Web Summit 2023: sleepless nights, lost voice, and wild networking


After I had a rest and cleared up a pile of tasks accumulated due to long business trips, it was my turn to write about Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon.


It was my 5th Web Summit, an anniversary one, and it was very successful for our team. We decided to participate in the maximum number of events to make the most of the Web Summit, which was the right decision.


As a result, we had a tightly packed schedule from Monday morning (even before the Opening Ceremony) until Thursday (the last day of the Summit). We met so many wonderful people, and in the end, I lost my voice but came back home satisfied with the result.


I have prepared some valuable insights and tips for preparing for the next Summit or other major conferences.

1. Pre-parties. Before planning your trip, look for events that will take place on the eve of the Summit.

This year, Pitch Avatar was nominated for The Europas (one of the most prestigious startup awards in Europe), and so my Monday started with this event. There were many great startups, founders, investors, and a unique atmosphere because the entire event took place in a botanical garden. It was a very interesting networking event, an incredible atmosphere, and a photo with Mike Butcher – done.

In the evening, I spoke at a Ukrainian pre-party for Web Summit attendees who came to the event for the first time. I shared tips on how to make the most of Web Summit. We hugged and talked to old friends and new fellows at this pre-party until we were kicked out of the coworking space because it was time for closing. Such pre-parties are incredibly useful if you would like to talk to someone for a long time because at the Web Summit venue, you will get a maximum 15 minutes for each meeting.

2. Meetings that take place. Send reminders about the meeting and immediately send a creative follow-up.

In the previous 4 times at Web Summit, my highest conversion rate to meetings from planned to happen was 50%. This time, ALL of them happened – even those I didn’t plan in advance but agreed to meet on the go.


There were several secrets to this, and I’ll be happy to share.


Firstly, I prepared my presentation business card in Pitch Avatar and created my avatar, which presented who I am, a few words about my experience, and what we are looking at in the Web Summit. I placed a link to it in the Web Summit app, and as a result, more than 100 people watched my mini-pitch (you can imagine how much time my avatar saved me on messaging!). As a result, we received more quality meeting requests. Here’s what my business card looked like: 



Secondly, every morning, I wrote reminders to everyone that we had a meeting scheduled. This was not superfluous because people’s plans and schedules changed, and we agreed to a new meeting appointment in a new place.


Thirdly, for those whom I could not meet 1-to-1, we invited them to our stand, where we worked on the last day of the Summit. So I saw everyone I wanted to see.


And finally, a creative follow-up that I borrowed from others: to not forget what the meeting was about, immediately after the conversation, send a request for a connection on LinkedIn and your photo along with a short note about what was discussed. This will work perfectly for refreshing memory after returning home.

3. Ukrainian stand

Without exaggeration, the Ukrainian stand at Web Summit is the heart of the Ukrainian Tech community. Despite almost 2 years of the war in Ukraine, our Tech community is developing and creating cool projects. According to statistics, this year, Ukraine, together with the United States, shared 7th place in terms of the number of participants at Web Summit after Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Spain, and Poland, but in fact, I think there were even more Ukrainians.

You could meet famous people at the Ukrainian stand, world-famous Ukrainian projects, and raising startups.

This year, ROI4Presenter had the opportunity to pitch among the best Ukrainian startups there, and it was an incredible experience.

4. Working at the BETA stand. Or how to lose your voice in 5 hours.

We got a BETA package for startups to participate in the Web Summit. It included a stand in BETA for 1 day, 1 hour of mentor session, 4 tickets, and access to Happy Hour – a mini-party for beta startups where we could meet, chat, and exchange experiences.

This year, our founder and director actively used the Web Summit application and invited about 600 participants to our stand. In addition, I also invited my contacts, so from 10 am, my fear that no one would come to us changed to: “OMG, how can I pitch everyone interested in our product?” There was literally a queue to our stand, and we just didn’t stop presenting to attendees from all over the world about our product. Usually, on the last day of the Summit, at 3 pm, people dispersed to parties or went to the airport – but at our stand, people kept coming until 5 pm till security started looking at us in a strange way.

As a result, at the end of the day, I lost my voice, but it was worth it. The main thing is to follow up with everyone correctly.

5. Pitch Showcase performance - 2 minutes and not a word more.

As I already mentioned, we applied for all the speeches this year and were selected to speak at the Startup Showcase stage. This is a short 2-minute speech where you can talk about your project – what it is about and what problem it solves.


The tricky thing about pitches is that no matter how much experience you have in public speaking, it’s almost impossible to fit your pitch into the allowed time limit without learning it by heart. Therefore, there is no time for lyrics – everything must be honed in advance.


Here, I’d like to mark the highest level of organization. There were several Pitch/Showcase stages at Web Summit, but on each stage, everything was perfectly organized; the moderators were very clear about the requirements but very friendly, they encouraged participants but tracked the time limit. My top of organization was a timer in front of me that showed me how much time I had till the end. This simple trick that most conferences and pitch competitions ignore help significantly to finish the pitch in time and release from worrying about time limits during presentation.

As a result, I relaxed and enjoyed this experience so much.

6. After parties and Papoila Bar.

If you feel that the activities and meetings during the day were not enough for you or you had an hour to sleep and are ready to dive back into the action, I highly recommend not ignoring the Web Summit night activities. They occur everywhere – official (Night Summit), spontaneous or planned, international or national. I advise you to choose a couple of options per night because networking goes on in a more relaxed atmosphere. You will be able to exchange experiences, thoughts and chat with interesting people. And if you get bored at one party, you can always take a taxi (which is very cheap in Portugal) and move to another party.


This year, the informal centre of the Ukrainian community was Bar Papoila. Cocktails and plenty of space on the street to accommodate everyone. Perfect for informal communication.

P.S. Regional cloning of Web Summit.

For several years, Web Summit was associated only with a huge event in Lisbon. But from this year, it has gone beyond European presence, and in May, the first Web Summit was held in Brazil, and in February next year, it will also be held in Qatar.


So if you are thinking about expanding your business to the Middle East or Latin American countries, your celebration will not end with a single trip to Lisbon.


In general, I believe that every IT specialist who works in international markets or is considering expanding their business to other countries should visit this event at least once, because the unique vibe and variety of opportunities, new acquaintances, always inspire new ideas, steps, and projects.

See you at the next Web Summit 2024!


Author: Victoria Abed – Chief Revenue Officer at ROI4Presenter

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