A Letter from an Irish Startup to the Web Summit

Note: This is inspired by Paddy Cosgraves post yesterday entitled ‘A Letter to Irish Startups‘. I think Paddy and his team will never fully understand the hugely positive impact the Web Summit has had on the Irish Start-up ecosystem. I therefore wanted to share some real world examples of how the Web Summit has helped Datahug secure investment, customers, recruits and media coverage. 

On Thursday October 28th 2010 no one knew about Datahug. 

On Friday Oct 29th 2010 Datahug won the Web Summit Spark of Genius start-up competition. This included a €30K prize in services, but more importantly, it allowed us to build a great working relationship with the Web Summit team. Since winning the competition we have attended several Web Summit events in San Fran, Berlin, Cork, New York, London and Dublin. At each event we have made new relationships with potential partners, hires, customers and investors. The Web Summit has been integral to our success, and using Datahug, we have tracked over 50 introductions that have been made for us by members of the Web Summit team.

Investor Relationships via the Web Summit

We met our lawyer Colm Rafferty at the Web Summit where he was judging the startup competition. Colm then introduced us to our first VC investors ($1.5M round). Brian Caulfield at DFJ Esprit was another judge we met at the Web Summit. In late 2012, Brian led our $4M series A. Breon Corcoran who we met as a speaker at the Web Summit in 2011 also joined our Series A investment.

PR/Media Relationships via the Web Summit

On the morning after winning the Web Summit Spark of Genius competition (Saturday Oct 30th 2010), the Web Summit organised an interview with Robin Wauters of TechCrunch where he described Datahug as ‘LinkedIn on Steroids’. The resulting coverage was our first international press and resulted in several inbound VC enquiries and 500 Beta user signups.

Over the years the Web Summit team have introduced us to journalists at TechCrunch, Forbes, Inc, Venture Beat, Irish Times, BBC and several others. They also gave us the opportunity to have our company logo on the Nasdaq big screen on Time Square NY during F.ounders NY, along with having renowned photographer Kevin Abosch take our portraits during F.ounders Dublin.

The Web Summit team understand the value of relationships better than most organisations and are heavy Datahug users. This has resulted in their team being fantastic evangelists for our product. There is no doubt that several Datahug customers were first introduced to us via demos from the Web Summit team 
The Web Summit team put us in contact with one of our first business development hires along with our first PR consultant. 
  • Free Dublin Office space. While at a pre Web Summit dinner we met the founders of Ammado who very kindly offered us free office space in their uber-plush offices in the heart of Dublin for 8 months while we were fund raising.
  • First Angel Investment. While at the London Web Summit, I discovered an early stage startup with an innovative new marketing solution. We stayed in touch and I’m about to make my first angel investment into this company.
  • EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Daire Hickey first introduced us to the EoY team in 2010 and we are now finalists in this years 2013 competition.
  • Friends / Mentors. The various Web Summit events we’ve attended have given us access to a vast network of founders, journalists and investors who we are proud to now call our friends and mentors. This alone is why we love what the Web Summit has created. It has created a community and an ecosystem that is driving startup growth across Ireland, Europe and around the world. 

These examples were not handed to us on a plate either. We had a genuinely great product, team and worked extremely hard over the last 4 years to make the most of every relationship we made. Equally, as the Web Summit has grown in scale, it will be much harder to stand out from the crowd as the quality and sheer volume of great start-ups attending will be 100X larger than when we first attended in 2010.

The key point to this article is that the power of the Web Summit is no longer just the event in the RDS this October. It is the experience, sense of community and confidence that it has brought into the European / Irish / Dublin Start-up ecosystem. The Web Summit is now an annual celebration of the progress Ireland has made and if I was a first time founder I would be there, working my socks off networking, hustling, sneaking into events and selling my vision where ever I could. The competition amongst startups will be bigger, but equally the audience of investors, advisors, media and overall ‘good people’ will be 100X too. 

Finally, thank you to Paddy, Daire, Dave, Jack, Bobby, Bronagh, Joe, Anna, Niamh, Paddy B, Alex, Faye, Mark, Alice, Paul, Peter, Rebecca, Jack, Aoife, Declan, Katie, Orna, Tracey, Declan, Cathal, John, Robert, Selina, Emily, Nicola, Allan, Niall, Tony, Mary and all 63 people at the Web Summit that have helped us over the last four years! 

See you in October

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