The first thing people say when I tell them I’ve been living in Finland for over 10 years is how cold it must be up there. And then come the polar bear comments. Yes, while it’s cold, we don’t have polar bears roaming the streets of Helsinki.

polar bear not in helsinki

Instead, we have promising startups to lookout for, who are making strides internationally. For the past couple of years, the Finnish startup ecosystem has risen to prominence in response to Nokia’s failings of late. Which has lead to a host of talented people being laid off and starting their own ventures.

However another major reason behind the startup culture has been the persistence and hard work of organisations such as Startup Sauna and Aalto Entrepreneurship Society. Both of whom have been organising meet ups, pitch competitions and accelerator programs to promote growth entrepreneurship. But while Helsinki has been getting a lot of attention, other notable mentions need to go out to other local organisations such as Boost Turku who are spreading the spirit in their respective regions.

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Even though Finnish gaming companies has been in the limelight recently – most notably Rovio and Supercell – Finland also has an abundance of talent in the health and clean tech industries. Both of which will be on show at this year’s Slush conference.

This week, we’ll be travelling to Helsinki Finland for the annual Slush conference. With 5000 expected to attend and 1000 startups registered, there’s certainly a lot of networking to be done.

Yet, there’s also an intriguing lineup of speakers and panels to attend and learn from. Below you’ll find my top picks of talks I’m most looking forward to attending.

7 talks not to miss at Slush 2013

1. Early investor in Supercell chats with Ilkka Paananen

Niklas Zennström (Atomico) and Ilkka Paananen (Supercell) will get together for a chat at Slush. Now, an everyday normal chat doesn’t get my fire burning. But when it’s between founders of two of my most used apps – Skype and Clash of Clash respectively – there’s a sense of duty to attend. After all, Zennström’s also currently sits on the board of Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) and Paananen just recently sold 51% of Supercell for $1.5 billion. So this chat will be anything but dull.

Clash of Clans is one of Supercell's top games

Clash of Clans is one of Supercell’s top games

2. Maximilian Niederhofer – 10 ways to become a better entrepreneur

Looking for tips on how to improve yourself as an entrepreneur? Then there’s no better person to learn from than a former entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. Maximilian Niederhofer is currently a partner at Sunstone Capital where he focuses on early stage software investments. If you’re wondering what to expect from Niederhofer, check out this interview from Silicon Real below.

3. VC Investment Terms – Tips & Pitfalls for Entrepreneurs

Let’s face it if you’re a first time entrepreneur you’ve probably haven’t negotiated a term sheet before. Torleif Ahlsand from Northzone will dive into some pitfall you should try to look out for and avoid. But will also go into some useful tips when you’re meeting with investors.

4. Nicolaj Petersen – How to get 30 million users

So how would you like to hear how Petersen managed to attract 30 million downloads with $0 spend on user acquisition. I know I’m curious and who wouldn’t be! Petersen founded his gaming company DirtyBit while still in university and has now established itself as one of Norway’s promising startups. Definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in user acquisition with little or no cost.

5. Francesco De Rubertis – Future trends in health technology

The health industry has always been a tough nut to crack. With the lengthy sales cycles, testing phases and numerous regulations, it can take quite some time for a startup to break-even fast. Despite those barriers, it’s an industry where still room for innovation.

Francesco De Rubertis will take the stage to discuss the future trends in health technology. Whose will then be followed up by a panel discussion which includes BetterDoctor’s Ari Tulla and Initial Capital’s Kristian Segerstrål, where they’ll continue the discussion and talk about the next big thing in health.

betterdoctor

6. Maximilian Claussen – Hiring the best talent

A startup without people is like a bicycle with a flat tire – you can still ride it, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Case in point, hiring the best people for your startup will not guarantee a smooth ride, but will increase your chances of reaching your end goal. And Earlybird’s Maximilan Claussen will talk about what it takes to hire those people for your startup during the Slush Pitching Competition.

7. Richard Frankel – Journey from Series A to IPO: Pivots, customers and investors

Rarely do you get to witness a speaker who’s come full circle with their business. So when you’ve got a chance to listen to somebody with the experience Frankel does – you better take it! Before co-founding Rocket Fuel, he played a huge role in growing Yahoo!’s behavioural-targeting advertising business. And was also influential in introducing customer-centric approaches to DoubleClick and NetGravity. A must-watch for anyone who’s interested in becoming more customer focused with their startup.

Bonus

Meeting awesome people and networking like crazy

Seriously what would a startup event be without the people! With 5000 people at Slush, there’s certainly not going to be a shortage of folks to meet. And there’s always going to be an opportunity to strike up a conversation and exchange ideas, so you’ll never be short on inspiration.

Are you coming to Slush 2013? Let us know what you’re most looking forward in the comments below. And to join the conversation on Twitter use the hashtag #slush13

See you in Helsinki!

Kostas Papageorgiou

Kostas specialises in content marketing and community management, who's focused on helping tech companies increase brand awareness and engagement to boost conversions.