Liveblog for ICM820 & 829: Slush 12/1

Discovery, Teaching

Content creation and team – core ingredients of success.

Suman Rath, Nordic Film, on Nordic innovation

Geographical diversity and high level of education in Europe feeds into the power of our startups. We don’t do it the American way. We do it our own way.

Tom Wehmeir, Atomico


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This is a post for the courses ICM820 – Digital Communities and ICM829 – Design Thinking (St. John’s University) on Slush, one of the largest innovation – startup conferences in the world.  I will focus on issues and insights that are relevant to a variety of fields of innovation, and to our course in particular.

The official program has begun on Thursday 11/30, will continue on 12/1, and you can livestream it via this link.

From NYT:

One of Europe’s largest startup events opened Thursday in Finland, with 2,600 companies and 1,500 investors networking and negotiating funding, as the region looks to ramp up an industry that has long struggled to compete with the tech giants of the U.S.

The two-day Slush conference in Helsinki brought in star power to promote itself, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to kick off the event as well as Britain’s Prince William.

The location of Finland is symbolic for a national and regional technology industry that has been trying to renew itself from older tech — the once-dominant handsets of Nokia Corp. — into newer ventures.

Finland has managed over the past five years to build a flourishing entrepreneurial scene, evident in the rise of gaming heavyweights Supercell — the maker of Clash of Titans among others — and the Angry Birds developer Rovio.

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Selected highlights

Re: SDGs and tech

Seth Bannon, 50 Years

  • We all want to fight for good in the society — let’s remember what the real problems are (not war but some common diseases)
  • Millenials want change; not interested in working for profit only ->
  • Business with social impact: The largest shift/disruption now.
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a great set of “wicked problems” tech businesses can tackle: They are global, they have tangible goals!




By popular demand:

Neil Parikh, Casper

  • Followed his calling: from Brown University and med school to an innovator-entrepreneur.
  • Realization that few products that concretely interact with the user are well designed. Too much choice and random (often $-driven) selling points of mattresses.
  • Pitched the idea on “one fits all, online, test for 100 days and return if not happy” 60-70 times. “You have to hit the pavement so many times before success” but “you need to be passionate about your idea and keep going.”
  • Use human-centered design: Talked to hundreds of people at the initial stage.
  • Now obsessing about research, details, for end users!




Re: our ICM829 work platform

Cal Henderson, Slack (&Flickr)

Image uploaded from iOS

  • We tried to create games but were not good doing it. Slack derived form our working culture.
  • 9 million users.
  • Slack: no longer the era of sending a file back and forth, but of working on an object in the cloud -> Slack & channels.
  • Slack culture: the most difficult and the most important issue. Both human resources (how do we keep the start-up passion going while scaling up) and users.
  • Sets us apart: we build for humans, talk to customers, do user research. We want to build something that feels very good to use. Twitter a great source for feedback.


To showcase women in tech:

Ida Tin, Clue, interviewed by Victoria Turk (Wired)

  • “Femtech” – technology for women – a great untapped market.
  • Health data = very intimate. How to build trust with users? It is an educational project.
    • Users need to see the usefulness for them and a larger impact (the latter: big and longitudinal data => new medical discoveries on how to detect, e.g., cancer and how to prevent it early on)
    • Users need to have control on what and how to share to whom “MyData”
  • There are two paths to take in trust and sensitive data:
    • People will develop “post-privacy” attitude “I don’t care, free services in exchange of my data”
    • People will demand control of their data, companies will comply and develop services that are secure; the idea of win-win.


Re: my idol Esko Kilpi

Esko Kilpi, Randy Newcomb:

Everyone Asks What’s the Next Big Thing But We Should Ask What’s the Next Good Thing


What are the most critical problems globally currently? Who has the power to solve them and which other parties should be involved? One thing is sure: the role of entrepreneurs is increasing. We have to be able to recognize that economics too is a moral system and all economic decisions are moral decisions. Entrepreneurs have to start believing in the importance of their actions:

“We had the experience but missed the meaning. And approach to the meaning restores the experience in a different form.”

― T.S. Eliot



Slush100 Pitches

2017-12-01 16.31.24Altum Technologies has won the Slush 100 Showcase of 2017.

“Altun Technologies offers a solution to clean industrial equipment without having to shut down production. They utilise ultrasound emitters to clean the inside of pipes, vats and machinery to combat the effects of fouling. This impressive solution is the only one of its kind in the world, and is set to save its users in maintenance and make up for lost production.”

Take-aways from the pitching sessions:

  • Remember to tell what the ask (e.g., $) is for.
  • Give an idea of what is happening within what time frame; what is your long-term plan. Is there a new niche to win in the future if not now?
  • What is the team about – do you have all the expertise from tech to sales? If not, how are you going about it?






Emerging common denominators:

  • User-centric, human-centric, user-first, listen to the user.

  • Obsess about quality and details, obsess about perfection.

  • Not just $, but impact.

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