My first Slush – How Finnish startup event got even royals interested

You can’t catch all the highlights at once, but that’s not even the point, writes Lauri Kangasniemi, Communications Specialist at Finpro.

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My friends probably wouldn’t describe me as the most laid-back guy. When it comes to formality, I stand somewhere on the solid ground between Jonathan Toews and Darth Vader. I do enjoy my tie and a fair share of dad jokes.

At my first Slush, there was little room for either.

Seriously, I have never been in a business event without ties (Al Gore and Prince Daniel being exceptions that prove the rule) and dad jokes. Those two are the basic ingredients of any trade fair, exhibition, business breakfast or dinner.

I was exploring a new territory.

It was apparent at first sight; Slush is, first and foremost, a tech startup event. There are plenty of lights, glow and hype surrounding the participating startups, guaranteeing that no one is left cold.

Although this was my first chance to visit the event, I have followed its success with a growing enthusiasm. Slush has grown massively from its early days, and it keeps on growing every year. This time, there were roughly 20,000 visitors, or tech-heads as the organizers phrase it, roaming around the Helsinki Exhibition & Convention Centre. Nine years ago, when the event was organized for the first time, the number of visitors was counted in three digits and the venue was a much smaller one.

What once was a local matter has lately become one of the most significant startup events in the world. Over the years, some things have changed – and some haven’t.

First, the ones that haven’t; the atmosphere is still very casual with low boundaries. As the Irish journalist John Kennedy said, Slush lacks red velvet ropes and VIP areas.

Nevertheless, the development has obviously left its mark on the event. Nowadays, Slush does not only attract startups and investors but also large companies, influential business executives, decision makers and even royals that want to feel the vibes of the startup culture.

Who can blame them? No matter how you slice it, the content of Slush is top notch.

And there are lots of it.

As the program is well built and abundant, you quickly notice that one simply does not have enough time to see it all, but that’s fine.

You can’t catch all the highlights at once, but that’s not even the point. There will be new years and new Slushes with new highlights, speakers and product launches. Therefore, a visitor should just be patient and pick their chosen cherries unhesitatingly.

That’s what I did.

After all, it was only my first Slush.

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