Slush Exciting, Noisy, but Not Sustainable

Along with 25 000 other people your correspondent attended Slush 2019 in Helsinki.

It was again the same dizzy and extravagant show that splashes money around for disco party effects with lights, loud music and BIG speakers:

  • It invites a few lucky millionaires to brag about how they made their first million or make fools of themselves to the thousands of young onlookers who all want to live the dream of being rich and even richer… 
  • … there are also men & women from small start-ups who try hard to catch your eye so they can explain that their innovation will disrupt every incumbent, but seldom does…
  • … and the serious managers and politicians swoop in and out to prove they are “in touch”, but aren’t really… 
  • … and bankers and the BIG4 are also prowling about waiting to catch the next big thing as a client…
  • … Google, Microsoft, Huawei and Samsung were also present to show off their wares… 
  • …and this time the foreign competitors showed up from India, China, Taiwan, Moscow, Tallinn, Ireland, France, and Korea (South, not North…) to see why the Finns are doing this so well!

Somebody said that Slush is important because it shows young people the importance of being an entrepreneur. That is clearly one excellent point in its favour, but the real importance of Slush is that it shows  you that you cannot succeed without a good education and hard work. Competition is so tough because there are thousands out there all chasing the next holy grail.

Success needs knowledge and skills and it cannot be built solely on ambition or good luck. 

The more important question is why is Finland’s Slush so successful? The answer to that question is undoubtably because young Finns have enjoyed the fruits of a great educational system that works well. It is free and gives most young people an equal opportunity to succeed. 

But another important reason is that young Finns now have access to infinite opportunities in the global markets because of the internet. Unlike 20 years ago, they are no longer bounded by the constraints of our tiny domestic market. They are well educated and have great language abilities.

Even though a great success, Slush has some big drawbacks.

  • Not a word of criticism was made about the damage to society from the gig economy.
  • Nor did anyone speak up about the ruthless monopoly-like business models of Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
  • The event is a two day consumer feast of excesses. Porsche imported big sport gas guzzlers from Germany for the show and piles of rubbish filed the bins… hotel rooms were selling a three times the normal prices, and so on… life on this planet is better served by more careful use of resources.

Slush needs to change the narrative and become sustainable. It should not be just a two day mega event but a continuous effort supported by us the taxpayers and companies to expand and diversify our export base and stop operating a mad hyper-active event generates piles of trash in a room of disco lights and noise. 

We need a sustainable permanent Slush for Spring, Summer and Autumn as well as for winter. 

Big bold lasers lights, drums and dancing are so out – the real money is in hard work, quiet meetings where discussion, ideas and innovations are developed.

BTW – the best presentation was from Lilium – they make such lovely flying taxis…and the best news was that Station F in Paris is much smaller than Maria01 in Helsinki.

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