LISBON (ViaNews) – Ewan Spence describes himself as a storyteller but he’s been doing a lot more than just telling stories. Besides writing for Forbes, he was a BAFTA nominated broadcaster and has been working for prominent organizations such as the BBC. He’s been conducting shows in various national and local stations. He was Scotland’s first podcaster in 2005 and keeps hosting and creating groundbreaking shows to this day. One of them being Eurovision insight which covers The Eurovision Song Contest.
We met with Ewan at the Web Summit to make him tell us a great story, which he did.
Miguel Salvado – What do you think about Lisbon’s edition of the Web Summit?
Ewan Spence – I think one of the great things that Lisbon has been able to give the Web Summit is space to breathe. These conferences always have a lovely tendency to grow because when you put smart people in the room great things happen and when we put more smart people in a room more, and more, great things happen, it’s always exponential in its effect.
Dublin was great but the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) was of the size of one of these pavilions, we now have three, plus the centre stage. There’s so much more space for more excitement and sharing of skills and knowledge. even though there might only be a 30-second talk when I bump into somebody, those relationships are going to be build up over the next months and years and it’s those that are gonna build at the fabric of Europe of entrepreneurs of tech startups, software, hardware and a wider base that is given to us by the Web Summit here in Lisbon, there’s just much more chance getting those peaks.
Everybody’s talking at the Web Summit that entrepreneurs should have a god complex. Do you believe that’s a necessary skill for entrepreneurs to have?
It depends on what you mean by god complex, if it’s I can do no wrong, then no, what they should do is going to stand to be the president of the United States of America, that seems to be working out quite well. What they need is the inner belief because there are going to be problems every single step of the way but it takes time.
Paddy Cosgrave [Web Summit’s CEO] did not start, in a pub, or university, in Dublin saying he was going to fill every single seafront venue in Lisbon. He didn’t start with that, he started small to get big. I bet that if you went back there he would believe that he could have built up to something as big as this. I can guarantee you now he would be thinking about if he had one pavilion, two pavilions, or three pavilions, that’s belief. That’s not a god complex because he has made mistakes along the way, he’s still making mistakes, and I can guarantee there will be mistakes at this event just now. He [Paddy Cosgrave] believes that he knows where the endpoint is, that’s the biggest thing an entrepreneur can have, a belief that the end goal is there. Entrepreneurs also need to know to take advice, to other people to say -you kind of going in the wrong way, go that way- and things become easier. And that’s that advise, that knowledge, that’s what you’ll find at the Web Summit.
if you could sum up in a sentence a good piece of advice for young entrepreneurs, what would you say?
Believe. Just believe you have an idea. You said sentence so it’s going to be belief and knowledge. knowledge about everybody who’s doing exactly the same thing in your space. You can say you’ve got a great idea for claiming back expenses from travel, without knowing what everybody else in that space is doing because I can guarantee you that your investors will know.
There’s also passion, you got to have the burning core of -I can change the world, this is right- and you have to believe in it 100% because there will be dark hours and dark times. There will be moments when you’re considering closing the company down, take the money out, thinking I can pay everybody so everybody walks away with a couple thousand euros. That’s not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is when the passion burns and when he has the knowledge to go further when there’s the belief that there is something bigger at the end. It’s pushing through that: belief, knowledge, and passion. There’s your sentence.
What about execution? What’s the relation of the entrepreneur with execution, how should that be handled?
First thing is that there’s no hard and fast rule. There are different ways of executing. Let’s take a good example: when Paddy set this up, there were other conference models and he could follow, there’s Lift over in Switzerland, there was LeWeb happening in Paris, France. All of those conferences, entrepreneurs, startups, changed the world. All of them had different executions and all of them were a success. The key to execution is choosing what’s right in your situation at that time. If you don’t know the right way to do it, you get advice and after getting the advice you have to show leadership to make others see that this is where we’re going. You then build on everything you know, everything you believe, everything you’re passionate about and choose that direction.
Tell us about the Eurovision Insight.
We provide a community service to cover the delights of the Eurovision Song Contest. We have a weekly show that goes out and we do broadcasts from the venue. It’s kinda quiet for 11 months of the year but in May everybody loves us.