Editor's note: This is a guest post / photo essay by Dan Taylor, photographer, writer and founder of Heisenberg Media.
For the second year in a row, I had the privilege to attend the 4 Years From Now event in Barcelona, Spain. What originally started as a side-event that ran in conjunction with the Mobile World Congress, 4YFN has officially graduated to an attraction of its own. While I certainly understand the draw and practical application of the Mobile World Congress, in many ways it’s similar to the Dublin Web Summit: a massive industry-wide meeting that, if you haven’t done some serious pre-planning, becomes less than effective as there are simply far too many people in too many places at once.
As I noticed last year, MWC is a trade show, with all the major players displaying their latest and greatest, and not much room for startups to shine. This is one of the primary reasons behind the creation of 4YFN. Having visited 4YFN last year, I can confidently state that there was a decent presentation, but quite a few things missing. This year, however, there was obviously a bit more thought put into the layout and foot flow, as the entrance had changed, and instead of leading attendees directly into the theatres, they were directed past the Innovation Market, where exhibiting startups really had their chance to be front and center.
As with any decent startup related event, 4YFN hosted an inspirational and informative speaker lineup, including Rich Riley, CEO, Shazam, Salva Rubin, CEO indigogo, Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer, Bayer, and Tom Daly, Global Group Director Mobile, The Coca-Cola Company. tech.eu’s Robin Wauters was on stage speaking with Maelle Gavet, CEO, Ozon Holdings in the classic fireside chat format and Ludovic Le Moan, Co-Founder & CEO, Sigfox.
In addition to the improved traffic flow and increased visibility for exhibiting startups, I also found the programmed post conference drinks and food court area to provide ample networking opportunities, and witnessed several impromptu meetings and a many a business card changing hands.
Last year, the (then) Spanish Crown Prince (now King), inspected the event first hand, but chose not to attend this year. I guess he might have a few other things to attend to. Instead, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, stopped by and spent time with a number of exhibiting startups. The mayor also paused to hear an unscheduled 30 second elevator pitch from an ambitious entrepreneur who wasn't on the scheduled stops list, as well as pose for a few selfies with event attendees. For a man of his position and stature, I found this to be very, very cool, and if only a symbolic gesture, indicates Barcelona’s clear interest in supporting and fostering the startup ecosystem.
With three concurrently running stages, three workshop areas, an entire exhibitor area, as well as a new “startup meet investors” speed pitching area, not only was this a significant challenge to represent photographically, but a shining example of “there’s something for everyone.” If one stage or topic didn’t strike your fancy or provide value, at any given time, there were a host of other options and opportunities. Having said that, and again drawing comparisons to the Mobile World Congress, I certainly hope that 4YFN doesn’t grow any bigger than it currently is.
There was plenty, and there's beauty in being on the small side.
The photos above and following represent my personal selection of images I produced for 4 Years From Now. The entire series can be viewed on Flickr, and have been released under a creative commons attribute license, i.e. feel free to use them, but please be sure to credit the source.
Enjoy, and until the next shoot!