Numerous are the festival-like startup conferences that have popped up around Europe in recent years. Phenomena such as Web Summit in Dublin and Slush in Helsinki gathered tens of thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs and investors earlier this fall. Last week, the 11th edition of the established for digital innovation – Le Web – took place in Paris. Swedish Startup Space was there to check it out, talk to the startups representing Sweden and learn more about the latest in the world of digital innovation.
At this year’s Le Web, fifteen Swedish startups had been selected to be part of The Swedish Startup Collective, a co-exhibit with Business Sweden, Ericsson, Tradedoubler and Widespace, meant to promote Swedish startups and help them do business in France. Through building a good relationship with the Le Web during three years as exhibitor, The Swedish Startup Collective had now been assigned a premium stand in the very epicenter of the conference venue, just across the room from Google. The location and the beautiful, simplistic yellow and blue design, made for a vibrant hub of meetings and conversations throughout the conference.
Many industry verticals represented
The Swedish startups that were present covered a wide range of industry verticals within Swedish community, ranging from high-tech to fintech and healthcare. I caught up with a few of them to ask how they ended up here, and how they like it so far. Here’s what they told me.
Liveling is research project just recently turned into a startup, based on technology that enables multiple mobile devices to broadcast an event simultaneously. Arvid, their CEO, expressed the following:
“In general, I feel like there is higher quality among the exhibitors and that people are a lot more accessible than at the academic conferences that I am used to. It is great to be here at such an early stage because it helps us to get our idea out there, build awareness about our existence and get input from investors, telcom-companies, media etcetera.”
Johnny from Mentimeter, a startup that provides a tool and platform for interactive presentations, added:
“I think the quality of individuals here has been very good, but I’ve heard better speakers. Le Web is a really great place to meet people that matter and have high level discussions on topics such as investments and strategic partnerships. In general I feel like there is a higher level of professionalism here than on the other big tech conferences I’ve been to.”
“In general I feel like there is a higher level of professionalism here than on the other big tech conferences I’ve been to.”
High level of professionalism
And indeed, the level of professionalism was high. The QR code on your badge seamlessly gave access to everything in the digital and physical world, and after you’d had a good conversation with an exhibitor, they’d scan it to remember you. Conference food such as wraps and salads were replaced by French delicates from the boucherie and fromagerie, and was available at all times.
A relaxed cocktail party at the Swedish ambassador’s residence the first night help jump start the spontaneous conversations between startups and select investors and corporate representatives. Mingling in the was the founder of Freelance.com, a digital innovation delegation from Swedbank as well as the innovation director of Turkcell where there, for example.
When I at the end of the conference asked Haruld, CEO at Plotagon, a startup that has built an automatic video generator, about his biggest takeaway he said:
“The best thing about Le Web is that I ran into the ex CEO at Yahoo, and he was totally into our idea.”
An important bridge between the English and French worlds
Jonas Barle, CEO of Load Impact, regularly attends many of the world’s biggest tech conferences and makes the following analysis:
“Le Web doesn’t offer as much contact with potential customers as other big tech events, but on the other hand, it provides a lot of strategic ins. For example I had a great conversation with the founder of Freelance.com and also with one of the heads of investment at Microsoft. Le Web is the French world’s only good bridge into the English-speaking world so it remains a very important meeting place. Right now it’s only about 1/4th of the amount of attendees compared to it’s golden days, but on the other hand that has given me the opportunity to talk to people that I wouldn’t be able to talk to otherwise.”
“Le Web doesn’t offer as much contact with potential customers as other big tech events, but on the other hand, it provides a lot of strategic ins.”
“Although there has been quite a few new conferences popping up over the past couple of years, Velocity, based out of San Francisco and New York, according to me still remains the best. What we see emerging though, is more niched conferences. One that I really like is for example the Nordic API conference that takes place in Stockholm each fall.”
Erik Åhlin, CEO at Vidispine – a place to discover content and harvest metadata, is an experienced conference attendee. He says:
”I really like the quality level of the exposition stand that Business Sweden has created with the brand ”The Swedish Startup Collective”. It’s probably the best spot one can have here at Le Web. I was proactive and scheduled about 40 meeting during my 3-4 day stay this year. It’s a great opportunity to build relationships, partnership and business. We are here because it is good for us to step outside of the little bubble that we normally live in.”
Great atmosphere among the Swedes
The atmosphere among the attending Swedish startups was great. A conference abroad like this gives a unique opportunity to spend quality time together for a few days with business related as well as casual conversations. At the end of the conference, the finals for the startup competition at Le Web took place. We were all there and cheered for Elina from the startup NaturalCycles that prevents pregnancies naturally, as she won the 3rd prize.
All in all, Le Web 2014 was a great strategic place to expose Swedish digital innovation. Erik André, one of the responsible hosts from Business Sweden, concluded that they were really happy with the event. Both internal and external evaluations will now be conducted, and If they get the same response in the evaluations as last year, a similar offer might be given to the startup community again. So to all you Swedish startups out there who’d like to get some connections with strategic partners and investors, or just want to experience the vibe of Paris and tech for a few days in December, make sure apply to be part of The Swedish Startup Collective at Le Web 2015!
Here is a complete list of all the Swedish startups represented:
- Loadimpact, loadimpact.com
- Tinytell, tinitell.com
- Snowfire, snowfire.se
- PickHitMe, pichit.me
- Mentimeter, mentimeter.com
- Situs, situs.se
- Postify, postify.com
- Vidispine, vidixplore.com
- NaturalCycles, naturalcycles.com
- Plotagon, plotagon.com
- Widespace, widespace.com
- Tink, tink.com
- Liveling, (no website yet)
- SUP46, sup46.com