A Winter Conference Heats Up Finland's Startups

A Winter Conference Heats Up Finland's Startups

The Slush Startup Conference takes place every year in mid-winter in Helsinki and is a large gathering of startups, investors and enthusiasts. Furthermore, it is a key factor in the Finnish tech startup ecosystem.

Why it matters: Despite being a country with fewer than 6 million inhabitants, Finland surpasses others in terms of population. its weight in technology.

  • Not only is it the birthplace of Nokia, but it has also given rise to a strong video game industry since the 1980s ; There are now some venture capital-backed startups worth more than $1 billion each.

Overview: Slush was founded in 2008 by local entrepreneurs to bring new business enthusiasts together in a typically Finnish way with winter branding.

  • In 2011, a group of students from the new Aalto University in Helsinki took over the event and turned it into a real own meeting. of global investors and startups, according to Miki Kuusi, CEO of Wolt, who led the conference until 2015.
  • It has since grown to 13,000 attendees (2023), although during the conference there were more than 25,000. maximum points. in 2019.
  • The company also generates annual revenues of approximately 10 million euros (nearly $11 million) from ticket sales and advertising to maintain its operations. It's structured as an LLC and is actually run by a foundation.

By the numbers: Since 2011, about 29 percent of former full-time Slush employees have started their own businesses, according to the data collected by Accel and provided to Axios by Slush.

  • These numbers do not include the number of former full-time employees and volunteers who have joined the startups as employees.
  • Some former employees of Wolt, the Helsinki-based food delivery company that DoorDash acquired last year, have also founded their own startups.

Between the lines: “Perhaps the most transformative” What Slush did was rethink entrepreneurship to think “Attention: what do you do when you can't find a real job,” says former president Mikko Mäntylä, who (you guessed it) is now a startup founder alongside former Slush CEO Miika Huttunen.

  • In the 1990s, Finnish tech entrepreneurs looked to Silicon Valley for inspiration, as MySQL founder and CEO Mårten Mickos of HackerOne explains, but subsequent generations have always more adopted local models.

Yes, but: The Finnish venture capital landscape is still limited to early-stage funding, says Paavo Räisänen, partner at Maki.vc. This means that, at some point, companies will have to expand abroad.

  • And even if the participants, employees and even managers of the Slush conference are very heterogeneous, they are the Finns. most successful tech entrepreneurs are still almost all men. Only Reflex Solutions among the "unicorns" has a co-founder.
  • Kuusi hopes, however, that the situation will change and that it is only a matter of time.
  • The conference took place what will happen in There have also been failures over the years.

Conclusion: Corporate mistakes among Slush employees are far from eliminated; Outgoing CEO Eerika Savolainen also told Axios she wants to start her own company. . This is unrelated to the reporting and publication of this story.