Marketing belief in the future at Slush
Growth entrepreneurship is closer to civic participation
A majority of start-ups fail but the legend is so strong, the reward for success so immense and the popstar-like adoration for entrepreneurs so desirable that many youths are tempted to start their own business. Amidst the grim social discussion in Finland, there is Slush creating a positive image of the future with its start-up phenomenon and striving to liven up the slushy November Helsinki. (pun intended – November in Helsinki is not very nice)
During the two-day event, there were 17 500 visitors from 120 different countries as well as 2300 companies presenting themselves and collecting funding from 1100 investors. When the successful entrepreneurs are like stars and celebrities, the event itself resembles more like a festival than business.
Companies in the society
Open borders, basic income, transhumanism, the future of nursing, sex robots, the world after capital. Even in Slush social themes were widely discussed.
“We have to wait for the corporatism to die and a new generation to solve Finland’s problems.”
Peter Vesterbacka, a co-founder of Slush, sees similarities in civic participation and growth entrepreneurship, for “every start-up entrepreneur’s aim is to change the world.” From Vesterbacka’s views it is clear that the Slush’s belief in the future is firmly based on creating new markets.
„Yesterday I spoke in National People’s Congress of how education changes the world. Education can also be business though, and that is alright“, says Vesterbacka.
His latest project is promoting a tunnel from Helsinki to Tallinn with Chinese investors as “a part of a new Silk road” which he believes will be completed in 2024. The schedule has calmed down since summer when he was “waking people up” by talking about the tunnel opening in 2020.
Belief in the future is still strong, however, and Vesterbacka ensures the venture is proceeding swiftly. As a result of the tunnel there already is a “start-up neighbourhood” being planned. What remains to be seen is whether the venture will live on solely in virtual reality where it is currently presented or will the grand plans come to pass.
Entrepreneurship as cultural revolution
Despite the current situation where Brexit is tearing Europe apart and the United States’ president wants a wall between their country and Mexico, the discussion on breaking boundaries sends a strong message. (didn’t specify what message)
— Peter Vesterbacka (@pvesterbacka) August 12, 2017
„Others are building walls, the Chinese did that a few thousand years ago. Nowadays we are building tunnels and bringing people together, connecting people, like Nokia always said“, Vesterbacka quips.
The goal of cultural revolution of entrepreneurship Peter Vesterbracka mentioned is visible in the almost childlike eagerness entrepreneurs are “pitching their products with,” they can cast dark economic forecasts aside and look into the future.
According to Vesterbracka, this revolution can be seen in how nearly half of the students visiting his events want to start their own company whereas in 2007 only a few hands rose in the classroom when asked.
Revolutions are also about getting things done without having interest groups slowing you down.
„In Finland, people have always known how to build conflicts but that is a waste of time. We have to wait for the corporatism to die and a new generation to solve Finland’s problems“, says Vesterbracka.
In his opinion, there are no other alternatives because both the trade unions and industrial organisations have far too locked positions.
Vesterbracka refuses to comment on daily politics, however, the current government is “just like any other government,” not any particularly good or bad.
Application to help in electioneering
There is a long way from Vesterbracka’s world of enthusiastic doing and entrepreneurship being instrumental in solving problems to the hard labour of daily politics where one often faces more problems than solutions.
Nonetheless, hard labour in daily politics can sometimes result in a start-up. Sebastian Müller recounts becoming frustrated while doing electioneering in Freiburg, a city of 200 000 inhabitants in Germany.
„We distribute posters in profusion and coordinating them is always a challenge. With my app, we can mark the distribution places on a map and make notes about them.“
Müller hopes that the app can benefit others in politics as well and intends to market it in party meetings across Germany under the next elections.
In the future, he plans to market his app to commercial advertisement distributors as well as organisers of cultural events to get back the money he invested in it.
Quite quotidian amidst changing the world.