I attended Web Summit for the first time with my start-up nakeaid: a business that incorporates smart health and fitness wearable devices into sportswear. My first collection is designed especially for female cyclists and triathletes.
Having completed L'Étape du Tour, a cycling race in the framework of Tour de France that took place this summer, I realised that women suffer from a lack of choice and comfort when it comes to cycling gear, which was originally developed for men and then adapted. This is how nakeaid was born. We aim to dress sportspeople in comfortable, stylish clothes, highlight their uniqueness, intelligence and strength of spirit.
We live in the 21st century and technology is our future. According to forecasts, every person will have at least one wearable device by 2020. Working in cooperation with Embedded Systems – a team of software developers from Latvia who have produced more than 100 devices for smarthomes – nakeaid has found a solution to incorporate fitness wearables into sports clothes, helping athletes to monitor their activity and protect them from heart disease.
Web Summit was an exceptional opportunity to meet like-minded people, present the idea and improve it by sharing experiences, listening to successful entrepreneurs and seeing unique inventions. Undoubtedly, it is a great business and tech event and a must-visit in networking terms. Unless you're a complete newbie, you know the context and trends from, say, TechCrunch and Financial Times. If you're a professional, the value is likely to be in networking and in speakers' closed events.
The speakers themselves were rather patchy in quality: you're equally likely to stumble upon someone brilliant, like the founder of Pebble, as to be trapped in an ego-wrestling panel discussion. It is surprising how many experienced speakers still can't convey their message in a 15-minute format.
There are plenty of opportunities for start-ups but success depends greatly on the amount of effort put into the stand, prototypes, messaging and participation (or not) on the Pitch stage. Using the app to find workshops and seminars was brilliant, but it's hard to get a reply or any output from the people on there you'd actually like to meet. It would helpful to have an opportunity to arrange these meetings in advance, or be able to use a room with short introductions between people of common interest.
Another area for improvement is the physical space around stands: it should be a bit bigger to make it easier to come up and talk to the owners of a start-up. Overall, I'd say the event was not eye-opening, but definitely inspiring. I will be back next year.
Find out more about nakeaid at http://www.nakeaid.com.