Slush 2021 live blog: all the latest updates from the startup conference


Oskari Saarenmaa, CEO and co-founder of Aiven, is in conversation with Eric Liaw, who sits on the board of Aiven and whose venture capital firm (IVP) co-led the recent investment round.

“We wanted to create something that makes life easier for developers; so they can focus on building applications, instead of struggling with infrastructure, ”says Saarenmaa.

The Amphitheater stage at Slush 2021 (Image credit: Avenir)

After a lunch break, we head to the Amphitheater stage to hear another Finnish unicorn: Aiven.

The open-source data cloud provider has grown rapidly since launching in 2016, recently raising a $ 60 million Series C that valued the company at $ 2 billion.

Kussi talks about the challenges of leading a technology startup that is experiencing significant and rapid growth.

“I have to make decisions every day that I don’t have the knowledge or the experience to make,” he says. “For example, how do you know what makes a great CFO during a growth phase? “

“So it’s about learning things that you don’t know and slowly building a picture of what excellence looks like.”

Kuusi also says it’s worth codifying corporate culture in writing. It’s a tough exercise, but it helps lay the essential foundation for growth.

On lessons learned the hard way, DoorDash’s Tony Xu says it’s important to consider factors that might be out of your control and build that level of caution into how you operate.

By nature, many entrepreneurs are prepared to exercise caution. But sometimes it comes down to biting them.

“Attitude has a funny way of overcoming experience. Being optimistic about problems and trying to learn tends to go a long way, ”says Miki Kuusi, CEO of Wolt.

Many startups make the mistake of looking for out-of-the-box talent, but sometimes it’s about driving growth with people wanting to do something with you for the first time, he says.

We’re back on the main stage for a panel with food delivery company Wolt, one of Finland’s last remaining unicorns. Last month, the company was bought out for $ 7 billion by U.S. on-demand delivery company DoorDash.

On greenwashing: “A lot of people try to cut corners or tell a false story when it comes to sustainability,” says Jordanova.

“Sustainability is truly a journey. We need to start thinking about the small steps we can take today, rather than what we need to do by 2030 and beyond. Greenwashing does nothing to help this process. “

In terms of practical advice startups can take to reduce emissions, Jordanova says companies should use one of the open source emissions calculators to get a general idea of ​​their impact.

Second, it is about recruiting stakeholders (employees, customers, partners, etc.) to reduce emissions intensive practices in their own lives. And finally, she says companies should tackle any internal policies / ways of working that could produce unnecessary emissions (e.g. excessive travel).

“Missing data is one of the biggest challenges businesses face,” says Jordanova, of the challenges of tracking carbon emissions.

The Plan A platform is designed to facilitate this process, centralizing data pulled from disparate ERPs and other business systems.

slush 2021

(Image credit: Avenir)

Then, a subject close to the hearts of Finns: sustainability and the fight to achieve net zero.

Lubomila Jordanova of Plan A, a company that focuses on carbon accounting, is in conversation with Mike Butcher of TechCrunch.

It is revealed that Fadell is working on a secret product, which he announces today at Slush.

“Over the years, working with all of these entrepreneurs, I’ve realized something: the only reason I’m on this stage is because someone helped me get there – mentored and believed in me. “

“But a lot of my mentors have died. This mentoring relay has been passed on to me. The only way I can give back is to give back to the community.

His new product: Build, “an unorthodox guide to making things worth doing.” Available in May 2022, the book aims to help entrepreneurs take the big leaps needed to make sweeping change.

slush 2021

(Image credit: Avenir)

Fadell takes a moment to slam the metaverse trend …

“We are interested in companies that will make a real difference.

Although Fadell is best known for the iPod and Nest, the smart thermostat, he’s now working on another company, called Future Shape.

It’s his own venture capital fund, which invests in deep tech companies that tackle tough issues that most VCs won’t touch until they become more mainstream.

The fund has more than 200 statuses in its portfolio, including an early investment in Impossible, the company behind the popular line of meatless burgers.

slush 2021

(Image credit: Avenir)

Fadell is here to talk about how to create iconic products:

“Understanding what people need or will need is essential. You have to make sure you fix a problem that people are starting to have, ”he says.

“Sometimes we were two decades ahead. But that’s not good, people have to understand the problems you’re trying to solve.”

Her advice is to stop trying to create something that impresses engineers and tech geeks. “It must give each person superpowers.”

Next: Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod and founder of Nest. He is in conversation with Michael Stothard, editor-in-chief of Thames.

Slush’s President, CEO and CEO took the stage for a brief introduction to the show.

“While the past two years have taught us to collaborate remotely, the need for human communication has not diminished,” said Miika Huttunen, CEO.

This is especially true for startups, he says, before thanking all the organizers and companies who have come together to make the in-person event possible again this year.

Well, this is unexpected. We’re getting a quick DJ set to launch Slush 2021.

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(Image credit: Avenir)

slush 2021

(Image credit: Avenir)

T-minus two minutes before the start of the opening show. The arena is crowded; TechRadar Pro had to struggle for a seat near the back.

slush 2021

(Image credit: Avenir)

Messukeskus, Helsinki’s convention center, is certainly equipped for the occasion. If only we could see where we’re going …

In 20 minutes, Slush President Mikko Mäntylä takes the stage to kick off the opening show, followed by a session on ‘Building Iconic Products’ with Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod and founder of Nest.

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