The Small Business Column: Is the Web Summit too expensive for SMEs?

As we move into Web Summit week, Kehlan Kirwan talks about what to look out for at the Dublin event and asks whether it is already too expensive for start-up tech firms to attend.
The Small Business Column: Is the Web Summit too expensive for SMEs?

This week will mark my first trip to the Web Summit, but it will be the last one hosted by Dublin before the event’s much-publicised exit for Lisbon.

I am excited for a lot of reasons.

I’ve heard so much about it over the past few years that I suspect it may be a case of getting there only to find it wasn’t what I imagined.

I hope not.

For the first time in a long time, I’m giddy with excitement about going to an event.

It’s not because of the famous faces or the celebrities, but because it’s a rare chance to meet some of the best companies and start-ups from around the world.

It is a chance to talk with people who have created some of the most innovative companies across the globe and to find out how they did it.

More than 30,000 people will make their way to the event over the three days.

It will be a chance for people to make new connections and reacquaint themselves with old ones.

For the rare few it will be a chance at investment, or the opportunity to clinch a deal.

Many of the 2,000 companies making the trip to the event will be hoping for one big deal or one big chance.

It does then raise an interesting question.

I will be talking with businesses to ask them a very simple question: Is the cost of attending the summit worth it?

Every year, the Web Summit raises a lot of chatter.

The celebrities are there and so are the millionaires and investors.

But what has become increasingly obvious over the past few years is that the summit asks for a lot of money.

About a month ago, Neil Murray from wrote a fascinating but rather alarming piece about why he wasn’t attending the Web Summit this year or any other year.

He made some very valid points on the costs for start-ups attending the event, and revealed that start-ups were offered the chance to meet potential investors, at a cost of $10,000 (€9,080).

Now, I’m not sure how many established businesses have $10,000 lying around, let alone small start-up companies.

The Web Summit is without doubt a great platform for start-ups, but there are huge costs to be dealt with.

There are the costs of getting a stand, travelling, getting accommodation, and all the other costs that come with attending an event.

I am lucky.

I am a journalist, which means a free pass into the three-day event.

As a journalist I find I am rarely told that I need to pay for a pass.

The organisers of such events hope that nice things will be written and said about them.

So I will be searching for an answer to the question: Was it worth it to attend the Web Summit?

The event has become personal for me as well.

The future of many industries facing the challenges of rapidly changing technology has grabbed me more and more.

Many businesses will be fascinated too, to find out how they can meet those challenges.

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