Slush 2018: “Tech is the brightest hope for the stalling European Economy”

As always, our time at Slush, the world’s largest start-up event gave us a great insight into the latest developments in the tech industry, all against a backdrop of electro music, dry ice and flashing lights!

Day one for us included a great conversation between Julia Hartz CEO of Eventbrite and Harry Stebbings – known for The Twenty Minute VC.

When answering the question “What makes a successful entrepreneur”, Julia’s  answer was strong conviction delicately balanced with the ability to listen and being comfortable toggling between these two realities.  We should “get really comfortable with failure” and remain “always hungry”, strong conviction counts.

She also talked about the run up to the IPO and her three objectives. 1) everyone knows that preparing for an IPO is a huge time-eater, Eventbrite’s objective was to extract serious value from the process.  So, if it were to be “extractive of time”, then they wanted to extract serious value. She talked about the F-1 and that being forced to take a step back, put pen to paper regarding their mission and principles turned out to be a very valuable exercise. 2) on her list was to bring in exceptional investors and 3) was to continue to put customers first.

And the one key thing that is the secret to success? Being completely resilient and with a singular focus on the mission.

Then there was the presentation from Tom Wehmeier of Atomico on 2018’s “The State of European Tech”, whose slide provides the title of this post. It always surprises us when ‘diversity & inclusion’ seems to falter at the first stumbling block of the male/female divide – apparently 93% of all funds raised by European VC-backed companies went to all-male founding teams in 2018. 46% of women reported that they have experienced discrimination in the European tech sector.

So no wonder that he chose the message ‘Diversity and Inclusion: Wake the F*** Up!’ on his last slide, on the grounds that people remember the last thing you say.

Obviously we come to events like Slush with our ‘PR heads’ on, thinking about brand, marketing and storytelling, so it was great to hear so many messages that ran true in a talk with Natasha Lytton, Head of Marketing and Comms at Seedcamp, Sophia Bendz, Partner at Atomico (and formerly the first non-technical hire at Spotify) and Arnd Mueller, VP Marketing at aviation startup Lilium.

Key takeaways included:

  1. Many startups are very tech and product driven, and don’t realise how important it is to build a brand. This should be a key priority.
  2. Most people think of brand just as advertising, but there is so much more to it. Your brand is the overall ‘personality’ of your business and the perception that customers have about your product or service.
  3. Your product will always evolve, which is fine, but your purpose should remain the same.
  4. Be crystal clear on the value you bring to the customer – what makes the product so valuable to them? Don’t try to be a storyteller without having a story!
  5. Building a brand takes time, passion and constant repetition of messaging across all channels.