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Startup Team Fukuoka @ Slush

Missed out on Slush 2017? Here’s what happened!

Startup Team Fukuoka @ Slush

5 min read

Alexa Huth

Writer/Editor for Fukuoka City

Alexa is a communications specialist currently living and working in Fukuoka, Japan.

Click here to find out more about Alexa.

Startup Team Fukuoka was really excited to exhibit at such an amazing venue. Since there is an MoU between Fukuoka city and Helsinki city, the stunning Finnish capital has always been one of the team’s favorite places to visit. This year, they were especially thrilled to be able to bring Fukuoka startups to experience all that Helsinki has to offer. As you may have read in previous newsletter editions, Good Luck 3, WASOMI, Groovenauts, Qurate, and heimo all attended Slush to represent Fukuoka as Startup Team Fukuoka.

A steady stream of visitors stopped by the booth to chat with Fukuoka’s founders. People were thrilled to be able to try out WASOMI’s innovative kimono design and potentially bring it back to places like Taiwan and the USA. There was also a lot of buzz surrounding Good Luck 3, whose team as able to talk to the International Game Developers Association (IDGA) Finland.

Day two of the event ushered in the pitch battle organized by Startup Team Fukuoka. The event gave European founders who are interested in starting up in Fukuoka a chance to pitch their ideas alongside some of Fukuoka’s premier startups. Of course, seeing as the event was organized by Fukuoka, there were two separate awards to ensure there were incentives for each group pitching. Speedhire won the Fukuoka Award for the best European startup pitch at the event, while Groovenauts won the Helsinki City award for the best pitch given by a Fukuoka startup at the contest. Groovenauts was given a ticket to Slush next year as well as a pass for NewCo Helsinki. This prize was made possible because of the MoU and support that Helsinki city provides to Fukuoka’s startups.

Working with Helsinki City

As noted before, the ties between Fukuoka city and Helsinki city are strong. During the visit, the team visited Helsinki City Hall and the startup support bases of NewCo and Maria 01 in the days leading up to Slush. The team was also lucky to hear a great talk on Europe’s startup environment given by NewCo’s mentor, Luca. Much like Fukuoka, Helsinki’s startup scene is very compact and tight-knit. Startup Team Fukuoka was truly inspired by how environmentally and health-focused Europe’s tech startups are currently. Their drive to make the world a better place is truly evident.

An Impressive Event

The team’s first impression of Slush Helsinki 2017 was that the venue was huge. There was a rock concert-like atmosphere with lasers and spotlights sweeping over attendees as the event began. This upbeat and unique vibe was carried throughout the entire conference giving off an electric atmosphere that made everything even more exciting.

The 300 booths were manned by not just startups but also leading global companies. Industry trailblazers were drawn to Slush, with companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM, Nokia in attendance. Tesla even exhibited their newest model. These captains of industry did not overshadow the startups, however, and instead were incredibly supportive of the new companies and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. It was wonderful seeing what technology will be disrupting the market in the future. The team was especially impressed with a Helsinki-based startup’s VR exhibition. They reproduced Helsinki’s cityscape in immaculate detail. All reports agree that it was hard to distinguish the world through the glasses from the real thing!

Amazing Speakers

One of the highlights of Slush was the high-profile speakers they were able to bring in to share thoughts and ideas on the future of startups (and just the future in general). Former US Vice President Al Gore gave a brilliant speech where he discussed how future technologies can help to confront climate change. It’s always important to remember the impact that startups can have on environmental issues that concern our world today, and he summed that up perfectly.

The team was also impressed by a number of the other speakers at Slush. Mark Pincus, CEO of social gaming company Zynga shared his views on the direction that the mobile and social gaming industry will take as it advances. Salesforce Ventures’ VP, Matthew Garratt, gave such a popular talk about the progression of VC and CVC over the past decade that the presentation had to be repeated to accommodate the demand. These talks are incredibly valuable not just to inform, but also to inspire the next generation of startups and all of the budding entrepreneurs in attendance.

Idea Pitches

Pitch contests are a popular way for entrepreneurs to share their ideas and possibly win some great prizes. At the “Slush 100 Showcase” pitch tournament, 100 companies pitched their ideas (the name is a bit of a giveaway). Finland’s own Altum Technologie won the championship prize for their startup that allows industrial equipment to be cleaned without needing to be stopped. Their prize pack came with great rewards from a range of companies including tickets to Slush 2018, airline tickets from Finnair, consulting services from PwC, and development service support from Google.

Looking Forward

There will certainly be lasting positive impacts from Slush. The event gave every attendee a direct way to interact with leaders in the field and network with the people who could potentially shape the futures of their businesses. The most impressive thing is how seamlessly the startup world melds with established industry leaders. Startup Team Fukuoka members could casually raise a toast to the event alongside Slack’s CTO, listen to former Vice President Gore’s speech, and collaborate with Helsinki’s startup team – all in a matter of days.

The team can’t wait for another great Slush event in 2018!