l combined the 4 day journey into one blogpost, mainly because i forgot most detail of the journey, but luckily i got plenty of pictures so i can just stuff them into the post :D. This post tells my experience attending the biggest startup conference in the world: WebSummit (its so big that i don’t have time to explore them all), and my several visits to Dublin top sightseeing places which includes Kilmainham Gaol, Christcurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar and Henry Street. Actually its a very nice city with very little Asian population which makes me genuinely feels that i was in…. overseas ;D
(will update photos later on!)
Day 1, 2 November 2015 : Abu Dhabi Airport, Arrive in Dublin!
My Etihad flight (EY471) departed at 00:15 am from Soekarno Hatta international Airport Jakarta (CGK) and I survived the 8 hours fly! thanks to empty seats on my side. i got to sleep flat in 4 seats of economy class! well its not technically flat since there are a bit lump between the seats, making it feel uneasy on my backs, but all in all, i’m still very much grateful for my being able to lay down awkwardly flat
empty seats! i can sleep lying flat!
the plane transit at Abu Dhabi, home of Etihad, for 4 hours. I learned from my previous Abu Dhabi visit as the airport provide free hot shower between gate 36 and 37 on terminal 3. The shower is okay, hot water is great, but definitely not the cleanest shower box, but again who am i to complain for a free stuff? while the lounge airport will charge about $15 for shower. Then i spent the rest of my time checking out stores at the airport. nothing particularly interesting, even chocolate stores are boring and uninspiring.
Abu Dhabi Departure Gate
Our flight EY41 continued at 09:35am, heading to Dublin. this time the plane is full! which is okay because it was an afternoon trip, i stayed awake the whole time watching tv series i have loaded on my iPad, catching up The Walking Dead series.
Etihad lunch. pretty decent and tasty for economy food
Arrived at Dublin at 14:15pm! weather was about 14 degree celcius with no wind. As i walked toward the passport control, i saw ‘WebSummit Welcomes…’ sign.. EVERYWHERE. i saw that Ireland government is taking WebSummit event very seriously, as a major source of tourism income. well, according to the site, WebSummit expects 20,000 people attending the conference.
websummit signs all over the airport welcome attendees
passport control was a breeze, there seems to be special procedure for people entering because of WebSummit. And luggage is coming out of the belt really fast.
WebSummit even has registration booth at the airport, where we got our badge and wristband. Its very convenient this way and i think WebSummit handle things professionally days before the event started.
to the registration area of websummit.. at the airport!
So one way (read: cheapest) to get to the city is by using Airport Coach, Airlink 747. It cost 10 euro return (or 6 euro single trip). I joined the long queue right outside the airport (on ground level), but apparently the bus only comes in 20 minutes interval, hence we had to wait for about 40 minutes before we got our bus.
While waiting, i purchased a chips from a vending machine nearby. Hunky Dorry, buffalo flavours. i never had tasted buffalo before, i always picture a buffalo is like a red-faced angry cow with long horn. But oh boy… this chip taste.. ohmazing! its a great contender to my favorite local Indonesian Chips, Chitato rasa Sapi Bakar. Its so tasty, savoury with a bit of spicy. Later i found out that Ireland doesn’t have much of Chips options, especially on vending machine. Hunky Dorry Buffalo flavour is all they have.
BEST chips ive ever tasted. even better than my all time favourite: Chitato Sapi Panggang!
So the bus came and brought us to the stop Users Quay, which is about 10 min walk (include crossing bridges) to our hotel: Maldron.
Maldron hotel is located only slightly out of city center at an area called smithfield. Read my reviews of the hotel at tripadvisor.
the airlink 747 bus, main bus shuttle to Dublin downton and surrounding
view from the 2nd deck of the bus
My Maldron Smithfields hotel room! it can fit 3 person although we only order a twin bed room
Maldron Smithfield Hotel front. there is a supermarket right beside it.
That night, we pursued the top ranked food in Dublin according to Dublin’s Yelp: WOWBurger (scored 4.8!). Its a long, cold but nice walk along the temple bar area before we reached 11 wellington quay. Its a bit difficult to locate the burger joint because there is no like obvious sign with big letter that says ‘WOWBurger Enter Here’. You just have to trust the google map. Apparently its inside a building of another restaurant.
I ordered the cheese burger with garlic fries and soda water, which all cost me around 12 euro. My collegaue order a mineral water instead and it cost him even more (lol). Lesson to learn, soda is cheaper in this country :). So along with the burger order, you get free choices of ALL TOPPING. No doubt, this is among the best burger i have ever eaten in my life.
WOW Burger Collecting Area. the booth on the right is for ordering
WOWBurger has nice food truck ambience. feels very local
My Cheeseburger! very tasty meat and cheese.
on the way back to the hotel, we stopped on interesting building, some are rather eerie due to lack of lighting, many of the building uses yellow bulbs lighting instead of neon white, maybe that helps preserve the feels of an old town. Among those building is the Temple Bar, iconic and touristy Dublin’s most popular pub with red-painted wall (and possibly the most lit building on the temple bar area). As we don’t drink, we didn’t get inside, but its easy to tell from its windows that its overly crowded.
The Infamous and iconic Dublin’s Temple Bar. very crowded.
An old and eerie looking building we passed on our walk back to the hotel
One of many bridges that cross River Liffey
Day 2, November 2nd: First day at WebSummit
The first day at websummit also marked our first got lost in Dublin. There was actually a printed instruction at hotel’s receptionist desk, but we still took the wrong train and forced to stop at wrong station, and ended up walking around 20 minute to reach the venue, RDS arena. Top top of everything, it was showering, lucky my outerwear is waterproof.
Outside Maldron Smithfield Hotel. last night was raining i guess.
Our closest LUA tram stop: Smithfield, is only about 3 min walk from Maldron hotel
the biker stayed on the line, didn’t even try to bypass the LUAS train in front!
Near Connolly Station, where i changed into DART train line (like commuter line)
Conolly Train Station Gate
Connolly Train Station
Connoly Train Station Platform
Connolly Station Platform
i own a train station at Dublin! haha.. Sandymount is where our DART train stops and we continue by foot to the WebSummit event (RDS Center)
So WebSummit is really huge that they run in two buildings which is around 500 meter apart. There is also another building for FoodSummit, located far away around 10-15 min walk from both of the main building. This is actually very tiring when i have to jump from one session to another session, and then get something to eat. At every entrance, there are usher that constantly shout ‘show your band’, asking you to raise your arm and showing the WebSummit wristband.Just like many other startup conferences, there are halls / room where speakers are having their session, and there are row of booths introducing their startup. WebSummit covers almost every topic of interest, categorized them and designate one stage for each of them, there is Centre Stage where the big speakers from Instagram, Tinder, Dell, Google, Evernote, Forbes, Techcrunch, and Paddy Cosgraves himself who gives WebSummit opening remark. And there are more stages: Code, Content, Data, Design, Enterprise, Fashion, HealthTech, Machine, Marketing, Money, Music, Night Society and Sport.And the row of booths… Oh man.. There are too many of them. I’m sure its difficult for these startup to get proper attention given there are too many things to observe, and with very little space between booths, its even difficult to walk in a crowded alley of booths.Being confused of the map and tried to running errand between sessions, i managed to see three sessions, UX vs product design, Machine Learning and Instagram. THe later was so interesting that Mike Krieger, revealed the evolution of Instagram ‘explore’ page algorithm, and how particularly machine learning helped them optimise their product.I also crawled around few of booths, saying hi to few of them, but whispering in my heart, being skeptical on whatever idea they have, arguing ‘will that even work?’ Most of the time. There can a be a row of 15 startups who does exactly the same thing, for example: a music and video portal. Those ideas makes me wonder, why would they ‘try’ to build something similar to YouTube and Spotify, only to end up spendIng money and resources to catchup with the big players, and they will not even get close? What were they thinking when brainstormed the idea at the first place?For lunch. We scored a free (cold) sandwich when we walked between the main arena to the village area.
i also had my first round of PITCH, where i presented about PicMix in 5minutes, open stages, 4 jurys. A bit nervous and i didn’t manage to convey the whole message to the audience, or give them the right impression. Some feedbacks from Jury ‘so what is it that you really do… In your own way?’. And ‘you have too many slides’, and ‘if you were asked to explain your app in one short sentence, what would that be’. Definitely lots to learn here.
Around 6pm, we regrouped with fellow Indonesian, Ditya and Raymond from Aitindo and took the shuttle bus back together.
We had lunch at Supermacs! A famous fastfood joint in Dublin that sells many things fried and pizzas. I ordered their ________________ and the chilli fries, taste okay, but the huge portion is killing…
later midnight, WebSummit sent me email that i’ve made it to 2nd round of pitch and is called for another pitch on 2nd day of WebSummit! surprised! we made it to the top 40 out of 200 contestants!
Day 3, November 4th: 2nd Day WebSummit, standing for our booth
Today is the day where i’ll stand (literally, because they don’t allow chair) to guard the booth from incoming visitors, or hopefully… Investors. I’ve rehearsed my quick line of intro ‘PicMix is..’. I do actually like standing for booth, introducing products to people. I like how they would perceive the apps after i explain it to them of what it does. The challenge is always how to get inside the visitor brain, understand what they want to hear, and impress them with shitload of cool things you have in hand.Anw, learning from yesterday mistakes, today we took the right train and stopped at the right station: sandymount station!.our booth is numbered ____, located quite near the venue entrance and one of the centre stage entrace. So we got nice flow of audiences coming in and out of centre stages. Sounds great? Not so. our booth Is just one tiny booth among hundreds other booth who looks exactly the same. Some other booth has different way to attract attention such as giving swags, brochures, wearing weird costume. The booth next to us, actually hired two sexy model (Tall with blonde curly long hair) to just stand there and talk with the audience.. And people actually buy that.. Wow.So that booth with sexy model is a startup who offers music and video platform (read: boring). On our right side, is a political election platform where candidate can manage their own page, explain their program, and gather supporters. Quite solid. Next to this political platform, is a social network pet. Definitely plausible idea. Apparently even the owner of the booth didn’t show passion to his own product as he barely seen guarding his booth.So during my stand, i counted no more than 25 visitors who came and ask ‘so what do you do’. only like 5 of them that was actually engaged in a lengthy more than 5 minute discussion. In conclusion, having booth at websummit is not really recommended. Unless.. You are already popular to start with.. I saw some big names such as trello. Or.. You have really interesting tagline, such as ‘the youngest startup ceo’, ‘the modular smartwatch’, ‘the stilletos that can be turned flat’. Things like ‘social photo editor’, ‘ecommerce for..’, ‘a platform that..’. Does not really sell.
i left my booth around 14:00 (put a we’ll be back sign on our booth), to go to Pitch Stage 3, where i’ll have my second round pitch. There were more audience this time, all seats were occupied and even people were standing in the back and giving more whole applauses everytime a pitch end. The mechanism was the same with the 1st pitch, present your startup for 3-5 minutes and the jury will throw question.
This time i think i nailed it! all words come out, very quickly, i got a boost of confidence of ‘nothing to lose’. The jury was amazed that PicMix got 26 million registered user without spending anything on marketing. Overall, it was all better than the 1st Pitch. However, we didn’t make it to final round, only 6 startup does, and compare to PicMix, those 6 startup are super disruptive:
- Connecterra: its a device that provide health status of dairy cattle. imagine Fitbit for cows (their result study case is amazing)
- Bugwolf: User Testing tools. very common actually
those 6 startup will be presenting at centre stage at last day of WebSummit tomorrow
Before walking out of the WebSummit, i attended Tinder session, presented by Sean Rad, their co-founder. In a question-answer format, it was pretty boring. Sean revealed some insights, that.. i knew most of it already. Such as, over 80% on tinder are there to find long relationships, while the other 20% are just for hooking up. And some background stories about him, his role and tinder. I was expecting Tinder transformation, a peek to their matching algorithm, their roadmap and etc.
Day 4, November 5th: Last Day WebSummit
this is more of laid back days, it was showering in the morning. We stopped by cool houses and hotels on our walking route to the RDS arena.
At WebSummit, we had two appointment, one of them is with potential investor at Investor exclusive floor, and the other one is with Telesign, discussing SMS verification solution for PicMix. On the stage session, we attended PITCH final at centre stage, Bizimply won! their presentation is soo perfectly timed, calm, straight to the point like they have been perfecting this pitch over and over again. and their presentation template is definitely good to copy from. good product regardless. watch their final pitch video below.
as there were no stage session of our interest anymore, we quitted the event earlier at around 2 pm, took the shuttle bus and walked to O’conelly St, Mary St and Jarvis St. The walks was very enjoyable, there were street musicians and magicians making crowds. We visited stores like disney, toy stores, nespresso, and another Nando’s Dinner.
Day 5, November 6th: Free Day!
We woke up (not) so early, had breakfast of discounted bread bought yesterday at the supermarket next to hotel, and took the tram to Suir Road Station, where we began our 6km, in 7 hours walking journey to Kilmainham Gaol, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Guinness Storehouse, Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Mary Street shopping area.
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison with plenty history of Irish Rebellion. many of those Rebellion leaders were imprisoned and executed there. The jail is generally has 3 parts, East Wing, West Wing, and Victorian Wing. the latter is the most famous one which you’ll often see in Ireland Postcards. Entrance fee is very cheap at €4 for guided tour. We were the first in that morning tour that starts at 10 AM.
Close by the Jail, there is Irish Museum of Modern art about 700 meter away. Then we continued walking east to Guinness Storehouse, Christchurch Cathedral and Dublin Castle. Sorry if this blog post isnt informative enough about places i visited! i agree i’ve been admiring the place for its architecture and design without knowing what that is actually or history behind it. Should have done more research. :p
here is a story, somewhere close to John Lane’s church, we bought like 6 of ridiculously cheap snickers and mars bars from a street vendor, it was like only like €2 for 6 item. I realised later that all of them has been expired for at least a month ago! My boss threw away all of them, i ate 2 and i survived, but i decided to threw the rest 4. Lesson learned, beware of something priced to good to be true, life is always fair.
There weren’t many souvenir shops at Dublin, Carroll Irish Gift shop is the largest chain and that’s where i spent some €€€ for magnet, postcards, whiskey-flavoured caramel and chocolate. I might say that they were all a bit overpriced and of course… made in china.
Continuing the journey, we walked along Mary street for last shopping chance. I guess i really like that even in the Dublin busiest part of the city, such as Mary Street, it will never get too crowded, you won’t bump with anyone while strolling slowly, enjoying the walk as sun set down. My boss was looking for toys, while waiting, i checked out Penneys (sure it sounds wrong on Indonesian Language! haha). Apparently, what looked like upscale shopping centre from outside, is actually selling ridiculously dirt cheap but stylish clothing. At once of the door entrance, they even pile up shirts for ONE friggin euro. Nothing cost more than €100. Thick winter jacket cost ranged between €30-50. My friend said that Penney’s is chain of Primark, one of biggest clothing retailer in Europe (think of Uniqlo from Japan). their strategy is to sell stylish clothing at very cheap price, but probably has quality drawback, making people coming back every three months when they introduce new styles of apparels. smart.
So that’s the last day in Dublin! its a been a blast! enjoying a part of the earth where i could barely see Asian folks haha…