The Good, The Bad and The Slush

Once again, Slush arrived all guns blazing and took everyone on an intensive ride through the latest developments in all technology industries. As Slush keeps growing ever more massive, we also pulled something new from our Slush toolbox. After pre-screening thousands of startups and meeting hundreds of people at the event, it’s time to wrap it all up.

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Slush in new levels

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So how exactly has our Slush experience evolved since last year? We screened all Slush startups beforehand, helped our partners get the most out of Slush, but most importantly, we decided to switch from participating to organizing. This year we had our first side event, AI Afternoon. It brought together the most interesting startups, corporations and investors in the field of AI. And boy, did it exceed our expectations! We ran out of coffee mugs in the first 15 minutes and had to make an emergency call to the catering service to quench the thirst of our excited guests.

There were around 250 visitors in AI Afternoon and about 80 of them were AI startups. We provided standing tables with printed logos for the startups to make connecting to potential new partners easier, and nearly a half of the participating startups seized this opportunity. All in all, it was a great success. This is not the end of the progress though, this was merely an MVP to test our assumptions. Based on this experience, we’ll build awesome stuff upon the side event next year. And as I’ve been part of the awesome Slush crew and the local startup community, it's been quite interesting planning our own tactics at the event.

Corporate Venturing gets attention

The main theme of Slush is going through a transformation. Previously, inspiring young entrepreneurs was the center of attention, but this time emphasis was given to collaboration between startups and corporations, making corporate venturing an even hotter topic than before. It seems that Slush has already sown enough new startups and now it’s time to make everyone work together.

This year, the discussions of corporate CEOs and top management at Slush Executive Day revolved around different methods with which large corporations may effectively collaborate with small players. For most companies, the time of acquisitions and equity investing is practically over. The focus is no longer in ownership but in coexistence and collaboration. In today’s environment, speed is king, and equity stakes are often the exact opposite of speed. Gregor Gimmy, the founder of BMW Startup Garage, summed it up quite well: “Don’t buy startup equity! Instead, buy their products. Don’t mentor startups! Instead, be a demanding client.”

Gregor also added my favorite quote of the whole Slush: “A startup with funding actually has more resources to solve a specific problem than a large corporation.”

Intelligent startup trends

Looking at the types of startups in Slush, the numbers are pretty clear: Analytics and artificial intelligence had a dominant presence this year. Of all startups participating in the event, 19% are involved in analytics and 18% in AI. These two horizontals are often found together as a pair since they both benefit from each other. However, not all of the analytics and AI startups are developing their own algorithms, but the majority of them are applying the technologies of others to build more practical solutions. Other popular industries are e-commerce, mobile and enterprise software.

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Top launches and announcements

Since Slush is the center of everyone’s attention, it is the optimal place to launch new products or projects. In our special Slush Top 100 list, we’ve gathered all the important and notable announcements and a few other things as well. Here’s a tasting:

  • Samsung’s Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn announced that a new AI research center will be launched in Europe and mentioned that Finland would be a great location for it

  • Atomico launched an impressive “State of European Tech 2017” report, a recommended read for everyone

  • Canatu, a Finnish startup manufacturing carbon nanotube sensor technology, received 12 M€ in funding

  • A Chinese accelerator Comb+ announced a 65 M€ fund to foster Nordic AI startups in their early stages

  • And of course, we at Avanto Ventures launched our own Kaira Accelerator program with AI focus

Rinse and repeat

Christmas and New Year are around the corner, then we have the Spring holidays, Midsummer and WHOOPS, it's Slush time again! Better start planning Slush 2018 now, we have already.

Enjoy the holidays!