It’s that time of year again. As the weather turns grey and dreary in Finland, we are once again gearing up to go startup crazy. The aptly-named Slush is a two-day startup event with a single purpose – to connect entrepreneurs with top-tier investors, corporate execs and media. This year, a remarkable ten thousand people will brave the slushy streets of Helsinki to attend the event. Since its humble beginnings in 2008 with 300 participants, Slush is now one of the largest events in the Nordics and attracts attention the world over.
For me, Slush is a celebration of entrepreneurship. A great excuse to take a moment and learn from the entrepreneurs amongst us – and to celebrate them. Hail ye job creators, innovators, lives-changers, society transformers!
Where else can you meet rock stars such as Ilkka Paananen, Supercell co-founder – of Clash of Clans fame – who sold 51% of his company last year for $1.5 billion, or Sami Inkinen, co-founder of online real estate marketplace Trulia, which is currently being acquired for $3.5 billion?
Or maybe the excitement is brushing shoulders with stars-in-the-making? Folks like Omoniyi Olawale, founder of IroFit, who has figured out how to enable mobile point-of-sale transactions in areas where Internet connectivity is spotty or non-existent, or Mario Aguilera, founder of Tespack, makers of beautifully designed solar-powered bags, which allow you to keep your devices charged at all times.
Slush is also a reminder of the sweeping cultural change in attitude that has recently taken place in Finland. A decade ago, starting and running your own business was what you did if you couldn’t get a “real job”. Nowadays, it’s what all the kids want to do – right up there with teachers, pop singers and ice hockey players.
Even my own 12 year old is brimming with excitement for entrepreneurship. Her sixth-grade class just completed Me & MyCity, an award-winning educational concept, which gives kids an immersive experience of entrepreneurship, the economy and society. (As a result, she’ll be opening her very own chocolate-covered frozen banana stand in our backyard during an upcoming Restaurant Day, a food carnival when anyone can open a restaurant for a day.)
Perhaps I too can be more like the entrepreneurs I admire. I don’t have to do what they do, but I can act more like they act. Successful entrepreneurs are tenacious, passionate and visionary. They tolerate the unknown, believe in themselves and are flexible. And finally, my personal favorite, entrepreneurs need to be willing to fall down and get right up, only to fall down and get up again.
We can’t all be entrepreneurs. Nor should we. But we can all be more entrepreneurial. See you at Slush!
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