By @SimonCocking. Great interview with the dynamic Marianne Vikkula Slush Helsinki CEO 

Thanks for having us over, we were impressed, and felt the event went well, how do you feel the 2016 version of Slush Helsinki went?

We had a blast! Many things got improved from 2015, yet many ideas sprung to start working with right away for 2017.

Ice and fire, Slush 2016 kicks off successfully

The event has grown in size each year, what are your thoughts on what it might look like in the future?

The growth has been fairly moderate throughout the past two years from 14k in 2014 to 17k this year. We have no intentions to significantly grow the size. Our aim after all is not to be the biggest, we want to be able to bring most relevant people together and meet with each other.

How does / will the other Slush global events fit into the Slush ecosystem?

In 2016 we had three major global events in addition to Helsinki: Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai. All of these events and communities are run by locals with a similar non-profit mindset as we have in Helsinki. These communities are focusing on helping to solve the challenges that the entrepreneurs in the region face. For example, in Tokyo the main focus has been around changing the attitudes towards entrepreneurship whereas in Singapore it’s been more about building a a grassroots community.

As CEO of Slush what is your role?

My time mostly goes to being there and showing the right direction to our team in Helsinki as well as aligning with the global events.

With so many volunteers involved, which is awesome, how do you manage that side of things now that the event has grown?

This year we had more than 2300 people volunteering which is definitively a management challenge itself already! We have more than 60 team leaders who all recruit 5-10 group leaders who then again recruit 5-10 volunteers into their teams.

Some startups have explained how they feel Slush offers good value in terms of access to investors and mentors, how do you guys work to achieve these positive benefits for attendees?

The core service is our online matchmaking tool. The attending startups can request meetings with attending investors, media and execs. This year we had 200 tables in use with full capacity at most of the times.

SLUSH in Helsinki – The most founder focused event in Europe!

What were your highlights from last week?

Standing at the Helsinki airport runway when the charter flight from SFO landed and we organized this 10-meter-high burning Slush logo to greet them. It’s been a really long project and as first timers in the aviation industry we learned a ton along the way.

When do you start thinking about 2017, and how might it be different?

First ideas and plans have started already before the 2016 event happened. I think that the focus will be more and more on the entrepreneurs and founders who are coming to the events and creating even more relevant encounters for them during their stay.

You need to make the mistakes, they create the greatest stories and learning experiences. Timo Ahopelto entrepreneur and Slush organiser


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking