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by Douglas Jau
Photos: South Summit Facebook, with due permission
It was great excitement the Spain Startup & Investor Summit 2015 generated when it was held on the second week of October. Venue: Plaza del Toros de Las Ventas, Madrid.
No less than 10,000 eager attendees flocked to this bullring regarded as the home of bullfighting not only in Spain but in the world, in order that Spanish startup companies (there were startups from other countries but the great majority was Spanish) could show off their wares, thoughts and ideas to 450 investors from Southern Europe and Latin America (3M New Ventures; Accel Partners, a venture and growth equity firm that manages +$8.8 billion; Index Ventures which focuses on IT and life sciences companies; etc.).
It was South Summit’s fourth edition actually. The fact that no less than the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, inaugurated the event indicated just how important to Spain it was. But then the star speaker of the first day was by no means less a luminary either: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.
The captive crowd was huge, spilling all the way out the tent and onto the foyer, and hung to every word he said. Giant TV screens were set in strategic places so that those who were not close enough to see the big man (literally and figuratively) face to face could watch him on the screens giving inspirational talk.
Five different platforms were set up for South Summit: the Arena Stage, Innovation Stage, The Next Big Thing, Investor’s Den and The Startup School. The Arena Stage was the most interesting. It was a mammoth tent pitched in the middle of the bullring. There was a metaphor here. The competition among the start-ups, vying against each other for recognition from the investors, was so stiff it was almost nothing short of killing the bull, so to speak. The atmosphere was actually reminiscent of 1930’s when bullfighting was all the rage.
In the midst of serious business beer flowed freely, and there was definitely no shortage of soft drinks and snacks. Since many of the participants were foreign to Madrid, the organizers saw to it that these attendees partook of the cocina madrieña (Madrid cuisine). Local bands provided entertainment during the break in the hectic Summit.
As in the beginning, when it came time to ring down the curtain no less than His Majesty King Felipe VI did the honor.
In total, about €200 millions’ worth of investment was transacted by the participants – entrepreneurs and investors.
The general impression is that everyone came away from the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas contented.
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