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A three-day meeting between entrepreneurs and major corporations. The new edition of South Summit held in Madrid brought together thousands of people in the former Boetticher elevator factory in the Villaverde district in Madrid.
On stage were experts such as Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype and founding member of Atomico, who declared that there was “more money than ever” in the European technology sector. While he spoke, hundreds of startups presented their products and ideas inside the La N@ve exhibition space and sought to raise money among the investors who approached their stands.
Cellphones in hand, the entrepreneurs' topics of conversation were big data and artificial intelligence. And data were also present on the main stage. The COO of BBVA, Carlos Torres Villa, said: “The bank wants to be a leader in customer satisfaction, so we're working on a new model of relationship with a simple frictionless solution using big data and artificial intelligence to deliver a personalized value proposal for each customer”.
Torres Villa also noted: “In a little over three years technology has driven an unprecedented shift in habits among customers, who are increasingly looking to relate to their bank through their mobile devices”.
The entrepreneur Isabel Hoffmann went one step further and claimed that the smartphone trend has changed the world. Hoffmann, CEO of Tellspec, has developed a scanner that allows consumers to see the components of food, and can collect hundreds of data that are then displayed on the user's smartphone.
The user comes first
The need to take special care of your users was one of the tips most commonly repeated by the speakers. The French entrepreneur Frédéric Mazzella, founder of BlaBla Car, said that one of the secrets to success is to gain the trust of your users, as this makes them feel invested in the brand as they see themselves as a partner in the company. Robin Chase also made the same point. This American entrepreneur –who was a pioneer of the car-oriented gig economy with her Zipcar platform– gave a talk in which she appealed to the environment to defend collaborative platforms, and highlighted that complicity between the consumer and the company is the key to the survival of startups.
“I'm a millennial and I wouldn't dream of buying a car”, said one French journalist in the press room. Curiously this was repeated almost word for word by the founder of Cabify, Juan De Antonio, in his talk on the main stage when he argued that part of the company's success was due to the millennials rejection of the idea of owning a car.
With or without owners, there is no doubt that cars featured largely in the event, and although all the experts foresaw a future with driverless cars, no one disclosed any precise business plans in that direction.
Another present at La N@ve was Allen Blue, co-founder of Linkedin, who produced such soundbites as: “In 2009 our competition was Twitter and Facebook –now it's startups”. And looking towards the future, Nolan Bushnell, founder and CEO of Atari, was encouraging when he said: “One of the major global companies in the next five years will be Spanish". He didn't say in which sector.