The Web Summit team announced recently that they are moving the Summit to Lisbon. There seems to be a lot of ambivalent comments in the media about this move, so we want to throw our hat in and say that we have only massive respect for the Web Summit team and what they have built. In our opinion, the Web Summit is one of the best things about the startup ecosystem in Dublin.
So, here's our story and how the Web Summit has been instrumental in our growth. In the Summer of 2013, we had just launched our beta platform which enabled people to upload designs (with the inadvisable name, FabAllThings). All we had was a lasercutter, a 3d printer, a lot of energy and a big idea about how we were going to change the way the world designs and makes. We had no mentors, no advisors, no funding and no accelerator. We were receiving a lot of rejected applications and the Enterprise Ireland CSF was a distant dream. We had only just launched when the Web Summit came around in November of that year. We weighed up the cost of the tickets with the potential of meeting someone who would perhaps give us some much-needed feedback and we decided it was worth giving it a shot.
We applied to PITCH - the Web Summit's major startup competition which sees thousands of entries each year with a grand prize of €500k in 2013. We spent hours putting together our pitchdeck and presented on the first day of Web Summit. Over the next three days, we pitched to three separate international juries in three consecutive heats, and in the end, we managed to get through the the finals of PITCH. We presented our idea to over 5000 people on the main stage of the RDS and received questioning and feedback from Robert Scoble, Phil Libin, Aaron Levie and other leaders of hugely successful international companies. We got amazing feedback from Matt Turck in First Mark Capital in NYC who spent a good 15 minutes going through our deck to say which slides worked and which didn't. We were interviewed by Wired magazine and were featured in their subsequent publication. We met with dozens of other startups from around the world. We swapped notes with the guys next to us in Alphaville and are still in touch two years on.
It was an absolutely brilliant, surreal experience and a huge boost to us starting out. Up until that point, we had only received negative feedback so this enthusiasm for our idea and what we were trying to build, from an international panel was a revelation. In the end, we came joint second in the PITCH finals and we met fantastic people who have supported us and who later invested in Love & Robots. Without a doubt, Web Summit was a turning point for us. The valuable feedback we received was instrumental to us getting onto an accelerator, receiving the CSF, and even getting invited on to the Late Late Show.
In 2014, we had just launched our Love & Robots platform when we attended Web Summit for the second time. Aside from meeting further investors and customers, we competed in the ESB Spark of Genius competition which we won along with the €25k prize. We got great feedback from the judging panel and audience, we heard some fantastic speakers, I personally hosted another startup in my home and we hung out until the early morning hours. All in all, it was a pretty fantastic few days. However, the impact of those few days in 2013 and 2014 have been far-reaching for us.
To sum up, what we want to say is that we cannot overstate the importance of Web Summit to our development as a startup and for that we want to say thank you to all of the Web Summit team. What you have built is an incredible achievement and we wish you the best of luck with the next chapter of your story.
Emer and the Love & Robots Team.