Web Summit for startups: ‘amazing’ contacts, ‘pivotal’ media exposure, ‘accelerated’ funding rounds

Maeve Harris's avatar
Maeve Harris

What are three of the biggest benefits of attending our events? According to these founders: market expansion, media exposure and networking.

We’ve spoken with dozens of our startups in recent months, finding out what they achieved from participating in our events. With everything from making the right contacts, to raising the right money, the entire gambit of the startup journey was covered.

Market expansion

Some people attend our events with an open schedule, but for others it is all about planning before they get to Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto or Doha. For Qufooit founder and CEO Kazuo Ikeda, the pre-event plan was clear: to go global.

While attending Web Summit in Lisbon, the founder targeted both new investors and new customers.

The most important connection, though, was made with the UK government. After a discussion at the UK’s pavilion, Kazuo was encouraged to apply for their Global Entrepreneur Programme and move the business to the UK. Kazuo received an ‘Innovator Founder visa’ and, although Qufooit maintains a base in Japan, Kazuo now lives in Maidenhead, UK.

A selfie photograph of three people at Web Summit 2023. The person taking the selfie has their mouth open, and the other two people are smiling. In the background is a large, lit-up Web Summit logo.Kazuo Ikeda, on the right, with the Qufooit team at Web Summit 2023: Qufooit.com

Since the Web Summit-inspired move to the UK, Kazuo has grown Qufooit from revenue of UK£1 million to UK£4 million.

“If I did not exhibit at Web Summit 2019, I would still be in Japan as the CEO of a domestic company. However, now I am living in the UK, expanding my business around the world. This is the evidence of the power of Web Summit,” Kazuo added.

Cognivix founder and CEO Daniele Bernardini similarly noted the value of Web Summit events in relation to building a network of enduring relationships. Daniele, a five-time veteran of Web Summit and Collision, also found national trade associations were a good place to start.

“One of the main connections that was really helpful was JETRO, the Japanese External Trade Organisation. That was at one of my first Web Summits, when I was still new to the event. I went to them and said, ‘I like Japan, I want to collaborate with you guys – let’s do something’. And they actually followed up!”

“They invited me to talk to them in Germany, where I was based at the time. Then in 2019, they invited me to go to Japan with four other startups from around the world to give a talk on AI.”

Cognivix also had the opportunity to meet with the Toyota Group, Denso and other top companies in and around the Nagoya area, Japan’s manufacturing hub.”

“Two weeks after Web Summit 2023 we’re attendees at iREX – the robotics trade fair in Tokyo – and then after that, we’re invited to this matchmaking trade fair, which is a big thing they do in Japan to connect startups with major companies.”

“And so all of this connection with Japan, which for us is the most strategic market, came from that connection made at Web Summit. It’s one of our most important contacts overall.”

Media exposure

Journalists from the world’s leading media outlets gather at our events. 

For Flamaid founder Julieta Rueff, attending Web Summit 2023 allowed her to secure a crucial media opportunity that led to a substantial influx of business opportunities.

“Since our participation in Web Summit and being featured in Forbes [FlamAid appeared in Forbes after meeting journalist John Koetsier while exhibiting at the event], we’ve experienced a significant surge in beneficial contacts and opportunities. This exposure has been instrumental in propelling our journey, especially concerning our funding efforts,” Julieta claimed.

These events have been catalysts that have enabled us to close our funding round successfully.

Julieta Rueff, FlamAid founder

“When we attended Web Summit, our funding round was already open and halfway through. The platform and visibility provided by these prestigious avenues greatly accelerated our progress.”

“The Forbes feature, in particular, played a pivotal role in enhancing our credibility and attracting attention from potential investors and partners. These events have been catalysts that have enabled us to close our funding round successfully.”

Julieta Rueff, founder of FlamAid: FlamAid

Elsewhere Jade Autism CEO Ronaldo Cohin found that, by competing in PITCH, the media exposure was extensive. 

“I had won previous startup competitions, and I thought PITCH was going to be like that, but it wasn’t. PITCH was absolutely huge. 30 minutes after I won, my face was on TV Globo – the biggest TV network in Latin America – and Globo’s website,” said Ronaldo.

Founder of Brazilian startup Luckie Tech, Joel Oliveira, similarly garnered exposure as a result of attending Web Summit. For him, it was the combination of his company’s heartwarming mission and his status as a Brazilian entrepreneur that helped him stand out at the event.

“It was great because we had the opportunity to speak to several TV broadcasters about what we do. It was great to get our story across to people,” Joel said.

“We spoke to some broadcasters in Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil and it was so great to have this exposure. The biggest TV broadcaster in Brazil actually spoke to us twice. And then we went live directly from Lisbon to Brazil. That was really amazing.”


According to Craver co-founder and CEO Amin Yazdani, who attended Collision 2023, our events provide attendees the ideal meeting place to foster new relationships.

“There are a lot of people who attended the event that I probably could have connected with over Zoom over the course of six months or so, but, because they are all in town and concentrated in one place, I had the opportunity to meet all of these people over half-hour meetings – and these sit-downs are what really helped kickstart these relationships,” said Amin.

“I think now, after [the event], we are in a much better position. We have a big chunk of investors we are in direct contact with. So the biggest difference is definitely that we have a much bigger network of supporters.”

Co-founder and CEO of Unified.to Roy Pereria agrees, stating that our events provided the perfect environment for him to connect with investors and fellow founders, as well as prospective clients.

The programming, the floor and the exhibit are amazing, but what’s really amazing is meeting people.

Roy Pereria, Unified co-founder and CEO 

“You talk about what you need; you talk about what you’re doing, and ideas start to flow and networking happens. This is how you get ahead – through those connections. And that is lubricated massively at Collision because of the amount of people, and the fact that everyone is here.”

“The programming, the floor and the exhibit are amazing, but what’s really amazing is meeting people – not just from Toronto, but all over.”

“After [the event], you’re giving these people calls or emails, and you’re doing stuff with them; you’re hiring them, working with them; maybe they become customers or partners, and that’s the real value.”

But networking comes in all shapes and sizes, as evidenced by a serendipitous meeting of minds that took place between Verble co-founders Victor Straatman and Devin van der Berg in Lisbon. 

Four men are pictured wearing casual shirts and trousers stand around a sign that reads 'Verble'. In the background is a river with a suspended bridge and four skyscrapers towering above the city. It is a cloudy day.

Their business love story is a Web Summit one. “We were on our way back from the event, and we happened to sit next to each other on the plane. We had never met before, but we were both wearing the Web Summit accreditation bracelets,” Devin admitted. 

Victor and Devin started chatting about their experiences at the event and the quality of pitches and speeches.

“And then, because Web Summit had so much content about AI, I thought: ‘How cool would it be if you could just chat with an AI and then get support that helps you structure your thinking and prepare you for a presentation or pitch?’

“You make so many serendipitous connections. I think that’s the value for me. Although it’s a very big conference, right? It’s massive, in terms of attendees. But still, you sit somewhere, you speak to somebody who’s very interesting and doing something that makes you think: ‘Oh, wow!’, Victor added.

“There are so many connections that you make outside – sitting at the tables as well as in the conference itself – which basically feeds into this whole idea of people inspiring each other, and then the things that can happen out of that.”

Whether you’re looking to raise funding or network with your fellow attendees, Web Summit is the perfect place for tech experts and industry leaders alike to gather, make connections, and generate valuable and enduring leads.

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