Paddy Cosgrave

Co-founder and CEO Web Summit

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 18, 2016

Discussion

Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
Hi and welcome, My name is Paddy and I am a co-founder and the CEO of Web Summit. Web Summit has grown over the past six years to be the biggest tech and startup event in the world and we can't wait for the next edition in Lisbon in November. I am a founder and an entrepreneur and we are really proud to play our part in the global startup ecosystem Ask me about Web Summit, about our other events around the world, startup success and just about anything else!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, Paddy! Looking forward to going to my first Web Summit later this year. You've had a toooon of great people on the stage. I know this is an unfair question, but who is your favorite?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@rrhoover I'm hoping Ryan Hoover will become favourite, I've heard great things :)... so the truth is when you're running a conference you don't actually get to appreciate every speaker in a way that I'd like. There's just not enough time. Personally my highlights are all related to one simple thing: pub crawls. The fact that Elon Musk, Bono, Jack Dorsey and so many others have happily gone on pub crawls with our attendees when they were at Web Summit was kind of magical, and really speaks to the spirit of the whole community.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you had to swap lives with a tech CEO for a month, who would it be and why?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@bentossell Fabiola Gianotti - she runs CERN - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fa...
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@bentossell it's not just incredibly interesting work, it's so fundamental to everything.
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
What would you encourage makers to do to shape the future in a positive way?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Paddy thanks for joining us today! What secrets to the Web Summit's growth can you share with us? How did you build your audience to such heights in such a short space of time?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@ems_hodge hey that's a great question. Grew up on a farm surrounded by cows and computers. Always interested in software. Tried to make some software in college. Failed. Started a little conference 6 years ago. Applied software to the challenge of bringing people together. It seemed to work. Web Summit has gotten a lot bigger. We use things like graph theory, computer vision and statistics. Our team is part engineers, part data scientists, part conference people. We just focus really hard on making every tiny component of what we do better, from our lanyards to our signage to our own mobile and web apps. It seems to work most of the time. But there's no such thing as perfect, and we work on that basis. Everything we do is imperfect, and next time around we need to make it better. That include how people queue, register, listen, navigate etc.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
If you were to launch a new VC fund and could pick any 5 speakers or participants from Web Summit as your partners, who'd you pick and why?
Vinay Khosla@vinay123 · Co-founder Zenyx.com. Builder. Investor.
Hi. At the Web Summit in Lisbon, which topic will be discussed more: Brexit or Trump? What effect do you think Brexit will have on the tech landscape in Europe, if any? Thanks.
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@vinay123 Trump. Web Summit happens on the week of the US Election.
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Paddy gig fan of yours here and have heard wonderful things, I am intrigued to hear at which point you decided that this could be a massive business and what the catalyst to this realisation was?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@harrystebbings There was no plan. It didn't start as a business. It took two years until we moved out of my sitting room. Four years later there's over 100 of us beavering away in Dublin. I don't think we decided ourselves. When you create a product, like ProductHunt, the community decides... if that makes sense. They ultimately turn your crazy idea from something that starts as a passion and then becomes something more.
Uhma@deleted-594972 · Brr
Hello Paddy, Do you think political startup concept such as MiCandidate ( https://archive.is/3cu63 ) can be revived and be successful, if run and funded properly? Thank you.
lorrynth@lorrynth · lorrynth
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What are some of your favorite: 1) apps 2) books 3) movies 4) Gifs 5) newsletters?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@tomstocklein books are meditation. Underlining in particular. If I want to travel in space or time, I read books. Perhaps too much. In terms of an interesting book that I've recently read, it's go to be Inferred Function of Performance Learning - it's long and dense, but fascinating: https://www.amazon.com/Inferred-... Every morning I use Google's Scholar Metrics as a starting point for an hours reading of academic papers. I generally just read the abstracts, methodology and conclusions/results in a particular field. So I start with papers that are bubbling up in say organisational behaviour over the last 5 years, and then work from there. It's amazing what you learn: https://scholar.google.com/citat... I avoid all books on best seller lists. If it's in an airport book shop then I'm not reading it. I accidentally read a book on check lists a few years ago. It essentially took a paragraph from an academic paper, used some Gladwellian devices, and extended that paragraph to two hundred pages. It's an inefficient way to learn. If I want to learn fast, I don't want narrative or other literary devices, I just want facts and footnotes.
Kunal Bhatia@kunalslab · Co-founder & Design Lead @SlidesUp
@paddycosgrave what's your biggest challenge in running Web Summit, Collision, RISE, etc. as these conferences continue to grow? How does that challenge compare to challenges with more intimate events like F.ounders?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@kunalslab Logistics... organising events on the other side of the world is a huge challenge.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Can you name a few pre-revenue startups that you're currently really excited about (in terms of product, team and vision) and would personally invest in?
Susana Campos@susanacampos486 · CMO, 486software.com
Hi Paddy, its 486Software first time at Web Summit Lisbon. Give us your main tip for the show. Thanks
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@susanacampos486 Great to hear you are coming - we have lots of startups coming from Porto. There is a basic thing we always say to startups coming to Web Summit and that is “do your prep” and then be prepared to hustle, hustle and hustle some more. Our startup team will help as the days count down with lots of tips and advice. But in more general terms, I think you have to come to an event like Web Summit with an open mind. Come to meet people and be open to new ideas and new contacts. Attendees tell us that's what makes their Web Summit special.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Paddy! If you had to start all over again with your event, what five things would you do differently?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@theo_dimarhos I'm not sure about 5 things, but I'd definitely get a more comfortable sofa for the first 2 years.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Instead of who has been your favourite all-time speaker, what was your favourite part of a speech that resonated most for you?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@bentossell The late David Carr in conversation with Bono, Dana, Bill and Eric - oh here's a sneak peak at a product we're launching next week - a massive video archive of hundreds of our talks: https://videos.websummit.net/web...
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
Hey Paddy, have you found any method to be particularly effective when you and your team are reaching out to potential speakers?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@nivo0o0 Customer feedback. You can't tell a potential speaker your conference is great, past speakers however can. The product should do the talking.
Thomas Lesenechal@tlesenechal · Founder www.growmance.co 🇫🇷
Hi Paddy, I've recenlty read that you grew Web Summit by hiring Data Scientists, could you describe a bit this topic ? what have been your main challenges ? Thanks
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@tlesenechal I got logged out as I pressed submit... it was an amazing answer... I will follow up later. Apologies
daniel morgan@daniel__morgan · Product Designer
Will you ever start another event that will run in Ireland ? I understand that web summit had grown up in Ireland and had to move for many factors but is there room for another event ?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@daniel__morgan As you know we needed to move Web Summit in order to grow the event but that is not to say we won’t be back in Dublin at some point soon. Of course there is room for another event, probably on a smaller scale. Dublin is a fantastic city and it will always be my home town. That said, we've already piloted a new conference in Dublin. We kept it very key. Watch this space.
daniel morgan@daniel__morgan · Product Designer
@paddycosgrave thanks paddy I will , your a great lad. keep wearing the aran jumpers.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Thanks for doing this. what have you found to be the best ways to convince big players to be part of your event?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@theo_dimarhos It's been word of mouth. One good conference with 10 speakers, helps persuade 20 the following year. People talk. Remember we started incredibly small. It takes time to build momentum. Just focus on building one very good, very small conference and work from there.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
What are a couple of things that other events do, that you would love to incorporate in Web Summit?
Paddy Cosgrave@paddycosgrave
@theo_dimarhos Dust, EDM and outrageous outfits might jazz up our 9am sessions post pub crawls.