There were lots and lots of start-ups at WebSummit, but most of what I saw has already been seen before. There was little truly original work. Some have a genuinely different approach, though. Aeracars, for example, has the idea to transform all cars that we have today in the world to electric cars without changing the engine. It’s a crazy idea, and it may never happen, but it is very interesting. aeracars.tech
Just a few years ago design meant merely an aesthetic approach. When you had developed the idea and made a product, as the last thing you would add design for the look and the feel. This year at WebSummit I saw a lot of startups that have incorporated design to their project from the very beginning. It’s really important because it means that design is used in a more strategic way. You can also see it in how ideas are pitched and expressed. With design in the core of the startup, you also get a much clearer vision of what the goals and needs of your users are, and you are able to tell a stronger story than others.
Internet of Things seems underrated this year. None of the projects that I saw at WebSummit had real innovation. Ideas are several years old: connecting cars, connecting lights and home appliances. The sector lacks real innovation. I think it’s a great opportunity for designers to sort out the real needs and the real advantages that technology provides. Unlike some of the more mature industries, there are interesting opportunities and a lack of expression. But please, no more connected fridges!
I love Lisbon! It’s such an interesting city, and in the evenings WebSummit organized a Night Summit in the old town, barrio alto. It was really interesting to continue the discussions on projects and ideas with the people that you had met during the day over a glass of porto. It created such a nice contrast and atmosphere.