The Rise of Well-Being techs — SLUSH experience as a French VC

Fires on stage, dark atmosphere, cloudy aurora borealis landscape aside, …and shiny lecturers, so many tech entrepreneurs and committed enthousiasts everywhere. Not a single dustbin, for this 17 000-attendees conference, but « raw materials containers » with friendly guidance. I spent 2 days into this eco-friendly (huge) tech conference, set in Finland last week, SLUSH ; and I am eager to join the 2017 edition session so far.

Welcoming banner, badass :)

The Kings of the North had really set a solid tech event, thanks to the commitment of hundreds of volunteers (& maybe thanks to Nokia which had let so many unemployed geeks in Helsinki, apparently turned into innovative great entrepreneurs now).

Along this crazy atmosphere, I met dozens of startups, VCs and accelerators, and I noticed a kind of main common point, a link with the Well Being field … As a tech VC at XAnge, focused on the Impact techs, I think Helsinki techs really embodied this specific nordic culture of Well Being last week, let me explain you how.

Healthcare & Health Access were huge topics at SLUSH. SiVIew (Go Frenchtech !) makes optical diagnostics to bring efficiency to ophtalmology appointments. The metrics of this market are surprising and really dependent on every Health system. An interesting South-African startup, Kgoshikadi, launches fair-trade sanitary napkins to empower women : distributing affordable napkins, it allows girls to go to school during all year (vs. they didn’t use to attend school during their menstruations before). For sure, the impact assessment of this African innovation may trigger a high «outcome» .

“Redesigning Death” conference

Many startups implement apps or tech solutions to connect remote villages to doctors in Emerging countries, and various Nordic SMBs presented products for the Silver Economy concerns (including human-centric IoT and data-driven specific services . Regarding the Silver economy, I attended a rare presentation about « Redesigning (your life regarding) Death » . One of the concern described was: how to include your own « digital assets » into your legacy «plan»; what is the new «roadmap» to anticipate your End ? using tech words to handle such a topic was an audacious choice. It was actually underlying the rise of stakes for the Old to be old during a longer period.

Menstruations, Death,.. yes, this article is quite unconventional (and it’s not over!), so was SLUSH.

The main discovery I made about tasty food and healthy lifestyle (which is not always the same, you know what I mean) was this woman speaking on stage about her innovation, using Oat proteins : Gold&Green Foods . And it is really tasty actually. Finnish people are so amazed by her products that several startups grew to localize « where can I get my Oat portion ? ». Creating a whole startups ecosystem about a single food offer is really astonishing. I couldn’t imagine a Nordic crowd of oat-eaters so far.

Many startups proposed Sports experiences, maybe because in the North, it’s too cold to do sports outside so you have to play video games at home to stay slim ( this is a cliché, geeks are geeks) . « I am a Pokemon Go player so I make Sport » said a speaker about tech ethics. VR experiments were everywhere, enabling everyone to travel, run or dance anonymously… (see the gif)

VR dance experience (could be at SLUSH)

Then, I discovered some Beautytech startups, and some Chinese VCs really impressed by the French innovations in this field. Except Scentys (innovative perfume spread technology) within our 85+ European startups portfolio we did not invest into many beautytechs for the while, though. For example, at SLUSH, Wired Beauty presented its range of beauty masks with sensors to improve your skin health, against sun or drought troubles.

Furthermore, I met several pet care startups at SLUSH addressing this growing European market with innovative models: BtoC, BtoBtoC or different kinds of BtoB models and creative partnerships (with insurance…)

The award of the “most strange speech” is for a … a sextech pitch I saw on the Green Stage. Presenting a photo of a sexy robot, the speaker said « honestly who would have sex with it, if no one else could know it ? » . Weirdo. So many brave(?) hands raised. So Weirdo. She went on about the quality of the product and its potential threats for society structures like matrimony… and she ended with this crazy question « what do you think : Will we f**k robots … or will robots f**k us all ? » …

This quotation will be my final freaky word to describe my SLUSH 2016 experience.

NB. no photo for the Sextech part _ but you can click on our XAnge website to discover our sexy startups:)