I'm just back from the Dublin Web Summit 2012 this week and it was quite an event with hundreds of startups pitching.
Paddy Cosgrave has made some great strides in building this into a phenomenal event within only a few years and it really helps Ireland's economy to get back on the road to recovery, drawing thousands of attendees into the country. Paddy has built the f.ounders event into an exclusive 'meetup' for some of the world's top internet leaders.
The startups in attendance varied widly in quality and I would say only a 1/3 were from Ireland. I think there has to be a better way of filtering so many startups based on stage and financing requirements as they were all bundled into one pool, so pairing the entrepreneurs with suitably staged investors is important to give a good experience for both parties. I took part in a speed funding session for an hour, for around 3-5 minutes startups pitched to you alongside other investors, sat shouler to shoulder to process so many companies. The problem was it was just a free for all with my time wasted on companies that are not investment ready or in our sweetspot as well as a poor experience for the pitching companies. It was so noisy I could barely hear the pitches and got little more out of it than a headache. I hope that this can be refined so that all parties get a better experience with matched investors in possibly a cubicle style area.
As a 'Lean VC' we need to be sure we got the most value out of any expenditure and in actual fact I calculated I spent probably only four hours at the summit event with the rest being taken up at meetings off site in the hotels, bars and restaurants around the venue. I have also found with any exhibition that the big takeaway is not around the presentations and speeches but the one to one's and the connections that can be made at such events. DWS makes the effort more than most in putting people together, it is an inherent Irish trait that comes through in the event.
Aside from the DWS I met with some accelerators in Dublin, there are more than five in Dublin now, more than we have here in London!
Given there are so many accelerators, to make the trip worthwhile for investors it would be great if they could bring all the investor days together over a few days and I think plans are afoot for this next year, however some accelerators like Wayra are not keen on this model and prefer a rolling investment process which is understandable given startups can be at very different stages and trying to synchronise them all to be 'investor ready' must be very difficult.
Dublin is on our geographic investment map as well as Edinburgh and London and we hope to build relations into both countries in the coming months and years.