By Patrick van der Valk Practical help for CEO’s and Leaders in SME’s. Over 20 years of marketing, science, and technology experience in San Francisco, London, and Lisbon.

Can a beam of positive energy change a country?

I just came back from the WebSummit and it feels great. Was it perfect? No. I think some of the speakers could’ve been stronger and less self-serving. I also think we reached capacity this year. It was a bit too full. I think the food stands should have be more diverse. Too many burgers. I also think the WebSummit app should have a feature to add your own meetings to ‘My Schedule’ so I am not constantly switching between apps. So not perfect, but it was really good and it feels that the WebSummit could have a real impact on Portugal.

I see hope, I see acceptance, I see money, I see entrepreneurs. Portuguese and foreign. I see a general will-do attitude.

I’ve lived in Portugal for 20+ years. I was one of the early entrepreneurs. I started a “Founders Dinner” in the early 2000’s because it was perhaps the only way to connect with others who shared a will-do attitude.

Now the start-up scene is booming. So many founders. Accelerators. Angle funds. And the WebSummit is a big step towards giving them legitimacy in the eyes of society. The Summit is an entity that is hard to miss.

The event’s massive presence starts at the airport. The volunteers are everywhere. Signs to the WebSummit are in most public transports. The event is on the national news. When I mention that I will represent the Irish Tech News (ITN) at the WebSummit, my Portuguese friends tellme that they had heard of the event (not ITN, although they do now :). Apart from music festivals, nothing is as big in Portugal as the WebSummit.

Will this have a positive influence on Lisbon and therefore the rest of the country? It’s hard to imagine that it won’t. Yes, the great weather helps this positive outlook. Everything feels better when the sun is shining, there are cool talks, and lots of futuristic innovation on display. Portugal has its issues, but it is improving and it is a good place to live, if you can succeed here. With what the WebSummit brings, I think more people can/will succeed here. I think the positive energy the WebSummit gives off, rubs off on the city and the country. In a world so full of problems, that is makes smile.

As such, a big thanks to Paddy Cosgrave and his team. I know event organization is tough, but things went really smoothly. At least from where I stood. Even the security was efficient and made me feel like they should: secure without feeling intimidated.

See you next year!


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