SAMK startuppers @ SLUSH 2021

In 2020 the pandemic messed up our Slush plans and the event was canceled. Luckily, once more in 2021, the event series continued and so did our yearly excursions to Slush. Our students were once more back in action! 

What is Slush? Slush is the world’s leading growth company and investor meeting point. The entrepreneur or a company can find partners, co-founders, and/or investors from the event. And on top of all that, a lot of learning. SAMK startuppers were mainly learning, but many brought in their startup idea or existing company. 

From SAMK, seven students joined with their companies or ideas and two staff members. The ‘SAMK approach’ to the event is that we will not go in as tourists. Every student and student team applied for startup passes with their own ideas and the ones who got their application accepted, got in! Through this process, the entrepreneur gets access to the core of the event: the two-day meeting marathon in 30min intervals. One can ram through 30 meetings in two days! Talks will be washed and lunch will be had IF there’s the time between meetings. Focus is to have as many interactions as possible to maximize the amount of learning and networks you can accumulate during the event. 

This time the companies and ideas that went in were, Etäterveysasema Kätevä, Crop Corn, and Wisle – so a very multidimensional group! The best results you get from the event are when you prepare well. Both extroverts and introverts thrive in the event as long as you remember that the event is full of geeks like us that are as passionate about their things as we are. Paavo from Wisle said it well: ‘it is great to meet similar minded people who really listen to every word you say. People are genuinely interested about your ideas and you never know when the next great contact comes from.’ 

Crop Corn’s Julia and Essi mentioned that: ‘one has the opportunity to crystallize a business idea and validate it in just two days at Slush.’ This is at the heart of fail fast -thinking what is something that Santeri Koivisto, one of the mentors participating, is always preaching. ‘As soon as you have an idea, start talking and look at how people react. This is the best way to check if your idea really is something’. Slush is the best place to test ideas that are just on an idea stage and if those ideas are something worth building further. One of the highlights that Julia and Essi mentioned was the peer support and casual chats people have during the event. Event in our own nine people group our entrepreneurs found collaboration opportunities and synergies. 

The role of the staff members who joined was to build SAMK networks, but to also act as a support in meetings if needed. For example, our senior adviser in AI, Mr. Jussi Bergman joined some of the most important meetings of AI driven companies to bring that extra depth to explain potential tech working behind the idea. Santeri’s role was more about market analysis and pitch practice. 

During the event, in two days, the SAMK crew went through over 100 meetings! Let’s think that for a moment: how long it would take from two staff members and seven students to meet 100 potential collaborators outside of  Slush?

So how to succeed at Slush? 

Organizing school / HEI: 

  • Book a massive airbnb and tickets EARLY
  • Prepare and mentor students well to clearly elaborate their businesses and deliver their pitches
    • Remember that Slush is a ‘growth’ company meetings – all ideas should have a scalable component such as SaaS or valuable data
  • Book transportation and side events early
  • Every student should apply for their own startup passes – ofc after the business and pitch preparation
  • If you get a pass, you get in
  • Mentors come in as ‘wingman’ and will buy a ticket as part of the startups (save lots of €), this is the only way to get into the meeting area
  • When the mentors are not supporting the startups, they are building their own professional network

It’s up to you how much you want to subsidize. 

Slush is a great opportunity to learn both for mentors and mentees. 

Entrepreneur / student:

  • Your personality is a key, be yourself! – Slush is full of curious people just like you who are not afraid to be excited about something. You don’t need to be a ‘hustler’ to thrive at Slush. The event is full of extroverts and introverts. 
  • Prepare your pitch deck well, train your pitch already before the event – every meeting matters
  • When the application is accepted, matchmaking opens. This is the most important part of the event. Now it’s the time to schedule all those great meetings. Preparation is key. 
    • You should also keep the matchmaking open during the event and agree to more meetings on the go
  • If there’s the time during the event, visit the stands and side vents – join the relevant side events. These informal encounters are the most valuable part of the event. Talks etc. are for tourists! 😉 
  • Enjoy! No need to be a tryhard. Remember to reflect and iterate your presentation. Look at people’s reactions and change your presentation bit by bit after every meeting. You’ll get super good!

Juho Viitala said: “It was ‘heathenings’ to go into the meetings at the beginning, but at the dusk of the second day this (roaming from meeting to meeting) started to be very exciting and fun”. Juho swam like a fish in the ocean with world-renowned entrepreneurs and investors. This can be done by you with the right attitude and preparation. 

Finally, it’s good to mention, that events like Slush are unique opportunities to learn, build networks amongst other things. We need people who thrive in these circles in every corner of Finland. We strongly recommend that every higher education institution invests in their student entrepreneurs and sends them to Slush. We are happy to help! And remember: NO TOURISTS! 

Startup websites:

Text: Slush Samkarit 

Mr. Jussi Bergman