7 Key Takeaways from The Next Web Conference by Seats2meet


The Next Web is one of Europe’s largest technology conferences, with more than 17 500 participants from around the world. There were present the hottest startups on the continent, corporates eager to innovate and governmental officials supporting the latest technological developments, all connected by their passion for innovation and technology. 

Spending 2 full days with brightest tech-minded people on the continent, we were fortunate to attend many inspiring talks, workshops and networking rounds. Thus, summing up our experience in the conference, we’re happy to share 7 most curious insights, advice or observations in the world of technology for the year to come.

  • Amsterdam is at the forefront of the world startup ecosystem

During TNW, Startup Genome released its report on the state of startup ecosystems around the world. In the past year, Amsterdam has climbed the most points from all the capital cities in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2019. It moved to the 15th place in the overall ranking and 5th in Europe.

This significantly improved ratings are a result of an increased investment in technology and the overall development of the local startup scene – including local incubators, accelerators, corporate initiatives and government sponsored programmes. Moreover, large startup exits, which include multi-billion dollar IPOs of Adyen and Elastic, added to the city’s growth. And Seats2meet, an active participant of the Dutch tech scene, is proud to be a part of this outstanding growth!

  • The future of work is remote

The future of work was on of the key themes of the whole conference – in fact, this topic is so important for the future of tech, so it took up one of the stages for the whole day. Seats2meet, as one of the pioneers of the remote work, was particularly curious to be attending the talks of the major thought leaders in the field.

The issues discussed on the stage included how changing work environment affects organizations, how to manage remote teams and how to maintain and activate your networks without the bounds of the usual office space. The underlying thought behind: traditional 40 hour work week from the office is a thing of the past. Remote work is no longer a prerogative of only digital knowmads, but also of employees who want to have more control of their time, and tech industry is at the forefront of the future of work transformation.  

  • Marketing is reality

The marketing of the future is not about catchy slogans mind-blogging winner takes all campaigns, it’s more about your personal story and how you came into doing what you’re doing. As Haitian-American entrepreneur Christine Souffrant Ntim put it, it matters no longer what you do, but instead why you do it. Your story becomes the core of all your activities, marketing included.

And modern tech innovations give the companies more tools than ever to convey their story – be that AI or one of more than 5000 phone apps released daily! Together with the power of storytelling, the power of analytics goes hand in hand, helping shaping up the offer and understanding customer needs.

  • Go high and to the right

The keynote speakers, tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki, shared some of his unconventional pieces of life wisdom during the conference. According to him, to succeed in business, career or even relationship, you have to follow one rule: get high and to the right.

“It’s not about weed or politics, it’s the graph you have to follow to succeed, where you chart uniqueness on one axis, and value on the other.” The idea is to optimize your offer on the top right side of the graph, which means creating offering which is both unique and valuable. As an example, Kawasaki put forth Apple Ipod, unique and valuable in a way that “a user interface anyone could operate, connected to a massive legal music library, and granted access to songs for very little money.”

Creating offerings which are neither unique nor valuable, according to the famous author, is stupid – you’re not just going to an unprofitable area, but it’s also crowded in there!

  • Change in tech can only be achieved together

As a digital business, it’s becoming easier than ever to go global. However, expanding to the new markets often proves to be a dangerous adventure underestimated by many. A lot of companies fail to optimize their offering according to local conditions when expanding to new markets. This is an issue which can be solved by increased closeness of national ecosystems with each other.

At this moment, the vast resources in the field of technology are no longer limited only to selected few ecosystems. While North America still continues to dominate the tech scene, with 10 out of 20 top startup ecosystems located there, the situation gradually changes. The overall concentration of value created by the top 10 startup ecosystem continues to decline steadily throughout the years – 68% in 2019, verses 87% in 2012.

With that in mind, there is an increased space for development for European companies, and supporting each other, weather with financial resources or networks, is essential for the change and growth to happen.     

  • Important factors of startup success and failure

In his presentation, Olaf Acker, the EMEA digital service leader, described the main aspects of startup failure and success. Number one reason of failure of the new technology to take off now, as always, is the lack of market need. In fact, this issue is so prevalent that 42% of all startups fail because they do not match the market needs. Running out of cash runs a close second, with 29% failure rate attributed to that. Want to create a healthy, financially sustainable business? Then reporting and accounting should be your best friends!

Moreover, the common characteristics of successful startups are prior startup experience within the team, product and industry knowledge. And the most universal piece of advice for everyone eager to become an entrepreneur – stay sane, you’re in for a stressful, demanding, yet fascinating ride!

  • Leadership and growth must embrace failure

In his talk, Gabe Zickerman states that failure is not just inevitable on the way to success – it’s unavoidable, and there is little point trying to avoid failing all together, but instead it’s important to make a point of learning from your mistakes and understanding what caused them.

How to achieve that? Make a list of all your failures and divide them in the 4 categories, which represent Zickerman’s take on the famous SWOT matrix (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Gabe’s categories are Screw Ups (minor, ignore), Weaknesses (immutable, accept), Growth Opportunities (understand, change), Terminal Failure (Embrace, Analyze, Share)

With the help of this matrix, you will be able to separate failures which are a part of your personality, and thus inevitable, from failures which can help you improve and teach you useful lessons. The main takeaway – if you’re not failing, you’re probably not realizing your full potential!


Article by Kamila Ishalina


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