Going to events and meeting people in person is the most effective way of building relationships That’s right! Offline networking still exists and we consider it be just as valuable as social media and blogging. After all relationships are built on trust – and in my opinion the role of social media is to help keep in touch and cultivate relationships further, and not serve as a replacement for offline interaction.

le web 2013

So this year we decided to go to where the action was and aimed to attend as many conferences, meetups and hackathons as we could. In the end we visited 21 countries and attended around 200 events across Europe, which gave us a comprehensive overview of what was happening in each county. But it’s also a fantastic opportunity to reflect back and share our experience with you.

When we came up with the idea for an event guide, we had to decide which events to include. For obvious reasons talking about 200 events would’ve been too much of a hassle. So instead we went with the biggest  and most talked about startup events organised across Europe in 2013.

Below you’ll find our opinion on the events we went to. For all the details, simply scroll down to discover which events are for you in 2014.

European startup events

TNW_logoTNW Amsterdam

Attended by: Mark Henkel
Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: 24-25 April 2014

TNW is one of the leading online media covering start-up and entrepreneurship topics. The event is two sided: on the one hand, you have the booths for start-ups who represent themselves and make new customers and networks. On the other, you have an area with high-level speakers who know the start-up environment very well.

One of unique selling points of TNW Amsterdam is certainly  the coverage of the Dutch market. But there’s also enough space to meet up with investors and other business partners.

The best things about the event was the location (Amsterdam!) and also the speakers it attracted.

Young entrepreneurs who want to or need to sneak into the international start-up world will this event extremely useful. You get a piece of everything there and as a first contact point it’s really good.


European Pirate Summit

Attended by: Johannes Humpert
Where: Cologne, Germany
When: September TBA

What deutsche startups calls “The event of the year” usually takes place in Cologne and gathers around 500 selected and paying participants (between EUR 120,- and EUR 700,-), who are mostly founders, VCs and business angels. The “pirate atmosphere” is created by taking place on a quirky wrecking yard, where the organizers invite you to a two-day gathering of the “disruptive start-up scene”, which gets manifested in the “pirate” theme of the event in design, dress-code (eyepatch), speeches (starting with “Arrrr”) and activities (participants can learn how to “hijack a ship” by roping down from a scaffolding). Founders are invited to pitch their ideas in front of investors, and vice versa.

The European Pirate Summit is a platform to pitch your idea. Meet well-selected founders, VCs and business angels to find investors for your startup (or talented entrepreneurs that look for investments), extend your professional network and learn how to become a better entrepreneur in a unique, inspiring, motivating atmosphere with a guaranteed fun-factor. This is the event with the perhaps strongest CI in Europe (a typical Tweet from the event reads like this:”@PirateSummit was fucking Aaarrrrresome! #EPS11 thanks you guys for making this happen”).

The event has a high networking factor and provides speeches of experts on topics that are relevant for most founders (i.e. Startup Marketing, Startup Metrics, Opportunities for Startups, Founder Leaks Q&A etc.). After the speeches, you have a chance to participate in an open discussion and meet the speaker in person.

The European Pirate Summit is great place for founders who look for investors and new business contacts.

TechCrunch Disrupt

techcrunch disrupt europe 2013Attended by: Kostas Papageorgiou
Where: Berlin, Germany
When: October TBA

Disrupt is TechCrunch’s flagship event, usually taking place in New York and San Francisco. However in 2013 saw the event come to Europe, which took place in Berlin.

Disurpt Berlin kicked off with a hackathon, where 91 teams took part and built hacks ranging from mood maps to putting up a payment wall for incoming emails. The hackathon was then followed by two days of exhibitions (Startup Alley), pitching (Startup Battlefield) and interesting talks on the main stage.


It had a lineup of speakers which included Aaron Levie (Founder of Box), Michael Arrington (Founder of TechCrunch) and Pavel Durov (Founder of VKontakte) who spoke about venture capital, startup life and privacy – topics everybody would find interesting.

The Startup Alley also gave a chance for young and upcoming startups to shine. Some were even interviewed by TC staff and featured on the big screens in the main hall! Whereas the Startup Battlefield let 20 startups pitch in front of the whole crowd and receive invaluable feedback from the judges.

Overall Disrupt Berlin organized a good all-rounder for its first European edition. The event is good for folks who want to get a good sense of the Berlin startup scene and learn a thing or two from the speakers

blog_dublin_web_summit_logoDublin Web Summit

Attended by: Saul Cullen
Where: Dublin, Ireland
When: October TBA

Dublin Web Summit is an annual event that gathers people together to discuss the latest trends in technology and startups. Started in 2010, the event has grown quite a bit from 500 attendees to attracting approximately 10 000 attendees last year.

The density of high quality tech startups and visitors interested in startups was impressive. Speaker quality was also particularly good and the event attracted people like Elon Musk (Space X & Tesla), Phil Libin (Evernote), Drew Houston (Dropbox) and even Tony Hawk to share their stories.

There were different stages setup, with one main stage and a few others focused on specific topics such as the Start Stage, Developer Stage and the Pitch Stage. Overall there was something for everyone and the audience at Dublin Web Summit makes it a great event for startups and developers.


Pioneers Festival

Attended by: Gunther Greven
Where: Vienna, Austria
When: 29-30 October 2014

Pioneers Festival brings together Europe’s tech and entrepreneurship community to Vienna – a city that claims to be one of the major links between Western and Eastern Europe. 2500 participants gather every year to celebrate promising start-ups and technologies that may have the potential to change people’s everyday lives.

When talking about USPs, it’s tough to not mention the Hofburg. Pioneers’ signature venue creates an irresistible contrast between the world of 21st century tech and commerce and the pomp of Austria’s 19th century empire. Besides that, Pioneer’s offers a highly competitive Startup Challenge that gives an insight into some of the most promising ventures.

pioneers festival 2013

Diversity and professional organization were two of the best things at the event. The festival masters the stretch between a strong technology focus and pragmatic business sense. It brings together promising future entrepreneurs, start-ups, as well as the old world economy – many of them from the aspiring markets of Central and Eastern Europe. The atmosphere is relaxed and open. Communicative people may not see one keynote as they are constantly caught up in casual chats or even serious business discussions. All this adds up to a complete, incredibly well organized (and obviously well funded) package. And did we mention the venue?

Who is it best for? Start-ups searching for business contacts in Central and Eastern Europe as well as everyone interested in inspiring discussions and curious about the next technological developments.

NOAH conferenceNOAH Conference

Attended by: Mark Henkel
Where: London, England
When: November TBA

NOAH is a high class event around start-ups and their financiers. It covers the relationship between venture capital and venture. So its different from events where start-ups look for customers and try to get attention.

The who-is-who in money is attending the event. All stages are present: incubators, seed money, but also late stage like eqt-money or fidelity growth partners.

The best things about NOAH are getting connections to later stage investors and an extensive exchange of ideas with start-ups in similar phases of business.

The event is best suited for fundraisers of start-ups in every phase on the one hand side, and people with money (I saw Jens Lehmann there) who want to invest their money in upcoming start-ups and businesses.



Attended by: Kostas Papageorgiou
Where: Helsinki, Finland
When: November TBA

SLUSH is arguably the largest gathering of startups and investors in Northern Europe, but also now ranks as one of the top events in all of Europe. This year it attracted over 5000 participants, 1000 startups, 500 investors and 300 members of the press – making it a must-attend event for people in the region and for those interested in the northern startup scene.

The first thing you’ll notice when you first attend SLUSH is that everyone from the Northern European startup scene, including the Baltics and Russia is there. You’ll also find out, that it’s an event that caters to not only startups, but also to students and investors. They even had a specific meeting area where startups could speak with investors to get valuable feedback or possibly attract some funding.

The best thing about SLUSH is just how approachable everyone is, which makes networking a breeze – one moment you could find yourself speaking with an investor and the next chatting with a founder who had a multimillion dollar exit. Another thing worth pointing out is that you will learn a whole lot about the business landscape in the region – all you need to do is ask people!

If you’re a startup who’s looking to expand into northern Europe, then this is the place to be. SLUSH has been a launching pad for a few startups already, and been an excellent venue to demo and launch products. Since 5000 people are attending, this is also the perfect opportunity for some market research and networking, you’ll probably find more value in striking up conversation with others than attending the talks.

howtowebHow To Web

Attended by: Kostas Papageorgiou
Where: Bucharest, Romania
When: November TBA

For Eastern Europe, How To Web has grown to become one of the must go-to events for startups and entrepreneurs. The event is organized once a year in Bucharest, Romania and it’s main goal is to help and support Eastern European startups who have a global focus.

While How To Web focuses on Eastern Europe, it manages to attract international speakers and mentors to Bucharest. The Startup Spotlight competition being organized in tandem to the main conference, where 32 finalists got to pitch during the event, and gave first-time visitors a glimpse into the kind of startups coming from Eastern Europe.

But organizing competitions during events where startups compete for prize money is not anything new and the key difference here was just how much mentoring the finalists of the competition received. Usually startups pitch on stage, answer questions and receive feedback from the judges. At How To Web the finalists got to chat in-depth about their ventures to the speakers and mentors. Which showed how much emphasis the organizers placed on achieving their aim of helping startups from the region go global


The organization was one of the best I’ve seen for a startup conference. The organizers were great hosts and very helpful with everything – including calling a cab from a reputable taxi company. As this was my first time in Romania, everybody was extremely open in discussing what the scene was like and what the current state of it was. How To Web  was also a relaxing event to attend, it wasn’t too big nor not too small, it was just the right size for networking and listening to keynotes.

If you’re a startup from Eastern Europe then How To Web is a must! With the speakers and mentors on hand and the experience they to share –  you can definitely learn a whole lot from them. Entering the Startup Spotlight competition is worth applying to since you’ll get to pitch at the event and get practical advice with brutally honest feedback during the mentoring sessions.

Otherwise, attending How To Web is great for those who want to get a general idea of what’s happening in Eastern Europe and get to know the players in the region.

lewebparisLe Web Paris

Attended by: Corentin Guillemard
Where: Paris, France
When: December TBA

LeWeb is one of the most talked-about international conferences for startupers and web entrepreneurs.  It gathers during 3 days in Paris the most inspiring leaders who share their experience and vision for the future.

The event attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world: France, United Kingdom, USA, Chile, Japan, Australia,  Germany, etc. and creates a remarkable mix of cultures and practices to share.

paymill europe events startups

The fantastic journeys of the entrepreneurs attending Le Web enable them to give incredibly inspiring talks. If you’re not able to attend it, it is much recommended to watch those talks on Le Web’s website. It will strengthen your entrepreneurial knowledge as well as give you a clear vision for the future tech trends. Which makes this event ideal for the  CEOs and CTOs.

So there you have, a sweet overview of the biggest startup conferences to be organised in Europe. But don’t worry we’ll up and around again in 2014. To make sure you know where you can find us next, follow us on Twitter @PAYMILL!

Kostas Papageorgiou

Kostas specialises in content marketing and community management, who's focused on helping tech companies increase brand awareness and engagement to boost conversions.