Web Summit 2019 insights for early-stage startups

Dec 6 2019
5 min
Ira Melnic
Marketing Specialist

What happens in Lisbon surely doesn't stay in Lisbon! And we are here to make sure it’s how it works. At Web Summit, we hunted the most practical advice for early-stage startups.

Over 76.000 tech enthusiasts and innovation evangelists made their way to the capital of Portugal, seeking to discover and contribute to the future of technology at Web Summit 2019. What’s in it for early-stage startups?

While the stage areas were filled with people grasping insights from 1206 tech leaders, we made the most from the exhibition which showcased 2150 startups and we were impressed by what we discovered.


No more Unicorn Wanna-Be Attitude. The top goal is to make a considerable impact. 


We got surprised to not hear from startups present there about the desire to become a unicorn. All the entrepreneurs we talked to were insanely driven by the vision of bringing change to and by using technology, regardless of the industry.

For early-stage startups, it was amazing to be there. The concentration of best practices, entrepreneurship tips & tricks, and the long-lasting motivation to be met at Web Summit outran any expectations. Here are the most powerful lessons early-stage startups should know of, all grasped and carefully delivered to you through the words of the startup founders themselves. 


Top 7 practical insights for early-stage startups from startup founders


Early-Stage startup in eCommerce and retail, Mammalo Technology, and its co-founder Maxime van den Berg with Wolfpack Digital


"Plan on how you are going to make money from the very start. This also means you need to decide early on which channels-to-market you want to test and test them quickly. If either of these two points is missing, you will catch yourself wasting a lot of time and possibly going out of the market before you intended."

Maxime van den Berg, Co-Founder and Growth Manager at Mammalo Technology

About the startup: A London-based App that follows you to find any services you need by matching you with the right service expert near you. 

Industry: eCommerce & Retail 

Country: UK


Early-Stage startup in travel and hospitality, FOLO, and its co-founder Tabea Arnold at Web Summit with Wolfpack Digital


“It is hard to motivate and empower yourself when building up a startup. However, I PROMISE- it is the most powerful and exciting learning curve you can experience. Not only do you start from scratch, you learn to network, cooperate, and most importantly - to be independent. You will go through times where you have no start and end, doubts, and many other uncertainties. Nevertheless, do not stop believing in your idea and your innovation. See it this way- you are the one who brings new advantages to people and simplifies their everyday life.”

Tabea Arnold, Co-Founder FOLO


About the startup: FOLO is a revolutionizing, agile travel technology connecting friends through experiences of the most magical hidden gems.

Industry: Travel & Hospitality. 

Country: Austria


Early-Stage startup in philanthropy and social good, Handout, and its COO Harry Ezeniba at Web Summit with Wolfpack Digital


"Ensure that you are able to separate the leaders from the founders who are the visionaries in your team. But most important is that you have to be as clear and honest as possible about your goal, to know who your target audiences are and how you want to impact them."

Harry O. Ezeniba, COO at Handout


About the startup: An app where users can claim or donate items for free or at a max cost of $10, with the option of donating proceeds to partner charities. 

Industry: Philanthropy & Social Good 

Country: Canada


Early-Stage startup in HR and recruitment, Goldi, and its co-founder and CTO TC Meggs with Wolfpack Digital


"First of all, it's so much more about your team than it is about your product. Most of the ideas are bad at the beginning. A team is what you need to turn your idea into a successful business. Look for somebody you can work with being mutually beneficial to each other.

Second of all, for early-stage startups and not only, never go 50/50 with your partner. Somebody will always be pulling more weight than another. The most basic way to deal with that is by establishing some kind of roles. There is an excellent book called "Slicing the pie" which talks about earning based equity. So you outline what each of you is supposed to do and what slice of the pie gets. The one who drops will not get the benefits. Many startups start strong, make some money, get some traction, but then a couple of people don't pull their weight, causing a lot of drama. Prevent these situations not to damage your growing business."

TC Meggs, Co-Founder and CTO at Goldi


About the startup: Bringing jobs and candidates to life through video. Headhunt with video job posts, screens with video cover letters.

Industry: HR & Recruitment

Country: The USA


Early-Stage startup in education, SAPIE, and its COO Hugo Calderia at Web Summit with Wolfpack Digital


"You must believe in what you are doing. There are more and more startups with excellent ideas, but in one year, nobody is talking about many of them anymore. Startups fail because there was a passion but not so well directed for a solution. Another piece of advice is to choose your investors wisely. For instance, we are not looking for investors that want to give us money but investors that want to make a difference in the world."

Hugo Calderia, COO at SAPIE


About the startup: SAPIE is an education early warning cloud solution, helping organizations to leave no students behind. 

Industry: Education 

Country: Portugal


Early-Stage startup in AI and Machine Learning, AIR, and its founding member Gregory Szriftgiser with Wolfpack Digital


“Saying “I want to be an entrepreneur” is akin to saying “I want to be famous”; it’s not a goal in itself in that it is not supported by a vision and/or a mission, it’s just a status. It’s basically useless to anyone but you, as an objective. If, on the other hand, you want to make a change and bring innovation to society, then you may have to become an entrepreneur in order to successfully implement your ideas. In other words, you become an entrepreneur when there is basically no better choice for you to make a difference no one else seems to be making.”

Gregory Szriftgiser, Founding Member AIR (AI Redefined)


About the startup: Improving the synergy between humans and machines by creating a full loop of continuous learning between them. 

Industry: AI & Machine Learning 

Country: Canada


Early-Stage startup in HR and recruitment, Tribe, and its founder and CEO Olya Ryabinina with Wolfpack Digital


“Do not try to do it all alone because no one is a jack of all trades. You might be a great idea generator, storyteller and marketer but you will inevitably lack another skill, might it be technology or finance or any other. Try to find a partner, a co-founder that will compliment your skillset and, most importantly, will help you get out of your own head.” 

Olya Ryabinina, Founder & CEO Tribe


About the startup: First global career development platform that matches digital marketing experts with jobs & mentors based on skills, industries, and values.

Industry: HR & Recruitment

Country: The USA


Once early-stage startups, these highlights brought these businesses we talked to at the point of having a team put together, the product developed, investments coming their way, and the potential to become the top-notch tech solution that redesigns everyday living. As a side consequence, some of them may even run the media headings with the Unicorn title.

Being a skyrocketing business in progress, one of the early-stage startups, you can perhaps reconsider your startup mindset according to what you have just read. Your business development depends on that. But what about product development? Top app developers from Transylvania can definitely help you with that. We made an effort to deliver you the best of Web Summit 2019. We will be running hundreds of extra miles to build your stunning web or mobile app so that you can rock Web Summit 2020.

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