It’s a wrap! Highlights from Day 3 of Web Summit Rio 2023

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Marie Boran
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Monique Lima, co-founder and CEO, Mimo Live Sales, stands on stage with arms outstretched while speaking. Monique wears a white blouse and orange skirt.

And that’s a wrap! After a spectacular Opening Night and three eventful and exciting days, Web Summit Rio 2023 has come to a close.

Today’s speakers showed us how technology – from eVTOLs and smartbots to AI assistants – can enhance our lives and pave the way for a brighter future.

Here are some of the highlights from Day 3.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

“The idea of urban mobility in the air is not new. Everyone who has ever sat in traffic has thought about it.” So said Andre Stein, CEO of Eve Air Mobility, the company bringing a new mode of transport to Rio – and beyond.

A spin-out of giant Brazilian aerospace business Embraer, André’s team has developed eVTOL – a new, fully electric mode of airborne urban transport. “You probably heard that flying is the safest way to travel. Well, this is actually true,” said André, citing the stringent regulations set for air travel.

Two male presenting speakers (left to right)  Eve Air Mobility CEO André Stein and Diogo Teixeira, co-owner and publisher of Razão Automóvel, speaking on stage at Web Summit Rio 2023.
André Stein, CEO of Eve Air Mobility, (left) and Diogo Teixeira, co-owner and publisher of Razão Automóvel, speaking on the Auto/Tech and TalkRobot Stage. Image: Sam Barnes/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

Based in Rio, Andre’s team has been researching flight routes and mapping out all data possible to enhance the safety and potential of its urban mobility plan. With a target of up to 200 eVTOLs in Rio, there’s a lot to be done.

“We’re using technology to make aviation safer and better every time,” said Andre. “Because you are flying like a plane, but with no propellers, it is much quieter. We are reducing the footprint of helicopter flights by up to 90 percent. It won’t replace cars or trains. For communities, it is about bringing another option.”

How Latin America is shopping better by shopping live

The demise of bricks-and-mortar retail has been widely discussed. But how can we retain its best qualities and combine it with the practicality of online shopping? Live shopping, through a live stream on a social platform, could be that happy medium.

Monique Lima, co-founder and CEO of shopstreaming platform Mimo Live Sales, said that although wider ecommerce platforms have just nine percent penetration in the Latin American retail market, 20 percent of all Brazilians have purchased a product through live shopping.

“Live shopping is the most humanized way to shop and sell online,” said Monique, adding that it “offers real-time brand interaction, more trust in the buying process, and the opportunity for product demos.”

The appeal of this type of retail is obvious when you consider Mimo’s success; “the ecommerce conversion rate is usually two percent. Our conversion rate is 10 percent”.

Monique pointed out that live shopping is an unheralded opportunity in Latin America, with China often a stronger focal point for entrepreneurs and investors.

AI will improve your job, but regulation is key

Yes, AI is coming for your job; it’s coming for all our jobs. But only for the boring bits, said Dan Westgarth, COO of payroll and compliance platform Deel: “All different stakeholders should embrace it. When it comes down to the work that people are doing, AI will solve the most basic and boring of tasks.”

Dan’s company is already using it to automate ID verification but, crucially, there is a ‘human in the loop’. In the event that the AI fails, a human will always step in and take over.

Dan Westgarth, COO of Deel, speaking on Center Stage during Day 3 of Web Summit Rio 2023. Dan is seated with his legs crossed and is wearing a white t-shirt while smiling
Dan Westgarth, COO of Deel, speaking on Center Stage during Day 3 of Web Summit Rio 2023. Image: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

Reflecting on whether it’s risky for companies to embrace such a rapidly developing technology, Emma Goldberg, future of work reporter for The New York Times, said: “It can feel a little bit like we’re building the plane as we’re flying it”.

The only way around this, said Dan, is to insist on regulation.

“Regulation drives innovation. We saw that in countries that regulated fintech and payments early on. We saw businesses within those countries innovate and build really amazing solutions,” explained the COO.

“The same will happen in AI. Companies that have an interest in it should be ready to react and adapt to those regulations and guardrails that are undoubtedly going to come out.”

When it comes to pitching, less is more

Pitching is perhaps one of the most nerve-racking elements of founding a startup. Great ideas can be hard to communicate in the high-pressure, fast-paced world of raising investment – particularly for those more experienced in the coding language than public speaking.

But according to a panel of experts on Center Stage, a smooth pitch isn’t always the key to success. “If you’re too polished, or if you’re acting, something feels fake. It’s a turn-off,” said Jager McConnell, CEO at Crunchbase.

While tech has long been known for its dressed-down, casual approach to work attire, a similar approach can be key when negotiating with a VC. “If I’m analyzing a company to invest in, I don’t like a transactional pitch,” said Izabel Gallera, partner at Brazilian VC, Canary. “I love to have a conversation, I love to be informal.”

Will generative AI usher out an era of customer service hell?

Humans have “failed terribly” in customer service, claimed Claudia Penteado, a contributing journalist with Valor Econômico. It’s a bold statement, but one that many people might agree with based on how they chase a refund or cancel a subscription.

But customer service can be very difficult, countered Sarah Al-Hussaini, co-founder and COO of customer service automation platform, Ultimate.

“People are already coming to you upset or worried. They have a concern, and you have to turn that around. If you don’t have the right answer and you can’t help them, they go from worried or unhappy to incredibly dissatisfied very fast.”

In an age of books and movies on demand and food rapidly delivered to your door, people expect instant solutions. This is where generative AI comes in.

ChatGPT-fuelled customer service bots can understand context, work with existing data and provide answers quickly at any time of the day or night.

“The majority of customer support today is transactional questions. It’s stuff like ‘where’s my order’ or ‘I want to update my account details’. And the truth is that AI is better than humans at solving these cases,” admitted Sarah.

It’s a wrap for Web Summit Rio 2023! Check out our social media channels to catch up on anything you might have missed, and follow the action on #WebSummitRio across Facebook, Instagram, X and LinkedIn.

Main image of Monique Lima, Co-founder & CEO, Mimo Live Sales, on Startup University Stage during day three of Web Summit Rio 2023: Sam Barnes/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

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