Startups – A big change?

Dr. Kevin Cunningham, who teaches statistics at the Dublin Institute of Technology, led a huge survey effort at Web Summit 2016 along with Dr. Aaron Meagher, formerly of the Technical University of Berlin. Based on these results we’ve decided to make a radical change for 2017.

We’re reducing the cost of our ALPHA programme by 56 percent as well as reducing the number of places, but not for the reasons you might expect. To understand why, first some context.

  1. – Over 490,000 startups from around the world have started the application for ALPHA over the last four years.
  2. – Of these, 6,200 have exhibited at Web Summit – approximately 1.3 percent of applicants.
  3. – In 2016, more startups exhibited at Web Summit than any other conference in the world.
  4. – Of those who exhibited, 78 percent are already planning to return; 70 percent were visited by investors at their booths; and 83 percent had a one-to-one meeting with an investor, speaker or partner as part of our Office and Mentor Hours schemes.
  5. – 86 percent of the startups rated the experience at Web Summit four stars or higher. Put another way, 48 percent rated it five stars and 37 percent gave it four stars.

The experience for startups at Web Summit is unparalleled. So you may ask what’s the problem? Well if you dig deeper, there’s a serious problem.

When you survey startups that we selected to be part of ALPHA but declined in 2016, the overwhelming reason was cost in 77 percent of cases. That reason increases to more than 95 percent in cases where a startup is based in the developing world. Of the startups that declined, 81 percent are based in the developing world. That’s a problem.

We want Web Summit to be a truly global gathering, and we know our attendees, in particular attending investors, do too. Web Summit is now the largest technology conference on earth. We’ve made a huge effort to increase female participation over the last year, providing 10,000 tickets for to Women in Tech to Web Summit 2016.

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ALPHA attendees at Web Summit 2016

Now we want to go further. We think we can do a lot more to democratise access for startups from the developing world to our more than 1,500 investors, 2,000 media and more than 50,000 attendees.

We’re confident we can make this radical change without compromising in any way on the quality of experience for startups. And in the interests of simplicity this change will apply to startups from everywhere applying for our ALPHA programme.

For full transparency, ticket prices have increased by 29 percent year over year for Web Summit, however as stated above the cost of exhibiting as a startup as part of ALPHA is decreasing by 56 percent. We are also decreasing the number of early-stage startups overall, while increasing the number of growth-stage startups for our BETA and START categories.

In short, we’re making it harder to be selected for ALPHA, but if your startup is selected we’re reducing the cost by half.

You can check out how we choose startups here or you can apply for all our events around the world here.

I hope to see you somewhere around the world in 2017. If you’re interested in a more technical post, Dr. Aaron Meagher has also published his views on the data.

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