Right after publishing the blog post that I will participate in this year's Web Summit 2015 in Dublin I got a couple of requests by our startup clients. They in particular asked two questions:
• Why I break the rule, I preach all the time not to attend startup events?
• When breaking the rule why then by going to Web Summit, the event accused of being a scam?
Before continuing this article, I have to give a full disclaimer: I have been invited by the Web Summit team to do media coverage, especially on Fintech covered in the Money Summit.
There is no other affiliation nor have I been asked to publish an article about the allegations.
I have never been to Web Summit before, although I know the conference since its beginning, so I cannot give you a first-hand insight about participation in the past.
Still I deem it important to write about the subject matter as it is discussed also in Germany and it is a perfect occasion to illustrate some insights that are valuable for our readers, startups and (not yet) clients in general.
Valuing information quickly - the scam critique on Web Summit
The first insight is about how to evalue the fraud allegations on a general level as such situations repeat over time.
There is so much information – and (emotional) opinion snippets (aka Shitstorm) in the web that the first thing you need is a quick technique with which you can assess information in a very short time (the business case for structured feeds).
A simple, but effective way I found over time – albeit not being perfect - is to check the volume of reaction e.g. in form of comments. The danger is to overvalue emotional reactions leading to many comments (or good social media teams commenting) as they can be very far removed from reality, but it is one indicator.
With 55 and 12 comments on the relevant articles on Tech.eu you get the impression that the problem cannot be as huge compared to about 20000 participants in 2014
A second indicator is that most people preferred to remain anonymous. In this case, it is strange because it should not be a problem to tell your story when others did so openly. What do you have to lose as a start-up when you speak out against an event? They might not invite you or sell you a ticket in the future - so what? They are not your customers, nor your investors. And once you are in the unicorn club, they will invite you in any case. If not invited then, it is still a great media story, so why care.
Then there was another sentence in one article that caught my attention: