As you can probably tell from the title of this post week 3 in Finland was all about Slush. Slush is Finland’s (and Northern Europe’s) largest event for entrepreneurs, start-ups and tech – it’s called Slush due to the type of snow they have a lot here. Much of the previous week’s work on pitching, demoing and presentation had all been in preparation for this really.
At Slush we were 1 of 100 teams selected to pitch on the lightweight track (for early stage unfunded start-ups) to a panel of judges with the aim of making it through to pitch Foundbite on the main stage to over 1000 attendees of the event. George was up in the first round with a fantastic two minute pitch without slides that saw us progress through to the top 20 and the second round.
The next day I was next up in the second round, pitching for 5 minutes with slides and three minutes of questions from the judges. The pitch went well despite the inevitable technical difficulties and some tough questions about why we were developing for Windows Phone (“There’s more than you think!”), though unfortunately we didn’t make it through to pitch on the main stage. Still a fantastic and worthwhile experience, especially considering we’d both done our first pitch (badly) when we arrived in Finland a few weeks ago.
Slush wasn’t all about pitching Foundbite though – we spent a lot of time on the AppCampus booth demoing and telling anyone who would listen about AppCampus and the opportunities available. We also got time to spend time talking to other start-ups from the Nordics and Baltics and see some really impressive products (check out Scoopinion – it suggest articles you would like based on your reading habits). There was also a free after party sponsored by Supercell, a hot Finnish game start-up which is hot on the heels of Rovio (another Finnish game start-up) and its super successful Angry Birds franchise. Supercell currently have the top 2 highest grossing games on the iPad app store (Clash of Clans and Hayday) and are rumored to be generating revenues of well over $750,000 a day! They are probably the only people that can actually afford to host a party with free alcohol in Finland!
The event was a great success with over 3000 guests and 500 start-ups showcasing their wares – it was huge. The Old Cable Factory where Slush was held (and where previously Nokia had developed the technologies that led to the first mobile phones) was packed to the brim and was filled with energy. However, it was the people behind the event that were most impressive – students. The whole event was organised by the Aalto Entrepreneurs Society (Altoes) with a budget of 900,000 Euros – a huge achievement. In fact, students are probably the single largest driving force behind Finland’s start-up economy with Aalto University spawning around 50 start-ups a year many of which go on to attract Venture Capital investment. There’s certainly a lot we can learn from the Finns – they’ve certainly taken the initiative when it comes to start-ups!