian startup ecosystem together with the teams from Invest Lithuania, Work in Lithuania and the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation. Our country’s business representatives were also able to hold meetings there. They actively cooperated with each other, establishing contacts, sharing useful information and helping to meet foreign investors or foreign business representatives. A strong community can really achieve a lot,” notes Mr Survilas.

5. Take advantage of funding opportunities

According to the representative from the Innovation Agency Lithuania, international events such as the Web Summit conference are undoubtedly an excellent environment for businesses to grow, find useful partnerships and expand into international markets. The state therefore encourages participation and invites businesses to take advantage of the funding available.

“For the second year running, the Innovation Agency Lithuania is offering startups operating for up to 5 years the opportunity to receive up to EUR 3 000 in reimbursement for expenses related to participation in foreign events. This has encouraged many startups to go to the Web Summit and other international events that benefit them. Other companies that participated in innovation promoting events abroad in 2023 were also able to receive up to EUR 2 325 in reimbursement of expenses and up to EUR 500 to cover participant fees,” adds Mr Survilas.

He believes that this year’s Web Summit experience will benefit and contribute to the growth of our startup ecosystem as a whole, and that the strong collaborative practice established here will be continued at other international events.