Web Summit Survival Guide

Web Summit Survival Guide

Sarah Zou Business Operations

November 2022

The Web Summit conference is grand! and exciting!, but can also be confusing and overwhelming. The annual conference in Lisbon brings together 70,000+ people from across the tech industry for 3 packed days and nights of talks, workshops, and events. This year marks my 3rd time attending the conference, and it will be a very special one: not only will Ourspace have a booth to showcase what we’ve built, but our CEO, Megan, will be speaking on Opening Night 🤩

In preparation for the conference, I wrote this guide for my Spacemates in hopes that they can avoid some rookie mistakes that I’ve made in the past (re: not getting there early enough).

In the spirit of Building in Public, I hope this checklist of what to do before, during, and after the conference can help you and your team avoid Web Summit burnout and get the most out of the event ☄️

Your Web Summit Checklist

Before the event

Download the Web Summit app — it will be your best friend throughout the week. Spend time going through the app to decide which talks you want to attend, and which companies you want to network with. At the conference, everyone’s badge will have a QR code that links to their profile when scanned, so make sure yours has a photo, LinkedIn, and other important information that people you meet can use to connect with you.

Web Summit will have a badge pickup area at the airport — use it! These pickup sites are easy to find and can cut your wait time by half compared to collecting your badge at the venue

  • Fill in your Web Summit app profile so that others can easily find you
  • Add the sessions that interest you to 'Your Schedule' so it’s easy to manage the sessions you want to attend
  • Send requests for meetings with investors and other people that you want to network with through the app
  • Pick up your Web Summit badge at the Lisbon airport to save yourself time on the first day of the conference
  • Create a plan for you and each of your team members at the event

At Ourspace, we've divided up roles to create clear accountability, and assigned content tracks to navigate the speaking topics and collect insights to bring back for the team👇

At the event

Web Summit has a centralised security area at the conference, which means everyone funnels through one single check-in area (at Pavilion 5). This creates long queues to get into the conference, particularly on Opening Night when everyone arrives at the same time. Depending on the type of pass you have (speaker, beta, investor), there may be expedited queues. Either way, set your expectations accordingly (typical wait time is 30 minutes) and use the time in line to start networking with those around you.

Remember… patience is a virtue 🧘‍♂️

There’s a lunch break on almost all tracks from 1–2pm, during which the pavilions empty out a bit and everyone finds their favourite food truck to get lunch. You can pay by card at almost all the trucks, and some of them even offer a pre-order option via QR code. Finding a place to eat as a group is tricky, because most people break for lunch at the same time. Take it as another networking opportunity to get lunch alone and share a table with someone you don’t know. I’ve met some great people as we chow down on our Pad Thai’s before heading back inside to our respective talks 🥡

  • Spend the first 30–45 minutes at the conference walking around to get a lay of the land
  • Give yourself at least 5–10 minutes of travel time between talks that are happening at different stages
  • Arrive 10–15 minutes early to “Masterclass” sessions, as seating is very limited and are filled on a first-come-first serve basis
  • Give yourself additional time if taking public transportation to the venue. You may not be able to get on the first train or bus that comes because it will already be packed
  • Schedule group lunches with teammates during off-peak hours
  • Look for the food trucks that offer a pre-order service and schedule your lunch ahead of time

At your booth

Unless you’re Google, Siemens, or a similar brand-named company, your booth at Web Summit will be humble ⬇️

Each booth will have access to 2 European outlets, and will have a board that states your company name, logo, location and a short description of what you do. Anything beyond that will require a bit of creativity in order to stand out. Any conference attendee knows that conferences are all about free swag, and Web Summit is no exception. If you’re a startup that has cool swag to give, word will get around quickly and draw people to your stand. Your booth will have a location number (ex: BETA427), but it’s easier to also give people a general directional reference if you want them to find you at your booth (ex: “Beta booth next to the Future Societies Stage in Pavilion 2, 3rd row from the stage entrance”)

  • Identify landmarks around your booth to help people locate you
  • Bring a second monitor, a tablecloth for your section of the booth, or other decorative accessories to stand out
  • Create a quick contact form that prospects can fill out directly at the booth
  • Ask people to confirm your Web Summit app connection request directly after scanning their badge (because you will only be able to export confirmed connections)

After the event

Every evening after the conference, there’s Night Summit: an unstructured, open gathering at various areas of Lisbon. Web Summit partners with specific bars to have the spaces reserved solely for attendees, so you can rest assured that the people out at the bars are also with the conference. These are great networking opportunities, but keep in mind that they’re more unstructured and casual. Think less about finding your ICP here, but rather a chance to meet fellow tech industry professionals from all over the world to share experiences

  • Bring your luggage with you and leave it at the bag drop area (if flying out directly from the conference)
  • Export the contacts you connected with via the Web Summit app to your CRM system
  • Follow up with connections within the week after the conference
  • Conduct a team retrospective of the conference and record learnings for the following year while memory is still fresh

Bonus tips

  • Take advantage of the various lounges if you have access(Investor, Growth, Women in Tech, Collision… just to name a few). They are great areas to have meetings, do work, or just to relax
  • Bring a portable charger for your phone, and make sure to bring your laptop fully charged if you plan to use it throughout the day. It can surprisingly difficult to find a power outlet that’s conveniently placed
  • Bring a water bottle. There are water refill stations at the conference — use them to stay hydrated throughout the day and reduce plastic ♻️
  • Redeem the Web Summit discounts that are available to you (AWS credits, access to Pitchbook…etc). They’re all accessible via the Web Summit app, in the “Perks” section
  • Take breaks throughout the day in the outside areas to take in some fresh air, and bring some snacks with you to keep you fueled all the way to Night Summit 🌃

And finally…remember: you’re in Lisbon, one of the best cities in Europe! Allow yourself and your team some time outside the conference to enjoy all the city has to offer. Visit LX Factory to browse art, get some Pasteis de natas from Manteigaria, and enjoy a team dinner at one of the many delicious restaurants in town. Getting out of the normal routine is an incredible opportunity for quality team interactions, so don’t forget to treat yourselves throughout the week. The Ourspace team already has a dinner planned on Wednesday night at a secret location — photos to come! 🍽️

I hope that you found this guide helpful, and that you feel more prepared going into the exciting week that lies ahead. If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments section… one can never be too prepared for Web Summit 🙌

Four of our Spacemates (Meg, Steph, Mark, and myself, Sarah) will be in attendance next week. Feel free to look us up on the Web Summit app to connect while in Lisbon. See you there!