First of all, I must commend the organizers. Tiago Vidal, Filipe Castro Matos, and a great team put together what is already a world-level conference. I’ve been to the WebSummit and WorldCamp Europe, so I know what I’m talking about.They had a vision, went for it, didn’t quit, and pulled it together. They have my respect and admiration.
And there is still a whole day to go. The venue is great, the speakers are amazing, and the overall atmosphere very relaxed.
The conference started with a talk by Josh Miller, from Branch. Here are the main points of his talk:
- You need a mentor.
- Connect, it won’t happen overnight.
- Work hard and eventually something good will happen.
- Be excited.
- Advice from Ev Williams: Beware of anyone who gives you definitive advice. We are all making it up as we go along.
- Be married to the problem you want to solve, not the product itself.
The next speaker to hit the stage was Hussein Kanji of Hoxton Ventures. One of his advices was to take a long view. He also highlighted the 3 important things to look for in a venture:
- What is the problem that you’re solving?
- Look for teams
- What is the microeconomic model?
After a really loud cheer, Garrett Gee of Scan took the stage. His motto is to keep it simple. He started as a web designer, then started his own project. Scan started getting attention and, at a point, he found himself at a party with Lady Gaga (you had to be there). Scan then gets several investments totaling 9 million dollars, and that attention led to a participation on the TV show Shark Tank.
Cyrielle Callot and André Rodrigues
Cyrielle Callot and André Rodrigues from the car ride sharing platform Bla Bla Car were next.
The main takeaway points were:
- Establish a geographical footprint
- invest in having local teams
- create a unified brand culture
It has gown to 6 million members, so things are looking good.
Up next was Stan Schroeder, the European editor for Mashable. He started by telling about his personal journey. He started a blog on his spare time. In time, he started getting quoted by big sites like the New York Times. That caught the attention of Pete Cashmore, who invited him to join forces with Mashable.
Stan than quoted Mate Rimac, saying it takes guts and persistence to succeed.Wise words.
Mashable itself started out as a one-man blog, in Europe, far from Silicon Valley. It took a lot of work to turn it into what it is today. Mashable now has offices in New York and San Francisco, employs nearly 100 people, took VC investments, and is soon opening offices in London and Los Angeles and hiring an additional 50 people.
Michelle Zatlyn and António Ferreira
Michelle Zatlyn from Cloudflare and António Ferreira from Lunacloud sat down for a chat. They started by talking about the differences between starting a company with venture funding and starting on your own.
Michelle highlighted the three tiers of cloud: Storage, application, and edge. She also considers you should think big.
As for António, he believes thinking outside the local market is key, that not having to buy hardware is one of the big advantages of going with cloud, and also that Lisbon is becoming a hub for startups.
Jaime Jorge, João Romão, Carlos Silva, Anthony Douglas
A four-way chat took place after, with Jaime Jorge (Codacy), João Romão (GetSocial), Carlos Silva (Seedrs), and Anthony Douglas (Hole19). The conversation went around the subject of raising money. They first talked about the differences between raising capital in the US and in Portugal. They also consider that referrals are key to getting smart investment. One of the speakers told of three important aspects to demonstrate: Market, product, and team. And they agree you shouldn’t be too humble; Go in in a ballsy way, then back it up with numbers.
To end the day on a good note, we heard from Adam Cheyer, co-founder of Siri.
Siri launched in 2011. Two weeks later, Steve Jobs himself calls and invites Adam to his house. He proposes to buy Siri, but Adam refuses. Jobs insists: “come change the world with us”, so this time they accept.
The work in Siri actually started earlier, in 2003. The first Siri prototype is even older, dating from 1993. So it took 17 years from first prototype to first commercial release.
Adam then shared 5 key lessons to take away:
- Ideas can take time to develop
- Look for trends / triggers to time commercial rollout
- Do something hard
- Follow the data
- Visualize it
Another goal to aim for is to go for 50 million users, or $50 million in revenue, or differentiated technology.
“Don’t be scared by technology” he said. And ask yourself “What will success mean, and how will you know when you’re there?”.
Adam finished the Q&A section by telling of his personal experience working with Steve Jobs.
As you can see, this was a packed day. All the talks were interesting, and I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow. So expect the second part of my report soon.