Started in 2009, Web Summit has become one of the largest technology conferences in Europe, attracting more than 50,000 attendees last year. It has a program called Alpha that allows selected early-stage startups to exhibit at the conference, access workshops, meet with mentors and request investor meetings. The top 200 startups also get a chance to take part in their startup competition called PITCH.
Cairo-based Vanilla Social Media is the first Egyptian startup selected to exhibit at Web Summit’s Alpha this year, their founder Ahmed Ezzat Fahmy told us. It’s a digital marketing agency with offices in Egypt, US & Saudi. Ahmed comes with the experience of 12 years in Project Management, Marketing, and Management Consultancy across different industries.
Vanilla Social Media that offers digital marketing solutions to SMEs & startups, aims to use the opportunity to network with professionals and startups from all over the world and to pitch some of its products to investors. They will also be looking for potential partnerships at the conference.
Web Summit claims to have accepted only 6,200 applicants from 490,000 over the last four years which means 1.3% of acceptance rate. But they’ve had their share of criticism as well.
Vanilla Social Media is not the only one. Many other startups from the region also take part in different international conferences. Apart from Web Summit, Startup Istanbul is one of the most popular international tech conferences among entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts from MENA. Web Summit, however, is larger in every aspect as it hosts hundreds of startups and receives over 50,000 attendees whereas Startup Istanbul’s attendance is around 4,000 according to their website.
With events like ArabNet, Step Conference & RiseUp Summit stepping up their game in the last few years, MENA-based startups have great options to showcase their products and services at home too.
It’s always good to attend conferences and events all around the world to keep up with the latest trends but early stage startups should be very careful with what they should spend their limited resources on.