A Slush Veteran's take on Slush, from 2016-2018

By Anton Chernenko on December 6, 2018
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At callstats.io, we attend multiple different kinds of events every year. Just in the past month, we have attended several different events around the globe.


When we attend different events, we like to showcase the amazing things we do at callstats.io with a great team of people. For example, at Kranky Geek 2018, we introduced AI Notifications, which received a lot of positive feedback and attention. At Amazon re:Invent 2018, we talked about our latest Amazon Connect integration and experience with monitoring contact centers.


So, what does this all have to do with Slush?


Slush is perhaps one of the largest (if not the largest) startup events in Finland. It started as a midsize conference with 300 attendees in Finland, and has become a worldwide event, with conferences in Singapore, Tokyo, and Shanghai. Though it has a few main themes, Slush is not dedicated to one particular topic beyond helping companies find investment, growth markets, good connections, and ultimately, success.


This week was my third Slush event, and second Slush as part of the callstats.io team. What did I expect from it this year?


In 2017, I had been with callstats.io for a few short months. I was new to real-time communications, and I was missing essential connections from the field. I wanted to build my reputation and personal brand. Talking to many companies at Slush last year helped me build good connections and spread the word about callstats.io.


There are a lot of positive things about Slush if you come prepared and know what you are doing. I always book meetings ahead of time with companies I want to talk to, and bring a few extra business cards, though this year adding people directly in LinkedIn was easier and no paper was wasted.


However, there are some cons about Slush as well.


  1. Many people ignore or do not use the matchmaking tool, a tool to connect attendees based on their market. I saw several posts on LinkedIn from frustrated attendees who invested a lot of time crafting perfect personal messages to book meetings and did not have a single response. They were good people with interesting projects, too. Sadly, I noticed it myself as well, when half of my meeting requests were not even read.

  2. The event is full of seemingly random people and startups that do not know what they actually want from the event. Key people are often missing, and there are many marketing and sales individuals, which makes it difficult to directly talk to product/project managers, team leads, and others. When you have sales talking to other sales, it is often a nightmare. :)

  3. It is easy to get lost. Maps and navigation are far from perfect. Intentional smoke and little light does not make it any easier, though it is their branded “Slush Atmosphere”.

  4. Several countries send massive teams to Slush. Last year I saw a big team from Italy, this year ones from Israel, Germany, South Korea, and a few other countries. To be honest, I don’t fully understand this. For the most part, countries should not help private business by bringing them to events. Investors can and should contribute, like Siemens, Tieto, etc, but not countries. I think there are better ways to promote businesses than by sending 10+ companies to Finland to stay in overpriced hotels and talk to strangers who most likely will never buy their services anyways. I may be wrong.


All in all, if you come prepared and know that you want to hack the event, get your leads, customers, fresh hires, or whatever you have in mind for Slush, go for it. Else, attend a specialized event for your field and spend your budget on other things.

 

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