What I Learned at #slush14

Although I risk ‘crossing the streams’ with this post – brining my day job into the Explore Finland world – this article is about an event in Finland, so it’s not completely off-topic.

Slush is a fast-growing ‘trade show’ in Helsinki for Investors and Companies to meet, talk business and party a little. Below is a post that I recently shared on LinkedIn…


2014 was my first time at the Slush event. I’d been to several trade shows in the past and this couldn’t be so different, could it? Below are a few observations and lessons-learned at Slush 2014.

Arrange investor meetings in advance

Even if you only want a brief catch-up meeting or conversation. There were over 10,000 tickets sold, the chances of bumping into the right person are small, and the chance of them having time to see you at the last minute, smaller still. I tried for two days to meet with a friend, we both wanted to, we tried, but it just didn’t happen. I’m sure we’ll get-together someday soon Berit!

Don’t expect to close a deal

Slush is a dark, noisy event. a brilliant atmosphere but maybe not the place to discuss the minutiae of your business, so probably not the place to seal a deal. Use it as an opportunity to initiate a new business relationship, or to nurture an existing one.

Prepare your pitch

Whether you are in the competition, meeting a potential investor or exhibiting on a booth, make time in advance to prepare your presentation, so you’re ready to answer the question ‘Tell me about your company.’ Also, ensure everyone in your company is telling the same story, you don’t need a rigid script more like a structure, so that everyone tells the same story. Visit www.xport.fi to learn more about our new service, in partnership with PNP Crossing Borders, which will help you develop your performance at all types of exhibition & trade shows

Be clear about the amount you want to raise and how you will use it.

Or don’t.

Contrary advice and contrary examples were in effect at Slush. One investor said he wanted to know what the money would be used for, someone else said they’d been advised ‘Ask for help and you will get money, ask for money and you will get advice.’ Many of the early Slush100 pitches didn’t mention how much they wanted raise, some of those in the later rounds did.

So that’s clear then!

Minimalist booths

There is less structure to the booths than a traditional show. As befits an event that attracts a great number of start-ups, they were mostly simple roll-up signs and a table. There are a few different ‘exhibition areas’ where the booths are located, and they are positioned side-by-side, close together. This created a real buzz around these areas, but it’s not always easy to get close to the booth although it does ensure no-one hides behind a table – there is nowhere TO hide!

Make the most of the Keynote speakers and product presentations

Take the opportunity to watch some of the different presentations. Learn, be inspired, be entertained;

  • Slush 100 competition: see how they are structured, learn from the mistakes you see
  • Guest speakers: covering every possible industry as well as investors explaining what they want/expect to hear in a pitch
  • Product/service launches: Nokia N1, Jolla tablet

Remember the #Hashtag

The idea of using #hashtags to promote your live event (see my previous article) was in full effect at Slush. We were encouraged to use the hashtag #slush14 before the event started and there were signs all over Messukeskus reminding you. If you search #slush14 on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ you’ll find that it was well-used.

Xport & Jakamo in action at #slush14
Xport & Jakamo in action at #slush14

What an atmosphere!

Slush is unlike any event you’ve ever been to, darkly lit, dry ice and energy drinks – and that’s during the day. At night they simply replace the speakers with live music! Oh yeah, and the evening party included beer for the duration of the night.

Many thanks to the organisers at http://www.slush.org/ see you next year.

◊◊◊ Mark ◊◊◊

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