3 Observations from Startups at Web Summit

It’s been a few weeks since Web Summit, so I figured I’d take some time during my flight to Startup Weekend Cyprus, to report back on what we (Achilleas, Paul and myself) learned from our rapid quizzing of over 300 startups, and what resulting actions we have taken so as to be able to help even more entrepreneurs.


There is a massive divide between professional service vendors and the needs of startup founders.

I got some very useful insight that confirmed my initial hypothesis for setting up Desk&Co: Entrepreneurs are sick of of being told that companies want to help them, but instead want to open dialogue on how and when they can physically help them grow.

Resulting Action:

We pushed on with our negotiations behind the scene for our upcoming Marketplace, with renewed confidence that we were helping to fix a global problem, not just a local issue in our currently supported ecosystems.

Cheeky side note: If you’re an entrepreneur or work in a startup and want more access to companies that actually, excuse the language, give a shit about helping you grow, sign up for our upcoming Marketplace.


There is a startup-killing gap between initial launch momentum and growing out an actual business.

Listening to many of the talks, pitches and panels left me both inspired and motivated. It was also quite surreal to see Elon Musk being treated like a rockstar by fellow startupreneurs, but there was something the game-changer behind Tesla and Space X said that left me with a tear in my eye…

He said, and I paraphrase obviously, that where startups need help the most is getting them to escape velocity, from where they will be able to keep growing and hiring new people.

Why did that touch a nerve? It quantified the second hypothesis regarding Desk&Co’s inception: entrepreneurs need a way to lower the burn-rate to be able to extend their runway.

Resulting Action:

Whilst we continue to help startups who contact us directly, we are actively building bridges to help empower startup enablers, increasing the chances of reaching escape velocity before running out of capital.


The media barely visited the early-stage startups, in our biased opinions, this was a mistake.

The decision to attend Web Summit as part of ALPHA was an active decision, as it would allow us to spend at least 1 day surrounded by startups from across the world, in a variety of sectors and at various stages.

The wealth of knowledge, local insight and interesting projects discovered were only bested by the true passion exhibited by so many of the startups’ founders and small teams. Whilst I’m sure the media was more interested in seeing what the big boys (and girls) were working on, there was a missed opportunity to get a pulse on developing regions and

Resulting Action:

The launch of our experimental Covering X Campaigns in 2 of our empowered ecosystems, Cyprus and Manchester (as our reach in the UK is growing so rapidly, we have also since launched #CoveringUK to cover the entire region). As it’s developed it will create a medium for exposing and empowering the best of each ecosystem.


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