Berytech led a delegation of 15 startups from 7 Mediterranean countries including Lebanon, to take part in the Web Summit in Lisbon: the biggest digital and technology event of the world. Part of EU-funded The Next Society program, the objective of the mission focused on showcasing innovative startups from the Mediterranean and supporting them in scaling their activities on the international level.
Seventy thousand people attended the Web Summit this year, a huge leap from the 400 who attended in 2010 when it first started. With the simple idea of connecting the technology community with all industries, both old and new, The Web Summit has become an unparalleled meeting place for the world’s most disruptive tech companies.
Exposure to International Trends
Entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean delegation chose from dozens of panels, workshops, targeted networking and B2B meetings to extract the most value from the conference for themselves.
“I attended a lot of marketing talks and panels since this was an area in which I wanted to expand my knowledge. I learned about the importance of storytelling in any marketing campaign and more about audience targeting and how it helps us reach better results with the same marketing budget. I also learned about the importance of clear communication of the company’s purpose and message in any outlet we market through, even in our personal communication with individuals,” explains Mark Khoury, founder of Lebanese startup Handiss.
He continues, “As a first-time attendee, I believe that every entrepreneur in the MENA region should visit at least once the Web Summit, to understand that they are part of a larger community that shares their problems and difficulties. Personally, I benefited a lot from the positivity of this community and how it always strives to move forward and disrupt every status quo in every market you could think of. This gave me a huge motivational boost, to push further and grow faster.”
“By sponsoring me to go to the Web Summit, the Next Society and Berytech gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people from all around the world and to be exposed to the latest discussions, challenges, and opportunities that the world is facing. This exposure has definitely contributed to my vision for my startup on both the short and long term,” confirms Ghassan Abi Fadel, founder of Lebanese startup Moodfit.
He sums up his biggest learnings at the Web Summit in 3 points:
- When creating an online experience make it visual, make it move, make it interactive and most importantly make it obvious. Don’t reinvent the wheel!
- When trying A/B testing in marketing, try big swings and not minor incremental changes.
- When an opinion about your product is costing you more than it is earning you, it becomes a dogma. Beware of getting stuck with dogmas at your company.
Connections and Visibility
Within the conference, the delegation had access to exhibitors from around the globe including startups, corporates, government bodies, business support, and innovation agencies.
The Berytech team facilitated connections, exchange meetings and even potential collaboration among the participants themselves. ‘Tap into Canada”, for example, was a scheduled networking session where participants connected with different business development agencies from Canada, that can support them in accessing the market.
“Most of my previous experiences were in the MENA region, the Web Summit opened my brain, eyes and gave me a peek into the west and the different market and mindsets,” details Wael Noufal, founder of BlinkApp.
In parallel, the Berytech team completed their mission to source potential international partnerships and programs to expand access to networks and opportunities for Lebanese entrepreneurs. They also sought to discover the best practices and business support trends to entrepreneurs to help Lebanese startups grow internationally, widen the network of connections and to view how other ecosystems are organized.
Partners in Innovation
Berytech made the Web Summit trip possible through its partnership with The Next Society program. Here is what other participants in the delegation had to say:
“The next society has always been the entity that believed first in our project and helped supporting it from its early stages and for that, we will always be grateful.” – Nader Zouaoi, founder of eDonec.
“The Next Society offers entrepreneurs in its community a great opportunity to open their business at an international level and grow their network of clients and partners, making their startup a key player internationally. Thank you for these opportunities.” – Naim Nasreddine, founder of Lebanese startup Towbe.
“From now on, there will be a before and after Web Summit for me. Many thanks to The Next Society, Berytech and Startup Maroc for this opportunity.” – Ashraf el Amine, founder of Piloote.
About the Next Society
Berytech is the official partner of The Next Society in Lebanon, an open community of change-makers engaged in innovation and economic development. It gathers entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, NGOs, public and private innovation, research and economic development hubs from Europe and the Mediterranean countries. The Next Society gathers a large network of over 300 business and innovation, research and investment organizations, 2,500 international SMEs and entrepreneurs from 30 countries. The Next Society launched a four-year action plan (2017-2020), co-funded by the EU with up to 90% for a global amount of EUR 7.8 million budget, with a part dedicated to achieving its objectives in Lebanon through its partnership with Berytech.