The Finnish start-up conference Slush is a “Talent Finland” competition, but in tech innovation. It was arranged 21-22nd November, and the the venue was as usual the old cable factory Kaapeli in Helsinki. The two-day conference experienced a big growth this year, there were more than 3000 tickets sold. It was more than the organizers expected; just before the conference started, they estimated 2500 people to meet up. Over 500 start-up companies and over 200 investors attended. And Slush is not just a national conference anymore, the nationalities represented must also have been a significant quantity.
So, what is the thing about Slush? Of course it brings together a lot of people, so it´s a great place to network on. But what seems to get most of the headlines is definitely the pitching competition. Pitching could be explained as the fine art of getting an investor or producer interested in your idea after just a few minutes presentation. Start-ups are pitching their products or services to a jury, a panel of experts, who immediately give feed-back on the start-up's ideas and content, as well as their performance. And later at the event the Slush staff can announce the winner of the year.
Seems like Slush is developing to be the greatest start-up scene in Finland – maybe soon the greatest in Europe? We definitely need this kind of events, they boost innovations. Young entrepreneurs need to test their ideas and meet other doing the same. Not to speak of meeting business angels. It can also be a quite hard school in presenting your ideas, because an entrepreneur who is lacking skills in performing and structuring a presentation can get quite harsh critics by the jury. But it can be a healthy lesson.
As the competition gets harder it is of increasing importance that you as an entrepreneur get your pitch right. You have to learn how to tell your story. Not only at the pitching stage, everywhere. The message should be clear at your web site, your Facebook page and in your tweets as well. Seems that too many fail with this, it is too often you see pages with fancy graphics and even a good logo, but you still have difficulties understanding what it is about. If you have to explain your web site to people, then probably the pitch also can be quite a struggle. If it takes more than a couple of minutes to understand what the added value is, or where the fun is, then the warning bells should be ringing. Either the approach or the target person was not right.
But where could an engineer learn presentation skills? Or performing skills? It truly needs practising. Maybe local boot camps would be something? Not just a pitching boot camp – a storytelling boot camp! You need to learn how to tell your story in different media, today we need to tell a multiplatform story. A quality that makes a company stick out from the others is definitely storytelling. The ones who can tell their story well get seen.
It is time to gather the local talents as we wait for next year’s Slush.
by Hasse Eriksson, Courses and Events Manager at MediaCity Finland