Collecting Memories at Slush 2023 — An Unforgettable Journey!

Excited to share all about my experience at Slush

Ucha Vekua
Startup Adventures International
7 min readDec 19, 2023


Slush 2023 was a fantastic experience!

I mean, why else would 13,000 founders, investors, and startup enthusiasts come to Helsinki at the end of November?

While the weather was cold, roads were slushy, and the sun didn’t have its brightest week, you could totally feel awesome startup vibes all around the event venue.

Slush 2023 Opening Words

Just imagine 5,000 startup founders, 3,000 investors, and 300 media representatives coming together to build professional relationships and connect with each other — it was stunning.

Awesome speakers, captivating talks, engaging side events — I mean, this startup festival had it all!

But what was I doing there, you ask? Well, I had an opportunity to join the Slush team this year and take over the Media Side Events Team Lead volunteering role.

So, in this article, I’d like to tell you all about my experience at Slush 2023.

Let’s get to it!

First Things First, What Is Slush?

Well, Slush is a non-profit organization that is creating the world’s leading annual startup event and the largest gathering of VC in Helsinki, Finland.

Their first event happened in 2008 when they organized a startup gathering of 250 people.

Entering Slush

Fastforward to today, it has slowly transformed into one of the most exciting startup conferences in Europe, helping thousands of entrepreneurs and investors connect to each other.

The Slush team strongly believes that entrepreneurship is the most efficient way to create human progress — that’s why their mission is to create and help founders change the world.

I actually had a very interesting chat with the CEO of Slush, Eerika Savolainen, on my podcast about the organization. Check it out here.

Slush as an Organization

A particularly interesting detail about Slush is its organizational culture — besides their full-time team members, Slush offers 1,500+ volunteering roles to Team Lead, Group Lead, and On-site Volunteer positions.

Team Lead volunteers join the organization from the beginning of Fall, assisting core team members with day-to-day organizational tasks and making sure everything is going smoothly in their domain.

Each team at Slush has a certain number of team leads, depending on their needs. For example, the Media Team had 2 team leads this year — one responsible for side events and another one for the Media Area at Slush.

Selfieee with Media Team Leads

Groups Lead volunteers are recruited by Team Leads, and they are responsible for creating On-site Volunteer teams to make sure every little detail during the conference is taken care of.

I know, I know, the structure is super interesting, and I was really excited to be part of it.

My Role at Slush 2023

As I mentioned before, my role at Slush 2023 was Media Side Events Team Lead —together with the team, I was responsible for organizing official media-only side events on Day 0 and Day 1 of the conference.

My volunteering team consisted of one Group Lead and 9 Volunteers, and honestly, I could not have wished for a better squad.

Hangin’ out with the team

The team understood each other really well from the beginning, and being a manager of this team was one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had in my career — lots of fun & unforgettable memories from those days.

So, everything was ready to organize the best events for our beloved Media Representatives at Slush.

Preparations Before The Event

Obviously, preparations started long before Slush.

You know, with recruitment, and creating concepts, and talking with partners, and managing the little details, and all that jazz.

But if we talk about the event week specifically — all of the preparations were very well thought-through.

Team selfie from the venue tour

From the beginning of the week, we were able to conduct venue tours at Messukeskus (that’s where Slush 2023 happened), onboard volunteering teams for their duties, and prepare all of the small details for our concepts.

Two joyful intense prep days later, me and the team were ready to kick off Day 0 of Slush 2023 with the Media Day event.

Media Day

Alongside other media side events, my team’s main responsibility was to organize a Media Dayan exclusive media-only event at Korjaamo Culture Factory.

During the event, we had 2 very interesting panel discussion sessions with various journalists & speakers sharing their opinions about the biggest trends in tech.

Panel discussion during the Media Day event

I had an opportunity to be a host of that event and welcome all the guests from the stage — totally loved the experience!

After panel discussion sessions, we had a networking part — a perfect time for journalists to relax, have a few drinks and tapas, and connect with other media pros.

You could feel the excitement from the crowd about the upcoming event. Journalists were eager to connect and build professional relationships with each other.

All in all, organizing and hosting a Media Day event was a fantastic experience for me and the team.

And then the next day, Slush started…

Stage Talks & Networking

I still remember walking into the venue at 9 am on the 30th of November — you could feel the startup vibes in every little corner.

Imagine a place with 4 different massive stages, meeting areas, and tons of startup booths trying to showcase their products. It was fascinating to see 13,000+ people wandering around the venue.

Stage talk with TNW

All of the stages had their own themes — we had Founder Stage, Horizon Stage, Builder Stage, and Startup Studio.

The talks I particularly enjoyed were:

  • Fundraising For Deep Tech with David Berry
  • Creating a Brand with Rahul Vohra
  • The Future of Creativity Online

I actually hosted one of the Speaker Q&A sessions as well after their talk, which gave me a great experience as a host.

Besides stage talks, the networking part was very well taken care of as well.

Every participant had access to the Slush Matchmaking tool, where participants could go and search for other attendees they wanted to connect with.

Matchmaking area

The app allowed them to send out messages and invitations for 1:1 meetings in the networking hall of the event.

Pretty easy and straightforward.

So, I used this opportunity to find new, exciting startup companies and organizations. They told me some interesting stories, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

My Top Highlights From The Event

Other than stage talks, networking, and side events, there were lots of other activities going on at Slush. Here are some of my top highlights:


Slush had this absolutely fabulous karaoke event during the after-party. One of their stages was transformed into a karaoke stage, where we had an opportunity to sing our hearts out in front of tons of people.

Me Karaoke-ing:)

Of course, I took a chance and performed there as well. An absolutely unforgettable experience, I must say.

Startup PR-actice

This was one of the side events that my team and I had put together. It’s basically a speed dating event for startups and top-tier journalists.

It was very interesting to see so many early-stage founders passionately pitching their stories to journalists. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event, and it had some good outcomes.

Press Q&A Sessions

We had a couple of Q&A sessions in the media area. This is where startup founders could present their products in front of media representatives.

I had a chance to attend a couple of them and ask questions about their challenges, vision, and future plans — it was a great experience as a journalist. Can’t wait for the next one:)

To Sum up…

I’d like to thank the Slush team for giving me an opportunity to join them and experience how the world’s biggest startup event is being organized behind the scenes. These learnings & takeaways are really valuable for me.

Thanks to Slush, I managed to connect with awesome people, test myself as a stage host, and gain important experience in the field I’m passionate about — Media Communications.

Can’t wait for the next year!

Ucha Vekua

Slush 2023



Ucha Vekua
Startup Adventures International

A Creative Mind — Sharing my experiences and Startup Adventures 🚀