Our Trip to HEL — A practical guide on how to survive Slush

Janos Pauer
Feb 11, 2019 · 5 min read

This year we went to Finland at the darkest time of the year for a one-of-a-kind conference experience at Slush. If you ever decide to go, this blog post should be your prep reading. Enjoy!

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This December, the Athena team went on a trip to Helsinki, Finland to demo our software product — startup style.

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s a Slush?

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Slush, also called slush ice, is a slurry mixture of small ice crystals (e.g., snow) and liquid water.

The very core mission of Slush is to facilitate founder and investor meetings and to build a worldwide startup community. Slush is a student-driven, non-profit movement originally founded to change attitudes toward entrepreneurship.

They’ve come a long way since 2008, growing from 300 to a solid 20.000 attendees in Helsinki alone and now also expanding to Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore. With thousands of startups and investors present, it’s an incredible opportunity for networking you just can’t miss.

So now that you’ve applied for a startup demo booth or bought your ticket, some things you should keep in mind to make your stay a success without breaking the bank:

Travel Light

Your area will be very strategically located to give you optimum exposure to the most relevant crowd, but it’s strictly 2×2 m so really think about what you need to accomplish and what you absolutely need to get it done.

Our goal was to show off our VR prototyping tool Athena with a mixed reality setup and to find strategic partners from the automotive industry.

Since our original seat is huge compared to our assigned lot we opted instead to buy some nice benches on location, which made for a sleek, flexible and lean setup that we’ll continue to use on the road even after this. Add a roll-up that clearly communicates your mission and why you’re there and you’ve got yourself an effective and good-looking booth that’ll still fit in an Uber or DriveNow car.

Make Economic Decisions

The meals served at the food court are great and each stand even has a vegetarian option, but there’s only one meal included for the day you get your booth so consider packing a few snacks. It’s always fun to explore foreign supermarkets!

If you’re from outside the EU or need extra mobile data for another reason (our Airbnb didn’t have WiFi!) you can grab a prepaid SIM card from any kiosk that’ll give you practically unlimited internet for under a Euro a day.

The conference pass comes with a free ticket for public transportation. Use it! It’s part of an extensive and certified sustainability campaign that also includes thorough waste management, biodegradable disposables and banning bottled water.

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There are dedicated volunteers to help you find the right fit for your trash.

A global gathering of 20,000 tech-heads doesn’t come together without a few flights, planks of wood and a whole lot of food, drinks and good times. Carbon emissions make up a big portion of our environmental impact, which is why in 2018 Slush is offsetting 10,000 tonnes of CO2 with the help of Fortum. These offsets cover at least the emissions from the Slush event, our attendees’ flights, hotel stays, and meals, as well as Slush’s year-round activities.

XR is Big and Trending

Focus on the Interactive Parts

You don’t have to worry about the layout of the venue ahead of time either, everything is colour-coded as part of their beautiful lighting design, including meeting areas in the form of literal light-pillars stretching from floor to ceiling.

While you’re rocking your own demo booth, make sure you give off an inviting vibe, keep hands-on demos at a consistent and practical duration and make sure you filter your encounters by relevance: Ask what they do, then adjust the level of detail of your pitch accordingly. If they seem promising, make sure they’ll remember you and follow up ASAP.

Get your Vitamin D

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Sunlight is scarce in the Nordic winter

While the medical community may be torn over the alleged health risks or benefits of vitamin D supplements, you’ll have to come up with some kind of strategy because chances are, you just won’t see any natural light at all. With a pitch black sky before and after conference hours and a very dark interior, those who suffer from SAD to the slightest degree will want to make sure their Airbnb comes equipped with a daylight lamp and get their feel-good playlist ready.


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