Greetings from SLUSH!

SLUSH 2015 is over now. Lots of good meetings, friends, business acquintances, former colleagues, great presentations, panel discussions, ideas and companies. Companies, not start-ups? Yes, companies. This year, the number of large companies attending the event had visibly boomed. Did SLUSH just evolve from a start-up event to a massive marketing conference for large companies? This year, there were 1 700 start-ups in the event compared to a total of 15 000 other participants.

All in all, there were very good presentations also this year – often held by internationally leading experts in their field. Here’s a brief summary of some of the most exciting ones.

FINTECH (financial technology) popping up

The presentation series on FINTECH (financial technology) was an eye-opener for many. The previously very traditionally operating financial sector today faces competition from multiple fronts, especially from small, disruptive fintech companies, which are renewing the old types of business models, and thus providing customers more efficient and also more inexpensive services. It was said that even 50% of current retail banking business profits are expected to be disrupted in the near future. No wonder that multiple FINTECH start-ups are currently popping up – in all over the world.

“We are all born babies, not leaders”

Extremely exciting presentation was about leadership by Mårten Mickos, one of the most well-known Finns of Silicon Valley with a long career in both start-ups and corporations. His recently established leadership academy “School of Herring” focuses on leadership. Mickos said that a leader should always talk about “we’s” not “I’s”, as only together the employees form the power that leads the organization in the desired direction, like a school of fish. He added that one of most important tasks for a leader is not to speak, but to LISTEN. By listening you hear the things you need to hear in the organization. The third important thing is to ASK questions. Ask your employees what needs to be done in certain situation. Encourage ideas – the organization will know what needs to be done.

Timing is the most important thing in success

Caterina Fake, a co-founder of Flickr, talked about her entrepreneurial career that started already years ago. She spoke about the ups and downs of her entrepreneurial life, also the difficulties that she had faced during the years – despite the global success following Flickr, it has not always been easy for her, either. Successful entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley requires time, sweat, work, determination, right timing – and most importantly, passion. “Your company needs to be the first you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about when getting to sleep”, she said. In America, working hours are typically much longer than in Europe, and of course no one takes a whole July off as here in Finland, however, instead of the hours the most important thing is to spend time on the right things. She also revealed her investment philosophy: she seeks to invest in companies where “humanity is not lost in technicality”.

Thanks Aaltoes and all for the great event, CU next year!