Recently, I was talking with Aline Noizet about this year’s must-attend events and top of her list was 4YFN. 4YFN (4 Years From Now) is the innovation platform of MWC, enabling startups, investors, corporations and public institutions to discover, create and launch new ventures together.
So of course, we caught up with Pere Duran, 4YFN Event Series Director to get the inside scoop on next month’s conference.
BARCELONA, 25-27 FEBRUARY 2019
4YFN has been around for more than 4 years, What has changed since you started?
This is the 6th edition of 4YFN and this year will be our biggest and best show. Having started with just 2,300 delegates in 2014, we are now expecting to welcome more than 21,000 international attendees and more than 700 exhibitors this year! This is going to be the most international edition ever with attendees from 136 countries and startups from around the world, with a big representation of Asian and African startups.
This year we have also focused even more on the startups. We have built a lot of activities and one-to-one meetings around them. One-to-one meetings with corporates, investors, other startups, communities, and press help these companies commercialize their products, raise funds and shine. This process also helps the key attendees to easily discover the startups shaping the future.
Where do you see the event in 4YFN?
We are moving far beyond the flagship Barcelona event and establishing our presence in LA, Shanghai, and LATAM and we hope to add even more locations to the list. More than that, we are a year-round builder of the startup ecosystem and are branching out more into creativity and design.
What highlights can we expect this year?
As always, startups, startups, startups. We are a champion for innovators and they form the heart of everything that we do. This year we have also introduced the Corporate Innovation Area where major corporations can showcase their innovation programs and we now have a Talent Area where people can find new opportunities and employers can find new talent. For me, this year I am really excited about our speaker programme too. Magic Leap, Alibaba, Facebook, N26 – we are featuring the biggest startup successes around to challenge and excite our startup community.
What can you say about the Healthcare track?
The Digital Health Summit co-organized with ECH Alliance is such an important part of what we are offering. Technologies like robotics and blockchain steal a lot of attention, but nothing is more important than health. It’s amazing that even the most marginal improvements in public health have the most far-reaching consequences for society. It’s for that reason that we are extremely proud to support healthcare technology, through our health-minded startups and with the Digital Health Summit.
How does 4YFN support Women in Tech?
We host an entire programme dedicated just to Women4Tech. This is an initiative that spans both MWC and 4YFN and we are committed to driving greater inclusion and diversity in technology from all walks of life. Women are under-represented in the technology community and we want to change that, not just for the benefit of meeting quotas but for the benefits delivered by real diversity! Check out our Female Founders panel on 25 February for an insight into the women changing the world, or the Women4Tech programme on 26 Feb across the agenda.
What advice would you offer a startup pitching?
Passion, energy, relatability, and SCALABILITY. You have such a short amount of time to capture the attention of investors and corporates – you have to enrapture them with your passion and energy. People like to connect with other humans, so being relatable helps a lot – that means bringing a sense of honesty and realness. That might hook them in, to begin with, but what investors are really looking for is scalability. You might catch their attention with some charisma, but you will only hook them with a real opportunity for growth.
What can investors expect?
Investors can mainly expect to find seed and Series A fund stage business opportunities that are just starting to hit the open market. These are companies that are in their initial growth stages looking for that chance to take their business to the next level. There are more than 700 exhibitors this year which means there are at least 700 live investment opportunities and, with some luck, a few unicorns in the rough!
How important is an EU wide tech community?
We bring startups from all over the world to Barcelona, from every continent. But being a big tech event in Europe, of course, we attract a huge number of startups from across the region. For us, it is hugely important because it is the community in which we (mainly) exist. We host pitch battles across European cities to find the best startups and bring them to Barcelona. We benefit from the attendance of European initiatives like Next Generation Internet and more. The EU ecosystem is one of the most robust in the world and we are very lucky to call it home!
What other events are you attending in 2019?
That’s easy. We will be going to 4YFN Shanghai on 26-28 June and 4YFN LA on 22-24 October!
What’s the best thing about a conference in Barcelona?
There are a few things. Firstly, Barcelona is the greatest city in the world! (I’m from Barcelona.) But seriously, Barcelona is the kind of place people want to come to, so it makes it an easy decision for attendees or exhibitors who might have second thoughts. But secondly, we have an amazing ecosystem in Barcelona that is more and more international. We have so many great startups here like Wallapop, Travelperk, Socialpoint, and Redpoints to mention a few and many, many tech companies moving operations here too.