jyrki karvinen


Slush 2008 in my memories

What two things do November 2008 and 2023 have in common: There is snow and Slush in Helsinki.

Indeed, it was 15 years ago when I entered the event center Korjaamo founded by Raoul Grünstein in Töölö to marvel at a new event called Slush. I knew Peter Vesterbacka from the people behind it, but not the others, and I was more interested in my friend’s new center than a group of startup entrepreneurs.

I remember a small number of stands from the event, maybe a good 10 and a couple of hundred participants. Despite the enthusiastic atmosphere, I didn’t predict any great future for the event at the time, and at that very moment the reason was clear: the financial crisis and the related many shocking events in the same year just before Slush.

In the spring of 2008, Lehman Brothers and UBS bank announced their total credit loss estimates in the billions. The share price decline began in May 2008 and culminated in a sharp crash on the US New York Wall Street stock exchange on Monday evening September 29, 2008. The police busted Bernard Madoff, the former head of the Nasdaq technology exchange, at the same time as Slush. Investors had lost $50 billion in the scam developed by Madoff.

Slush and later, among other things, the Nordic Business Forum have shown that Finns are surprisingly good organizers of events. It may be due to our “Talkoo” tradition. In it, the guys help their friend in something (initially in agriculture to harvest the crops) and then again he/she helps his/her helpers. And it’s probably not a mistake if you add the famous Finnish Sisu to that, which means willpower even on an inhuman level.

But a large dying body also helped Slush forward. As a sign of this, in 2010, in the middle of the financial crisis, Nokia’s new CEO Stephen Elop warned in the Burning Platform speech about the risks facing large companies, while the Bridge program launched by Nokia laid the foundation for a new entrepreneurial mindset, which gave birth to a wave of startups in Finland and a few years later also made Slush a global success.

Slush, which will be held again in snowy Helsinki in 2023, is facing a serious situation, as startup funding has collapsed in Finland this year from last year’s record figure of 1.7 billion euros. It is clear that better things will not happen quickly with traditional means, but do we have to settle for traditional means? It isn’t, as it wasn’t in 2008 when Slush was launched. Now completely new green ideas are needed again.