New ideas, new startups, new people. Less business, more networking.
Going to 4YFN (Four Years From Now) is kind of like going to the biggest water cooler in Barcelona — you always run into someone you know.
Outside of the many inspiring talks offered by the conference, the opportunity to network and get input from some of the heavier hitters in the startup scene really is one of the best aspects of the conference.
It’s easy to see why. With over 500 startups in attendance this year, and with the conference running in parallel with the MWC, 4YFN serves as a meeting point for anyone relevant to the startup ecosystem. Entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators… everyone is accounted for!
4YFN is a great atmosphere for meeting those people who sit at the edge of our industry too. Providing us with an infinite number of services that help our startups run — lawyers, couriers and banks, are just a few examples. These relationships are important ones to cultivate, and having the time to do so in person goes a long way.
But much like any good water cooler catch-up session, at 4YFN there’s often a lot of talk about making more concrete plans to talk in more detail, later. So expect to make a lot of first impressions at the conference but bank getting down to any real business afterwards.
One fairly apparent drawback to this year’s edition would have to be the many empty stands — there were a large number of them left free after being given away by accelerators, corporations and government institutions.
While people were requesting the openings, many startups just didn’t know what to do with their stand when they got one, either half assedly throwing something together or jumping ship altogether.
4YFN can be tricky in that respect. Since the conference is wide reaching, topics aren’t necessarily delved into in microscopic detail, it’s useful to have clear goals going in or else risk losing out on opportunities and time.
A special nod to Natural Machine’s 3D printer, Foodini, is also in order, after they completely floored us all with a demonstration that involved printing potato letters, a hamburger, and even ravioli.
With that in mind, here’s your 4YFN recap:
4YFN chairman and VC Yossi Vardi opened the conference with Aleix Valls, head of the MWC, which started a conversation about mobile technologies that would go on to echo throughout the conference’s various talks and panels.
On everyone’s minds, the many ways in which mobile impacts the way we all do business — with productivity claiming the top spot as most elusive variable.
Between the 10+ workshops on day one alone, thoughts, opinions, and insights were served up from the likes of AirBnb, Indiegogo and Facebook, just to name a few.
The day’s winning pitch was won by London startup Thingthing, whose app allows users to access all their apps via their mobile keyboard.
IoT claimed center stage on day two of the conference, with German startup Slock.it taking home the biggest win of the conference.
Their app combines the benefits of the Blockchain with real-world objects, allowing users to rent, sell and share pretty much anything the can think of without having to rely on a middleman.
Day two’s notable conversations include talks about what makes a city a startup hub and panel discussions on alternative financing mechanisms (of which there are an exciting and increasing number.)
But it was the conversation about the scope of IoT that got everyone talking. Contrary to what the general public and media might lead us to believe with their intense focus on wearables and the smart home, it appears that everyone’s in general agreement about how vast and untapped the scope of IoT actually is.
The final day of the conference was all about new media, with the most interesting discussions happening around advertising, ad-blocking and how to manage either.
Of course, what edition of 4YFN would be complete without a look at the Spanish startup ecosystem? 500 million euros raised in 2015, but who’s counting? (Special nod to Wallapop and Letgo for bearing the brunt of that load.)
Finally, the day’s best pitch award was given to British/Isreali startup Pixoneye, a personalized marketing service promising unparalleled predictive accuracy and actionable clustering.
And that’s a wrap for the 2016 edition!