February 22, 2016 by Paddy Cosgrave

The wait is over. SURGE is finally here. It’s our first conference in India. We’re incredibly excited to be here all the way from Dublin, Ireland. But to be honest we’re little nervous too and here’s why…

We initially set an ambitious goal of hosting a 1,000 person conference in our first year in India. That would make the first SURGE roughly 2.5 times the size of the first Web Summit in 2010, which was just 400 people.

But the first SURGE is neither 400 attendees, nor 1,000 attendees. It’s 5,103 attendees from 72 countries. More than 1,000 people registered last week alone, before we shut down ticket sales. To say it’s unexpected is an understatement. Something’s clearly happening in India. And that something is not just big. It’s huge.

It took Web Summit five years to grow from 400 attendees to more than 42,000 attendees from 130 countries around the world. Will it take SURGE that long? I’m beginning to wonder, and I’m sure others are too.

When we announced on Thursday of last week that we had sold out, that the venue simply couldn’t fit anymore attendees, it unleashed a sudden tidal wave of requests. Suddenly leading investors, journalists, CEOs, startups and more who, perhaps were sitting on the fence for the first year of SURGE realised they were in danger of missing something far bigger than anyone expected, even us.

So the first SURGE has resonated in a major way. But will it be as good as Web Summit was in 2015? I want to be honest here, because it’s important. Web Summit has taken five years of feedback from attendees, constant tweaking, modifying, and improving to get it to where it is today. SURGE is in beta. It’s our first release. Will it be better than Web Summit in its first year, for sure. Will it be as good as Web Summit in its fifth year, absolutely not. So come with muted expectations, and then we hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

So what might surprise you? Based on survey data from tens of thousands of past attendees at our conferences we know that what matters most to you is networking. Speakers are important, but networking is key. You value your time at a conference based more on the connections you make, than anything else. For that reason, we’ve an entirely new version of our attendee app.

Our attendee app is your most powerful ally at SURGE. It can help you connect and chat with anyone, even speakers. Most importantly, using cutting edge data science, the SURGE attendee app automatically finds the most relevant people for you to connect with out of the 5,000 plus in the room. Not only that, it will also suggest the very talks best suited to your interests. So far people love it.

SURGE 2016 is just the start. By 2017 SURGE might not just be the most important technology and startup gathering in India, it might just be among the most important technology gatherings in the world.

Whatever happens, we’re incredibly excited to be in this beautiful country and look forward to welcoming you to SURGE this week.

About the Author

Paddy Cosgrave
Paddy is the founder of Web Summit, SURGE, Collision, RISE and MoneyConf.