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How to prepare for Slush in Helsinki for maximum impact: a startup experience

On November 17 and 18, the Slush 100 Pitching Competition was held in Helsinki. It is a non-profit event where entrepreneurs from different countries share their experiences, and there is also an international competition for startups. 

PRNEWS.io participated in the startup conference for the first time in 2019, and the experience was valuable for us. In this article, the team describes how to spend time at the event in a business-friendly way and generate leads.

What is Slush?

Slush takes place in November in Helsinki, where daylight hours last until 3 p.m. The event is well described by the conference motto: 

“No one in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. Just Me and other 25,000 Slush participants.” 

and

“Push Your Idea Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine.”

The startups at Slush are young, technology-driven companies looking for investment and seeking rapid growth through a scalable business model.

Thousands of startups are represented at the event, from Korean cosmetics to unburnable fabrics to blockchain-based navigators.

Who should go to Slush, and why?

The Slush conference will be of interest to anyone who wants to:

make a name for themselves in the global marketplace;

  • find partners, clients, and investors;
  • find out whether the market needs your product;
  • be inspired by the scale of global business;
  • looking for networking and ideas.

It’s also worth trying if your product doesn’t do well in the local market, it may be suitable for another country.

If you are only targeting the local market and are not willing to shell out $3,000 for a trip that may not pay off until a year from now or may not pay off at all, take a look at other events.

How to get to the conference

First, you need to fill out a detailed application form, in which you need to share:

  • how your company currently operates and what you hope to achieve;
  • the strategy of business development, growth forecast;
  • about the scale of the business;
  • whether you need investment, and if so, for what.

Applications are considered slowly. We applied in early July and only received confirmation in mid-October. You have to negotiate participation with a booth separately. There were only 160 startups out of 3,500 in 2019 with booths. There are a total of 80 seats, with some companies taking them on the first day and others on the second day.

There is a fee to attend the conference, even if you qualify. A one-day ticket for a startup participant will cost 400 euros (preferably a two-day ticket for a team), and a booth will cost 895 euros per day. If you are not a startup, or if you failed to qualify, you can buy a visitor’s ticket for 895 euros, or a Friday-only ticket for 545 euros.

Why do you need a booth?

The ability to represent your company with a booth is negotiated separately. We believe it makes no sense to go to Slush without a booth because the right people just won’t notice you in the crowd.

Bring your laptops, product samples, and business cards. For companies that don’t use paper business cards for environmental reasons, we suggest networking on LinkedIn.

Slush gives the impression of a nightclub, not a conference. That’s why you can also stand out in appearance – dress up in a corporate bow, use wild hats, and accessorize with bright colors.

How to search for new contacts?

Slush has a specific application for smartphones where participants can contact each other before the conference. In your account, you need to specify who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for: networking, ideas, clients, partners, investors, and media. If you are interested in specific companies or investors, we’ll advise you to connect with them on LinkedIn.

How to get the most out of the conference:

  • Participate for at least one day with a booth.
  • Attend with your team so you have time to network.
  • Make appointments a month in advance.
  • Retain contacts and write down the results of the communication.
  • Use partnerships with other companies and agencies to expand your reach.

The key goal of going to Slush is networking. Everyone talks about products, services, ideas, and experiences. There were three of us at the conference, and each talked non-stop with potential clients, partners, and investors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 90% of the conversations were business-related but casual and easy.

What you definitely shouldn’t do at Slush:

It’s not a good idea to devote all your time to speakers. The power of Slush is networking.

Don’t be ashamed of your English level. Even though most people don’t have the highest level of English, everyone understands each other.

Don’t put off presenting your startup for later, or do it via email. Find the right people and talk to them. 

Don’t expect to remember everything. Take business cards, add yourself to LinkedIn, take pictures of badges and booths, and write down important points in notes and voice messages.

Summary 

We had 140 face-to-face meetings at Slush and collected a database of over 1000 leads. About 75% of them were our potential clients (companies, agencies), 15% were potential partners, and 10% were media.

Two weeks after the conference, we received the first converted leads. Judging from previous events, if you systematically conduct leads through the sales funnel, up to 10% can be converted into clients within a year after the event.

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