How was RISE 2016?

I was told that Hong Kong never sleeps. Jet leg, information and experience overload, and my natural desire to see and try everything took a toll on me. Few days at home and I sleep like 10 hours a day. Crazy! Well, that’s basically reason why my blog post about RISE 2016 comes one week after the end of the conference. In this blogpost I’d love to share my favorite moments from RISE 2016, some great talks and also some of my thoughts. Was it actually worthy to go there?

For us definitely. We were incredibly lucky to get last few tickets that were distributed for free among 10 000 women across the globe. Thanks Web Summit! The first question after a short mutual pitch with other startupers was usually “So why did you come here?” or better said “What is your main goal at this conference?” Good question, right? And our answer was in the most cases “We came here with an open mind.” What was entirely true. We met incredible and talented people, got clearer idea where the world is heading and what are the current trends in tech and startups, found out that investors are also just people and that maybe raising money is actually not that super difficult at all. The real hard work starts afterwards.

Some sci-fi movies are one step closer to the reality

RISE was a lot about AI and every speaker had different opinion about the safety and the relationship between humans and machines. It sounds a bit scary but Melonee Wise from Fetch Robotics calmed us down. “I can’t imagine why you would give any system physical access to something that could kill large amounts of people.” Well, I think I can imagine that.

Nell Watson, from Faculty of AI & Robotics at Singularity University, on the side told us that machines can be also sentient beings and we should ethically integrate them into society. I was researching her later a bit more and, from what I found, she believes that robots can one day murder the entire humankind as an act of kindness. Lovely.

I fell in love with wearables

Sonny Vu was, at least for me, no.1 speaker at the conference. He co-founded Misfit and now he is president & CTO of Connected Devices at Fossil Group. I saw a few of his presentations. I loved them all. Of course I left home with a wearable. Not Misfit though, while in HK I visited the store of my other favorite brand, Xiaomi. Maybe I’ll switch to Misfit later?

What are investors really looking for

Hans Tung and Jenny Lee from GGV Capital spoke on how to fund the idea and keep it funded until it becomes a thriving business. And they also told us how Xiaomi and Alibaba were pitching their idea in their very early days. Did you know that Xiaomi got funded with no product at all?

Almost every major tech company is part of DST portfolio, including already mentioned Xiaomi and Alibaba. John Lindfors talks about late tech investment landscape. Unfortunately I didn’t find online video with GGV Capital but you can still watch the interview with Lindfors.

How not to get screwed in venture financing

Probably the most useful talk during the entire conference. If you’re a startup looking for funding from VCs, this was a must-see talk. Great speech by Matt Barrie, the founder of

How not to get screwed in venture financing

Matt Barrie from

Too bad I can’t find the video uploaded on RISE Facebook or Youtube channels. I’ll try to sum up here the most important rules:

  • CEO has one job – not to run out of money
  • Board has one job – hire and fire CEO
  • Do not raise money from VC; if you have to, read every single line of the term sheet
  • Ideal number of board members is 3 or 5

We all learnt, that you can spend years of building your company and when you sell it or get in on an IPO, you might get little to no money at all. You can watch another interview with Matt on employment in increasingly automated world.

Torrents can actually help artists

This one was probably the most surprising for me. We all love torrents. Well, except artists and production houses. But we can also look at it from a different perspective, torrents could be great distribution channels, where artists promote their work.

Startups from the entire world

I’ve spent some time walking around startups exhibiting on the event. Fascinated to see people from all around the globe pitching their ideas. Full of optimism solving problems. Some of them had really great solutions. To my great disappointment I didn’t see much of social enterprises. There was at least one very good speech by Matt Dalio, CEO of Endless. Giving people with little to no internet connection access to information and knowledge.

What could be better

I really loved the RISE app until it turned out to be slightly unstable and just removed all my messages. Then I was told to uninstall it and reinstall it again. Guess what happened? I got all my messages back for like 10 minutes, afterwards all gone. If I didn’t reply to you, sorry.

Here you can find more talks on topics such as machines, marketing, funding, startups.. I featured here just a few of them.

So how was RISE? For me definitely inspirational, I met some very interesting people and got a lot of ideas myself. So, do I recommend it? Of course, I do!

Barbora Szenia Rise 2016

The last selfie from RISE 2016. Time to go home 🙂

Big thanks for this experience goes to Anja from The Bounce Back Coach! She is an amazing leader and it’s truly pleasure to work with her. Spending a week with two coaches is pretty beneficial, I got hours of passive coaching 🙂 If you need resilience boost and help to overcome setbacks, get in touch with Anja and Szenia.


About My Work

I have over 7 years of experience in marketing. In the past years, I’ve had a chance to work with startups, solopreneurs, media, and e-commerce clients. Let’s have a call, I’ll be happy to look at your specific case.

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