Slush Helsinki 2019

slush helsinki 2019 // what to see at the world's leading tech startup event.

Slush Helsinki is considered by many to be the world’s leading tech startup event. It’s a non-profit movement made by a team that is committed “to create and help the next generation of ground-breaking entrepreneurs”, a mission that’s very close to ours here at B. amsterdam. They’ve also grown from an event with 300 attendees to one with 20,000, and now hold events in places all around the world. Slush has an outward-looking purpose; year after year they strive to create a genuine community of progressive entrepreneurs, they’re determined to help others, and we like that a lot.

Here’s a list of 10 must-attend events at Slush Helsinki 2019 to get you thinking.

1. Planning 10 Years Ahead: Deeptech Companies and the Uncertainty Struggle

Derek Haoyang Li (Founder of Squirrel AI)

Innovation in deep tech companies can be tricky. Because of the often many years of R&D involved, coupled with the near-impossible task to predict the future of technology, it’s a difficult path to walk and one that is hard to plan for. On top of that, the large investments normally needed to fund innovative projects are made all the harder to catch given the uncertainty of future industry movements. How do you plan ahead in a field that is notorious for its unpredictability?

2. Harnessing the Power of Community

Tina Sharkey (Co-founder of Brandless)

Brandless was created by Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler to bring high quality, sustainable and innovative consumer products to everyone. It’s a company that prides itself on democratizing access to products that normally come at a premium because of their altruistic nature. As Sharkey says herself, “better shouldn’t have to cost more”. Hear her speak about meaningful relationships with customers and co-creating products with the people you ultimately serve.

3. Founder Story of Myspace & Jam City: How to Succeed in Uncharted Industries?

Chris DeWolfe (Co-founder of Jam City and Myspace)

Myspace is still one of the most well-known social networks in the world, and Jam City is still one of the leading mobile gaming developers with over 50 million monthly users. Both were co-founded by Chris DeWolfe, and both businesses at their beginnings ventured into exciting but emerging industries. What does it take to build the best in uncharted waters, and how do you overcome challenges that no one else has faced?

4. Remote Work: It's What You Do, Not Where You Are

Sandra Uddback (VP of Data Acquisition at Mapillary)

Remote teams have some real challenges; it’s harder to create and maintain a team spirit, especially if teams are stretched across multiple countries and time zones. It’s also more difficult to nurture relationships, and it takes a certain degree of trust to allow employees to work on their own in their chosen environment. But it can be done. It can be done well, and the benefits can be massive; increased productivity, wider hiring pools and contact with further-reaching markets are among them. It’s all to play for.

5. How Fortnite Was Built: Understanding the Human Psyche in UX Design

Celia Hodent (UX Consultant)

Fortnite is a true phenomenon. At its core lies an incredible awareness of what makes an engaging experience for users, and its success is evidence of this. Given its rise to the top and its now esteemed position in the industry, there’s a lot to learn from Fortnite. And who better to explain the workings behind products that get us hooked than a Celia Hodent, former Head of UX at Epic Games who also has a PhD in Psychology.

6. Daring to Take That Risk - Sujay Tyle on First Steps to Entrepreneurship

Sujay Tyle (CEO and Co-Founder of Frontier Car Group) 

Sujay Tyle’s story is special, and it's the kind of story Slush Helsinki love to give a platform to. At eleven he worked at a chemical engineering lab, at fifteen he went to Harvard (and left with a Thiel Fellowship) and at twenty-four he started his second business, Frontier Car. In 2009 he won the grand prize at the International Sustainable World Energy Olympiad, he’s been in Goldman Sachs’ top 100 intriguing entrepreneurs of 2016 and 2018 and he co-founded ReSight with his brother, a non-profit aiming to help visually-impaired people in developing countries. His steps in the world of entrepreneurship have led him on an extraordinary path.

7. SEO: What Are Your Users Looking For?

Ethan Smith (Partner at Sachi)

SEO is constantly evolving, and it’s becoming more and more focused on the audience. It’s paramount to know who they are, what their preferences are, their interests and intent. Well written, optimized content is no longer enough if it’s for the wrong audience, and genuine understanding is required to build successful SEO strategies.

8. Building for the Long Haul: Founder Story of Adyen

Pieter van der Does (Co-founder and CEO of Adyen)

The demand for quick business growth appears to only be increasing. It’s harder to keep up with a frantic pace that places more emphasis on short term results rather than long term goals. And this feels counterproductive. Can you meet those demands and build a sustainable, stable business? It is possible, but it requires some thinking.

9. Bitcoin Versus Big Brother: Financial Rights Are Human Rights

Alex Gladstein (Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation)

One thing that Slush Helsinki does so well is to bring refreshing ideas to the table that most people haven't given much thought to, and this talk is a prime example. Whilst conversations about cryptocurrencies always involve conflicting opinions, most of those criticizing them are in the privileged position of living in countries with stable financial systems. There are countless others who do not, and because of this, cryptocurrencies can offer those less fortunate more options and more freedom in systems that are frequently exploited by authoritarian regimes. It’s an important discussion to have.

10. A Moment with an Iconic Venture Capitalist: Fireside Chat with Michael Moritz

Michael Moritz (Partner at Sequoia Capital) and Mika Salmi (Partner at Lakestar)

Michael Moritz used to be a journalist, but now he’s one of the most iconic venture capitalists of recent times. Despite his unconventional route into the industry, his company has led investments in companies like Google, Yahoo!, PayPal, LinkedIn and Stripe among others in a seemingly never-ending list. If there’s one person to learn about the work of a venture capitalist, it’s him.

Next read: Kryha and blockchain agree; stop just thinking about yourself.