Slush 2015, notes from the event

Nov 15, 2015

As I am on the flight back from Finland, where I just spent three days attending Slush 2015, sounds about the right time for putting down a few notes about my experience during the event, and taking the opportunity to thank all the people who made this possible.

Missione Italia (Mission from Italy)

First of all, let me say that I am extremely happy about Missione Italia, a further proof that bottom-up, execution- and passion- driven organisation of something great is possible.

The idea of bringing together a group of great people to attend a major european event was born out of a random conversation with Thalita Malagò, secretary general of AESVI, wondering how to support independent gaming studios from Italy in getting in touch with investors, partners and other relevant operators. We decided to attend a major European event, and Slush was the perfect target for AESVI’s associates.

A couple of additional conversations brought together a great coordinator based in Finland (who eventually created and put together the Missione Italia brand), an extended group of Italian investors and startups, and finally the Italian Ambassador in Finland, who supported (and sponsored!!) this group comprised of 16 startups and a bunch of investors and other operators, all together under the same roof.

We planted the seed of something here, more things to come!

The venue, the organisation, the feeling

I have not been around in the last 18 months (and by “around” I mean outside of Italy), but several friends, colleagues and contacts have, bringing back mixed feedbacks from the ecosystem events that have sprung up all over Europe. Slush was a pleasant surprise, and I was hit by these numbers in particular:

  1. 15.000 attendees (in an almost perfect location for a crowd this size). Not as many as other events, but a very numerous attendance nonetheless.
  2. 1.700 startups
  3. 800 investors
  4. 1.500 volunteers from 50 countries (1 volunteer for every 10 attendees!), most of them from university (or even high school).

A few things I loved: wide halls, plenty of space, interesting speakers (but I can’t say I was amazed by every single presentation). Moreover, great networking opportunities - if you plan to attend next time, be aware that you need the stomach to continuously talk to people in 15’ streaks.

For sure, it was great getting to listen to investors such as Niklas Zennström, founders such as Maximo Cavezzani, and so on.

A few quotes

David Tang, managing partner of Nokia Growth Partners, described his (very quotable) framework for explaining what a venture capital investor looks for in an investment candidate. He called it the “4Ps of Venture Capital” (from a guy coming from marketing, this is kind of an obvious pun):

  1. People (i.e. are you a great team?)
  2. Pain Point (what’s the problem you are tackling - hard pain, moderate pain, superficial pain…)
  3. Proof Point (What did you achieve so far in your effort to solve the pain point? etc..)
  4. Potential (How big is the opportunity)

There was big talk about the usual themes (where are unicorns coming from in the next 5 to 10 years? Answers were ranging from IoT to self-driving cars to digital health). Nothing really new under the sky of innovation (at least from a 30.000 feet point of view).

Another great quotable line, and something we should really think about, was made by Tom Hulme (partner @ Google Ventures): “We are as good or as bad as the questions we ask. If we ask how to be Silicon Valley, we are doomed to be a second rate version.”

Final Thanks

My special thanks for this opportunity go to Thalita Malaga and AESVI, for leaving their comfort zone and believing in trying new things, to the Italian Ambassador in Finland and his staff, for how much they supported us, to Paolo Borella and Vertical Accelerator, the pivot that made all of this possible, to Stefano Alberico, the glue putting all of us together, to the 16 entrepreneurial teams attending the event (best of luck, all of you, you are heading towards great things!). Finally, thank you to all the other friends we met in Finland (the Missione Italia team could have easily been double the size). Looking forward to the next one, folks!

NicoMy name's Niccolò Sanarico.

I am an Oxford MBA and a software engineer with a passion for innovation and startups. Still playing around with code. I currently work with Primomiglio SGR SpA, a venture capital firm based in Italy, previously in dpixel. Everything you can find here is my opinion alone. You can follow me on Twitter. Find more about me on Linkedin.