Slush Helsinki is one of the biggest tech & startups events in Nordic. Occurred on Nov 30 - Dec 1 in Helsinki, Slush 2016 welcomed more than 17000 visitors from 120 countries all over the globe. This year is the two consecutive time MeetingPackage.com presented in the event. And we asked some of our staff members who were in Slush 2016 to talk about what they learnt afterwards.
Matti Rautanen - Marketing Director
10 years working in the hospitality industry
In all honesty, I must say that SLUSH is not my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong; I can see the business logic behind events like these. Excellent services and eye-catching content with a business twist bring a solid argument for a high ticket price. And why wouldn't it? With the cost skyrockets every year and every year, more and more visitors comes to Helsinki, it put heavier pressure to the organisers to bring more quality to the event.
Speaking of which, I applaud the hosting organisation on creating this monster of an event to Helsinki. Just imagine the logistics alone is huge. Take Helsinki hotels as an example. For Slush 2016, it's been reported that hotels in Helsinki were fully booked before and during the 2-day event. It should surprise even seasonal hoteliers since the average daily rate for hotel rooms did not grow that much during the Slush week. Overall, I think over 17 000 visitors from 120 countries was a huge achievement not only for Slush but the Helsinki hotel industry as well.
There is one downside, though. Due to the considerable ticket prices, pragmatically, companies would purchase tickets in bulk and distribute them to its members, rather than buy single tickets. As a result, many people got the ticket just to fill the slot or came to the event out of curiosity. So truth be told, the "togetherness" of like-minded business people that the organisers tried hard to instil into the event was lost on the way.
On the first day when I was there, the first thing that struck me was the brilliant setting in the event hall. As a person who has been working in the meeting industry, I was impressed with the ambience. The general tone was dark and ominous, in accordance to the central theme this year. On the main hall, there were separate areas for networking and several soundproof booth/cubicles available for attendees. However, those booths were always occupied due to high demand. Hopefully, the organiser will take a hint of the cues and will install more of these meeting cubicles.
Visitors who come to Slush are often founders of startups, investors looking for potential business, and new graduates looking for jobs. The core segment of Slush is an innuendo to help people find matches investors. In fact, more and more start-up flourishing from the event is in Slush advantage, as success stories of startups getting funds is marketing gold. However, the fact that most of the start-ups do not get funding from the contacts they got in Slush is making founders more reluctant to participate in the event.
On a personal note, the main reason I was in Slush was to see what is all the hype about but also hope to find interested partners for our business. However, the impression I got after strolling around the main hall was the whole thing like a disorganised chaos. Every 2nd persons face glued to their mobile devices and thus, people bumped into each other in every direction. When I got to talk to someone, almost all conversation started with a frantic pitching regardless if they had anything to pitch.
Speaking in a loud and hectic exhibition hall did not make the situation better since it was impossible to listen to each other. The biggest plus would be the fact that you get a stack of business cards to contact after the event.
All in all, Slush did well enough to motivate its attendees with motivational speeches, business stories, and inspirational atmosphere. That makes the experience more vivid than regular exhibitions, as well as the enthusiasm. So for me, it was like recovering from a huge sugar rush after the event. It's called "Exhibition exhaustion" when you are totally bummed out even though you were puffing and huffing on some newest and coolest thing in the market with a total stranger just a moment ago!
I came to Helsinki in August 2015 and had heard about slush as a spectacular event for startups and business. I had to wait one year before I could finally make it to Slush 2016 thanks to Meetingpackage.com.
Here is my experience. I arrived at the Messukeskus, the home of Slush to be welcomed with a very systematic and effortless entry. That was incredible since over 17000 people were attending the events this year. Inside, The main stage was the centre of attraction, but I was also impressed by the warm setup at the Black stage. By all means, the event was everything that I've expected as a centre event for startups and techs.
Slush had the perfect blend of business mannerism and laid back attitude; which is perfect for the tech-minded introverts to get out of the comfort zones. The settings were just right. Lights, lasers, display colours, and people were blending all together to create the whole feeling good experience.
Three things I noticed off the bat as I started interacting with the people was the immense passion, pride in the product/ brand/ idea that they represent and the desire to show it to the world. That created throughout positive conversations where a piece of tech suddenly was not a tool that anyone can check out from the Internet but now a face and a story. That’s what intrigues me as a person, to know the story behind a product.
As I made my ways through the event hall and listened to people's story, I had the opportunity to talk about the story that I am also representing, the story of MeetingPackage.com. Our business idea and platform was appealing to many like-minded people as great conversations were made during the time. I got some valuable feedback regarding it too.
Another crucial fact about Slush which made it an exceptional event was its diligent customer services. Just a small example: the coat check facility. The host organised 18000 coat hanging areas facilitated all by Slush volunteers to take care of 17000 people's belongings. However, at no point, there was a rush for coat check. Everything was so smooth and efficient. Speaking of which, the team of 2500 volunteers deserved praises for their diligence and commitment to the cause. There was no situation where I saw someone in distress or clueless and unattended.
Among many speakers presenting this year, I particularly liked the speech of Ankur Jain, Co-Founder of HUMIN - which has now been acquired by TINDER. His emphasis on giving a strong focus on making a product the best one of its kind in the market and how the market approach resonated to me personally as it relates to my job role and passion.
The infamous slogan of Slush 2016 was an idea of a volunteer. Courtesy: Slush Media
To top it all, let me rephrase the Slush 2016 banner - which is the best one line campaign I have ever seen: "NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WILL COME TO HELSINKI ON NOVEMBER. EXCEPT YOU, YOU BADASS, YOU ARE WELCOME". Well, that’s Slush 2016 for you.
Thang Tran - Marketing Coordinator
This year was the second time I was in Slush event and the first time as a Startup participant. It was a very different experience from the volunteer perspective. I could see this year, Slush's organiser has tried their best to inject more intimacy into the whole event theme. The paths were narrower to give more spaces for Startup booths and seats, the stages were significantly smaller, and the audience seats were closer, especially in the Black stage and Green stage. Personally, I was impressed by the Black Stage setting. With the idea to bring more freedom for participants and encourage wider interaction, the organiser had put up a circle seating, including rows of chairs circling the middle stage. The fireplace and living room chairs on the stage brought up a sense of warm affection and avoid the effect of compression.
The warm setup with fireplace in the middle of the stage transformed the atmosphere in the Black Stage. Courtesy: Slush Media
Had been with Slush as a volunteer before and now as a participant, I see that the organisation in Slush is truly the expert in bringing out the best out of the lighting and sound system in Messukeskus. Another bright spot of Slush has always been the characteristics and commitments of the volunteers coming from many different backgrounds throughout Finland. I am also happy for the team that their effort starts getting acknowledgements on a global scale. The Slush banner was brilliant and knowing it was an idea of volunteer members was truly a remark that Slush wants to bring out: Inspire and Motivate.
One personal problem for me was the lack of lighting in the event hall gave me trouble to navigate. The narrow paths brought up some bumpy experiences during the day, but there was no big deal. I am now looking forward to Slush 2017 to seeing what new they are going to bring up next year.
It was my first time going to Slush, and I have only heard about the massive hype that is around the whole event. People from everywhere trying to sell their ideas, crazy parties and an excellent opportunity to connect and superb pitches.
Based on what I experienced strolling around the event areas I didn’t get the feeling that this was of any importance or this was an opportunity to meet people to connect. The screens lit most of the people’s faces, and that was most of the experience. Few dared to start a conversation or try and sell their ideas, but those fell quite short with the tedious, repeated pitches which in my opinion didn’t focus on the right topics but talked about things which had nothing to do trying to sell the product/service.
There were some splendid product ideas which were marketed awfully and ridiculous products which got way too much publicity than they should have. ‘Be your own bank and control everything’, an idea which excluded the reality that the currency should be stored somewhere. That function was completely ignored and made the self-reliant product into a product which had to rely on another service which it was supposed to replace. Failed creative destruction.
I could only promote the event for Developers which seemed to be in huge demand in the event or startup enthusiasts.