Hooking up at Slush


November sees Helsinki host the corporate world’s answer to power dating. Slush is where investors hope to fall in love with the next Spotify or Supercell.

“Reliable investor looking for promising startup with intent of starting a serious relationship.” This could well be the byline of Slush, one of the world’s premier business matchmaking events. The two-day conference – this year moving to a larger venue – connects venture capital with next-generation tech talent from around the world, spanning industries from gaming and cleantech to healthcare and life sciences.

Slush began as a small gathering of Finnish entrepreneurs brainstorming at a pub. Seven years later, it has grown into one of the world’s leading events of its kind, attended last year by 118 major international venture funds, prominent politicians and 350 international journalists sniffing out the latest tech trends. 

Cannes of the tech world

The event is named after the watery snow you get in the Nordics in November.

“Instead of trying to copy Silicon Valley, we wanted a name stemming from our own surroundings. But we sometimes find ourselves explaining to foreign visitors that our event is not named after the frozen beverage,” says Slush CEO Miki Kuusi.

“The rebellious feel of the Cable Factory (industrial space turned into cultural center) was a crucial part of the identity of Slush, but moving to the Helsinki Exhibition and Conference Centre will allow us to really take the event to the next level. For instance, we will be able to organize over twice the amount of meetings between investors and startups,” notes Kuusi, who hopes to see Finland evolve into a similar epicenter for the entrepreneur and tech community as Cannes is for movies.

Rocking robots

All the current tech incumbents and up-and-coming stars will be at Slush to wow investors and launch new products. Any bold startup with a grand vision and a gutsy attitude is welcome to take the stage in the pitching competition.

Among the fresh faces to share their story last year was ZenRobotics, creators of revolutionary recycling technology based on intelligent robotics. They launched a semi-mobile version of their recycler at Slush 2013, bringing the same efficiency boost to recycling as the advent of robots brought to the auto industry.

“We were very pleased with the visibility it brought us. As a large-scale event with a lot of media attention, it’s a great platform for getting your company known. We also made many new contacts, including potential candidates for recruitment,” says ZenRobotics CEO Juho Malmberg. 

He adds: “Thousands of companies and investors from all around the globe – what more could you ask for? But with such a massive scale, you have to have a powerful message to get noticed.”

Slush 2014

November 18–19
Helsinki Exhibition and Conference Centre, Finland

Text by Silja Kudel
Photo by Jussi Hellsten / Slush 2013
This article was originally published in Finnair's Blue Wings magazine (October 2014).

Published October 28, 2014

Category: Local features, Economy