Saturday 16 December 2017

Rival conferences to Web Summit making dramatic pitches to Irish startups

Paddy Cosgrave speaking at the Web Summit in The RDS
Paddy Cosgrave speaking at the Web Summit in The RDS
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Rival conferences to the Web Summit are already making dramatic pitches to Irish startups looking for a place to go next year.

Amsterdam’s equivalent to The Web Summit, called The Next Web (TNW) Conference, is offering Irish startups and Irish “entrepreneurs” a claimed 90pc off ticket prices for its European conference in May next year. That equates to a discount from €1,000 to €100, according to the company.

A day after Paddy Cosgrave’s firm announced that it was moving the Web Summit from Dublin to Lisbon, TNW co-founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten has made the pitch to try and get early traction from the Web Summit’s departure.

“Ireland, and Dublin especially, is one of Europe’s most important tech hubs,” he said. “We think the Irish tech scene will feel right at home in Amsterdam. We share the same zest for life and a lively social scene. And fans of the Web Summit will not be disappointed by TNW Conference, as we offer an equally strong speaker lineup and a similar scale.”

The TNW Conference, he said, is expecting 20,000 attendees for a week of tech talks, startup exhibitions, a music festival and over 140 side events.

Veldhuijzen van Zanten described the Web Summit’s move to “abandon” Dublin for Lisbon as “a kick in the crotch” for the local tech community.

“It was an integral, homebred event,” he said.

Veldhuijzen van Zanten also said that his organisation recently mischievously decked out an Amsterdam five-star hotel with TNW stickers when Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave was staying there to meet local city officials about a possible move to the Dutch city.

“We also had a bottle of champagne delivered to the table during their intimate dinner, along with a note welcoming Paddy to the city,” he said. “But it suggested that he probably shouldn’t get too comfortable. All in jest, of course.”

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