If you partied with us at TOA, you’ll know that Jobspotting and Slush have a special connection. With this year’s Slush conference just around the corner, we spoke to its President and Executive Producer about what they’ve got in store.
As they say themselves, “no one in their right mind would go to Helsinki in November”, but that doesn’t stop the guys at Slush from trying to entice people anyway. We attended the two-day conference last year, and though the weather was dreary, the welcome was warm, and the air crackled with sheer energy.
This year, they’re expanding the event to a week-long festival including a full programme of musical acts, and a wide variety of entertainment. But don’t take it from us. Let Niki from Slush fill you in on all the details.
Slush started as a two-day tech conference, but this year you’re planning a whole week of events. Tell me why you decided to expand it, and what’s different this year! What can people expect?
If you’re traveling all the way to Finland, spending time and money, you should get as much value for your commitments as possible. Furthermore, there are few places where so many people converge from all around the world to be at the same place at the same time. There are never enough possibilities to meet the people who are specifically relevant to you. Expect a lot of excitement and friendly smiles from people who are more than happy to engage in conversations.
You’ve already made headlines by chartering a Finnair flight directly from San Fran to Helsinki. Tell me about that!
Yes! People were complaining that it’s hard to travel from the Valley to Helsinki, so we gave them a direct flight from SF to Slush, simple as that. I mean, why not? You can read more about it, see who else is on that plane, and book your flight here.
It’s really turning into a festival. What kind of entertainment can people expect?
Well, we’ve always felt that events should be all-encompassing experiences, not only providing the best business value you can find, but also the best experience. This is why we design our events with inspiration from music festivals around the world. Our after-parties are legendary since all the excitement people gather during the day runs rampant in the evenings. We’ve just released a new vertical, Slush Music, which means a lot of international artists will be found at Slush from here on out.
Give me some stats! How many speakers are there going to be this year? How many attendees are you expecting?
We’re expecting 15,000 attendees from 100 different countries, 2,200 volunteers, 250+ speakers, 2,300 startups, 1,000 investors, and 700 journalists.
Give us a sense of what people can gain from attending Slush, from investors, to startups, to students. What’s in it for them?
Investors can save a lot of time they normally spend trying to find good startups relevant to them. There are lots of them at Slush, and it’s easy to find the ones relevant to each investor since we have our own matchmaking tool that lists all startups and automatically suggests the ones that fit the description of what the investor is looking for. If you find someone who looks promising you can communicate through the platform and pre-book a meeting at our meeting area during the event. Startups use the matchmaking tool to find investors. There are few events that attract as many as Slush does, along with the most prominent ones such as Chris Sacca and Steve Jurvetson who are coming this year. Students can apply for free student tickets in order to enjoy high-level speakers and get inspired by founder stories, or learn about new interesting topics from industry experts. However, in order to get the real Slush experience one should apply to volunteer, we’ve gotten feedback that volunteering at Slush is one of the best volunteer experiences you can find anywhere in the world.
What’s new in the Nordic tech scene that people can learn more about when they go to Helsinki?
In case you didn’t know, Nordic startups represent 1% of all startups in the world, but 10% percent of all billion dollar exits are from Nordic countries. There is a lot of talent here and since the local markets are so small, most startups are born global. The ecosystem has only now started to blossom so don’t be surprised if you run into the next Google when you come to Slush.
I noticed last year that you have a massive, talented team of volunteers making sure that everything runs according to plan. What do they stand to gain from the experience.
New friends, connections and hopefully some knowledge on how to start their own company, or get an idea for one. Furthermore, we have extensive collaboration with different companies who like to recruit people from our volunteer pool. If you’re looking for a job, having been part of Slush as a volunteer is held in high regard among the companies that attend Slush.
Have you got any suggestions for hidden gems in Helsinki that people should check out while they’re in town for Slush?
You’re coming to Finland, so you need to go to a real sauna. You do know we invented the whole thing, right?! Sauna is also sauna in Finnish, a language that isn’t related to any other languages, other than Estonian and Hungarian. Everyone will tell you to visit the posh sauna: Löyly. The original public sauna is in Kallio, Harjun Sauna. However, if you’re a true warrior you’ll go to the most public sauna in the world: Sompa Sauna.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Niki! If you’d like a preview of the Slush action in Berlin, they’re going to throw an event with PwC NextLevel on October 17th. Click here for more details, and to register.
All photos courtesy of Slush Media.