Web Summit & Rise: From Europe to Asia

There's been a lot of buzz about RISE recently on social media. It's the sister conference of the Web Summit which we attended in Dublin last year, and which I personally got a lot out of. We're delighted that this year Odigo has been selected for the Alpha Rise program which will take place in Hong Kong - the same city where our owners, RedHorse are based.
Paddy Cosgrave on stage at Web Summit Dublin 2014 -- Photo by Kuv
The Alpha Rise program is a group of startups that have been hand picked by the Rise team to exhibit for free (the bigger tech companies will pay more than $9,000 USD to exhibit).
Going back to November 2014, the Web Summit is one of Europe’s largest tech conferences. At its helm is tech-son-of-Ireland, Paddy Cosgrave. Having never been to Ireland before even though I’m from Scotland, (my friends and colleagues were amused that it took me to come all the way out to live and work in Tokyo, to go back over there and visit a country that I’d been so close to for most of my life) I was interested to see how Dublin coped with over 20,000 people descending on the relatively small city.
Welcome at Dublin Airport -- Photo by Kuv
It’s easy to see how the Web Summit has impacted the city in a positive way, Dublin is self-proclaimed as the silicon valley of Europe and all the leaders of the tech world were there to be a part of it. The conference has grown rapidly in four years, from 400 people in their first year, to a massive 20,000 strong crowd - a pretty phenomenal success rate!
The Web Summit is best described as being similar to a music festival but for tech. You’re given a wristband that allows you entry into the various tents set up for seminars, talks, food, and of course, for all the summits - music, tech, marketing, and food.
It was my first time experiencing something like this. Gone were the drab days of conservative style business conferences, here we have bright lights, and the futuristic world of tech, startups and social media. The atmosphere was incredible, it was exciting to be somewhere new, to collectively gather energy, passion and drive from entrepreneurs across the world.
Ringing the NASDAQ Bell at Web Summit -- Photo by Kuv
There were some great keynotes, some interesting seminars, and of course, the Guinness at the after parties was key to networking in the evening. I could see where Odigo could fit in at an event like this, I took away ideas for booth design, how people were interacting with the attendees, vying for their attention at the startup arena, and I felt motivated by the people I met.
Recently, Andreas Tschas, the co-founder and CEO of the Pioneers Festival (in Vienna) asked the question on a trip to Tokyo, why does everything have to go through Silicon Valley? He’s right. Reading up on tech news recently, it seems that Silicon Valley and friends is old news, it’s saturated, it’s time to bring Europe and Asia together to create a platform for entrepreneurs, startups, and to bring more diversity into the tech arena. These are new and exciting times for us!
RISE in Hong Kong will be a challenge, it's our first time exhibiting and from what I experienced in Dublin, I know that at least we will take away some learnings, create strong connections and continue to build our community. I was Inspired by the Web Summit in Dublin, ideas are global, and the rise of startups in Asia is most definitely in the air.