If you’ve been anywhere near my Twitter account over the past week, you’ll know that I made a very last minute trip to Lisbon for this year’s Web Summit.

For those of you who don’t know what it’s about (which was myself about two weeks ago), Web Summit is an annual conference that sees 70,000 people descend on the city of Lisbon for, what is affectionately known as, the ‘glastonbury for geeks’.

Now, this event is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. With more than 25 stages and 100s of talks, it’s impossible to perfectly plan your schedule. That doesn’t even factor in the exhibition areas which dominate the space or the random people you’ll chat to whilst queuing for coffee. To put it simply, when I arrived on the first day, I was a deer in headlights.

Rather than give a full play-by-play, here are some of my highlights from across the 4 days.

IKEA aims to be climate positive by 2030 – In my first talk of the trip, IKEA’s Chief Digital Officer, Barbara Coppola, announced their commitment to being climate positive by 2030 (i.e. they’ll remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they put out). Sustainability, and the influence that tech has in both creating problems and building solutions that impact the climate, was a key theme across the entire conference.

More than 80 trillion messages are sent every year – Founder of GIPHY, Alex Chung, hit us with this mind-blowing stat during his talk on the business of GIFs.

13% of founders are female, but they only own 7% of founder equity – The challenges and opportunities around diversity and inclusion were a big talking point of the conference with the founder of DiversityVC, Check Warner, highlighting the ongoing gender gap when it comes to equity splits within founding teams. This point was based on research carried out by Carta – You can read an article on the report here.

Jessica Ennis finds her purpose – Anyone who knows me knows that I find nothing more emotional than when people come together to work towards a common goal: hence my love for the Olympics. As such, when I found out that Jessica Ennis would be giving a talk, I made sure I could be there. Nostalgia and Super Saturday feels aside, she also highlighted the importance of purpose in starting a business, as she shared her experience of launching Jennis, the pregnancy & post-natal fitness app.

Culture is key – Melanie Perkins, unicorns and the importance of culture: fangirl moment 2.0.

The number of IPOs is going down – Founders are choosing to keep their companies private for longer as funding from private investors, for the highest-growth companies, remains readily available. The problem? The gains from such investments remain largely in the hands of already wealthy individuals, causing inequality to intensify. The Atlantic does a great report on the topic here.

‘Show, don’t tell’ – Important closing words from Chris Slowe, CTO at Reddit.

That pretty much sums up my Web Summit experience!

A big shoutout to Booking.com who sponsored the Women In Tech lounge, a source of refuge for me during the day when I needed to take a breather. Their daily 4pm networking drinks were a great way to meet new people and round out the day.

And a final shoutout to Yena Member’s Inga Driksne, for helping me get to Web Summit in the first place, and Ryan Pasco & James Taylor of Make My Blinds, for keeping me company on Day 1! Hopefully you all got as much out of it as I did 💜

– Abby x