Event | Startup Summit / December 16, 2019

Reflecting on Startup Summit 2019

On Wednesday 30th October 2019, we were joined by an incredible array of entrepreneurs and business leaders for the 8th edition of Startup Summit – and what a day it was!

Audience at Startup Summit

Since then, we’ve received a huge amount of wonderful feedback about the event. It’s extremely valuable for us to hear the thoughts of our attendees, partners and speakers, so a big thanks to everyone who’s been in touch! We work tirelessly to improve our events each year, while – crucially – making sure that we stay true to our values.

So, we’ve taken the time to reflect on the successes of the day and where we think we could have done better. We want to share with you what we’re going to improve for next year and open the conversation for you to help us shape the future of Startup Summit.

FutureX Origami Shapes


Creating a space where everyone can participate in the knowledge exchange is essential to Startup Summit‘s success. We have worked hard to foster a space where our audience feels empowered to engage in two-way communication with speakers, partners and each other.

Workshops were an opportunity for attendees to directly engage with experts. Audience Q&A sessions were a key component of all of our keynotes, interview and panels, and, for attendees not comfortable to take a mic, we encouraged speakers to come to the afterparty and keep chatting.

Audience at Startup Summit

Next year, we’ll be working on improving accessibility for our attendees. We’re aware that the Assembly Rooms has accessibility limitations, but there are certainly some areas under our control that we can improve on. Future Startup Summits will reserve space for any attendee who may use a wheelchair, and we will strive to ensure that our content is more accessible to those with sight or hearing loss.

It is our goal to set aside a quiet and comfortable space for prayer or meditation as well as a pumping room for breastfeeding mums to use while they’re out building a better world for the next generation.

Baby at Startup Summit

We’d love to hear from you about how we can improve on accessibility for our events! Please get in touch and let us know what would help you.

In upcoming years, we want to level the playing field even further. We’re looking into creating an app for attendees and speakers to connect and catalyse success. New ways to join the community are also in the works: keep an eye on this space for how we’ll be empowering entrepreneurs in the future!

FutureX Origami Shapes


Conferences and events can be a strain on the environment. Between large, one-time use sets, styrofoam coffee cups, single-use plastics and not-so-goody bags, the waste can be overwhelming.

For Startup Summit 2019, we worked with a local designer to create our sets. We’ve repurposed the wooden backdrops for future events – and we’ve recycled the rest sustainably. We’ll keep encouraging exhibitors to set up low- or no-waste stands – as we know all too well, it’s a journey to get there!

3 stages at Startup Summit

Attendees were encouraged to bring reusable water bottles and coffee cups, and we served a vegetarian and vegan lunch and refreshments. In the future, we’ll seek to further limit the amount of plastic used during the event and work more closely with our caterers to reduce food waste.

We printed our name badges on recyclable card, and we reuse returned lanyards. In the future, we’ll make sure the agenda is downloadable, and we also aim to transition into more eco-friendly lanyards.


We live in a diverse world, full of distinct life experiences and ideas. In an ideal society, diversity and inclusion would be the norm. However, the default voice is overwhelming, so we must be conscious of whose voices we are – and are not – championing.

At SUS19, both our attendee and speaker gender split missed our 50/50 target (in both cases 40% identified as women and 60% as men), so there is still room for us to improve in this respect. We also realised that our data disregards gender diversity – so in future we’re going to change our registration questions to take this into account.

40% Women
60% Men

We also aim to improve the diversity of our speaker lineup in terms of ethnicity. Only 5% of our speakers identified as BME, and while this is slightly higher than the number of people across Scotland from ethnic minority groups (4% according to the most recent census), we know we can do much better. For SUS20 and beyond, we’ll continue to actively work to improve this statistic.

Marta Krupinska at Startup Summit

The future of Startup Summit

A perfect Startup Summit is one that reflects the incredible diversity of the world we live in, is not a strain on our environment, and empowers entrepreneurs to take their place in the incredible community we are building. We’re on our way, but we’re not there yet.

Until then, we’ll take this learning and take steps forward. We wrote a similar reflection following Impact Summit 2019, and we’ll continue to do so as we learn and grow as an organisation. We’d love to hear from you – if you have any suggestions or want to support our social and environmental goals, get in touch!

FutureX Origami Shapes

See you at Startup Summit 2020!

FutureX Team