Slush, the largest start-up conference in Northern Europe and Russia, has proved to be so once again. Whether you are a young entrepreneur, a small company looking for funding or a venture capitalist searching for the next Rovio, Slush is the event. That being said, you shouldn’t be surprised that Hakema was also there.
Slush is an event meant for start-ups, and these companies are becoming more important every day. Many count on them to be the spark that will stir the sleepy post-Nokia economy, and Jyrki Katainen, the Prime Minister of Finland, is among them. In other words, start-ups are today cooler than they have ever been!
At 8 in the morning on November 13, when Slush opened, our team was eager to get in. First thing that struck me was the long queues for free food and coffee. We casually asked the Slush crew if they had any tickets left. They were still on sale for €750. What a startup price! Hakema was lucky to get a booth for the first day for €400.
It took us a while to get to our booth due to bulging crowds everywhere. We were located right next to the main stage and Nokia’s promo stand. This was clearly one of the best spots!
We were well prepared with totally new marketing material: big roll-up featuring our distinguished mascot Bingo and a cool-new brochure. The roll-up did its magic in attracting people but, as always, the stars of the day were our popular Bingo stickers. Did you get one?
It was interesting to discuss our products in such a lively environment. Many people came to chat, but I am not quite sure if Bingo behind me had something to do with it. I noticed that some people would just stop by any stand probably trying to collect the biggest number of cards. Perhaps they wanted to make the most of it after paying the hefty entrance ticket.
Nevertheless, it really was a unique opportunity to bounce ideas and see the reaction. Even though the day was long we went home with more energy and ideas.
I also had a quick look at the other companies around us. There seemed to be a lot of online advertisement and payment related startups present this year. Mobile was also a hot topic, and so was interpreting big data. The event was so big that I would have preferred a bit more segmenting, both with the program and the arrangement. Now it was somewhat fragmented.
Some different, yet clever tactics for attracting visitors to booths were used. One which stuck in mind was that you could get your Linkedin profile picture taken by a professional photographer. Smart.
We totally missed the first day talks and presentations because a) we were quit busy at the booth and b) the huge crowd made it impossible to attend unless you reserved your spot well ahead of time.
Day two was better, I guess some people were still recovering from the awesome after party and decided not to show up. Highlight of the day was the pitching competition. Really interesting startups and many high quality pitches. It was also the final event of the conference and attracted a full house to the main stage. The winner this year was Weekdone, a system for managers to track what’s happening in their teams. Clever concept, and even though the competition was fierce, I think they deserved the win.
It is great how Slush is done by a group of students, volunteers, young entrepreneurs and investors among others, that come together with a single and unique idea: to help start-ups.
The Slush-experience was good and the organizers clearly did their best – even though we did not manage to get any food before 7 pm because of the crowd. However, coffee was really good! We still had a good time, learned a lot, absorbed ideas from discussions and left the two day event with a lot of interesting contacts. See you next year!