Network till you drop! Vicky from Mbeya Living Lab @Slush2015

Slush is the best event anyone with a heartbeat can attend!

Hi all my name is Vick John Vigero and I am here to tell you about my Slush 2015.

vicky_1

Slush experience was beyond amazing and all I want you to know is you do not have to be intimidated by the huge number of people who are going to be there but just think of yourself as the shining star and you will enjoy every bit of your time there.

Walking in the big arena and hearing the loud music and people rushing in and out like the streets of New York gave me adrenaline rush. From the moment we began our journey to Helsinki, I kept thinking this is a dream. I tried slapping myself sometimes but the reality of it was just breathtaking, looking to my left and right I see kitenge hoodies and I knew this is happening. I was so excited to be finally at the event and I just got ready to start networking!

Lesson number one: limit your time on networking. It may seem great at the beginning but it may lower your stamina if you go 6 hours talking and moving around. Being at Slush I learned that don’t wait for people to approach you and ask you about what you do. Instead, just be the friendliest person ever and swallow your pride. Try to stay away from the energy drinks on an empty stomach. Luckily there was food stands all around the stages at a reasonable price and you can get free snacks too.

vicky_2Vicky John enjoying cold weather in Helsinki.

Well the weather was quite cold but I weirdly found myself sweating at some moments. The Finns rush in the morning J, so I had to adapt.

If you are going as a group just make sure you stand out by your clothes and skip the boring look which everyone is going to have. Keep it slightly professional and a bit cultural, for example everybody knew the Tanzanians are in the house by the African print on our bodies.

vicky_3Tanzanian delegates standing out with the kitenge hoodies in the Design Factory, Aalto University.

Even though slush was mainly focused more on technology side I was happy enough. I remember the living labs’ coordinator Simon mentioned that on Friday we will go somewhere where it’s more “home like”, and later on I understood what he was talking about.

On Friday we went to visit Kontupiste and had a session in knowledge sharing with the organization and saw the similarities we share and how we can work together. Kontupiste shared their work they are doing for their community, and how they cater vulnerable groups. They also provide ICT trainings and have a co-working space. We also got to look around the space and what came intriguing to me was the medical facility that is provided for the drug abusers. I was amazed how that helps to heal the person with much medical attention with a comfortable physical environment. Another innovative program that I found interesting, was the album museum which brings together beautiful art and photography in one place. It was like personal histories in pictorial way. That is something I feel we can further it to Tanzania. Mbeya Living Lab also got the opportunity to share what we are providing for our community.

vicky_4Beautiful album art at Kontupiste provided by ordinary people. Through the project Kontupiste has been able to make their collection of private photos the biggest one in Finland.

The visit to Kontupiste was great and we went yet to another organization in Viikki. We were welcomed by fresh grapes and a vibrant cool space. The event of the day was mainly based on looking at the cultural difference between Tanzanians and Finnish people. There was a presentation about Yhteismaa activities which are mostly based on community events.

The session which then followed was for the Tanzanians and Finnish to outline their perception of each other. Some of the things mentioned were: the different weather climates (too cold in Finland and too hot in Tanzania), Tanzanians are more family oriented than Finnish, Finland is cleaner than Tanzania etc. This was a real eye opening experience as I saw that even if people have differences there is a chance for them to find similarities that we all share. The challenge activity was more serious and we looked at the challenges facing both Finland and Tanzania.

2015-11-13 16.40.47Having an ideation session organized by Yhteismaa and Kontupiste in Helsinki Think Company, Viikki aiming to learn Finnish and Tanzanian social challenges and creating solutions for those.

We shared a common huge challenge of unemployment, which is a big problem in both countries. During our session, we discussed that challenge among some others and learned from each other what kind of similarities and differences we have.

Lastly I enjoyed time with my team from Tanzania experiencing the new environment, getting lost sometimes because of the hard street names but also just sharing this great experience. Thanks to the whole team and the Finnish people!

SLUSH IS THE BEST EYE OPENER FOR START UPS by Hyasintha, Kasole Secrets

It was real great and life changing experience for me being one of the Slushers 2015 through TANZICT. As an entrepreneur learning new things is ongoing process, as the business grow the challenges also grow, so it is also vital to grow our skills and knowledge so that we can be able to cope with these dynamics.

hyasinthaHyasintha under huge disco ball at the Slush venue.

For me I regard slush as the best eye opener for start ups, starting from the Tanzanian delegates who joined the Slush 2015, I managed to network and understand clearly what made them different in running their businesses – not only that but also developing the close relationship which I would never have without Slush event.

Going back to the Slush event and UNICEF Global Innovation summit, it was inspiring to see how people around the globe never sleep, working constantly searching for innovative solutions which are cost effective, the confidence and desire to bring change was what differentiate them with other people in the World. I even asked myself if I really work hard enough to position my business to a place where it is supposed to be. Working hard does not only mean the sleepless nights that one has to take, but it also include how informed are we, how much did we prepare ourselves, do we have correct networks that have direct impact, the discipline in time management? Are we focused and always insisting on what we need? Are we ready to change some of our behaviors and attitudes that always hold us back? Slush has made me reflect on some of my personal qualities and even challenged me to adopt the useful ones so that I can be able to compete at the international level. Being a successful entrepreneur is more than having funds but it is a combination of personal skills, right networks and willingness to forego some of behaviors and attitudes.

Another thing was how they arranged their exhibition and branding, it was simple, easy to access and never tiring, I believe we Tanzanians do still have a chance to improve our national trade fairs/exhibitions and make it a place where people would love to be all day long.

hyasintha and italian ambassador

Ambassador of Italy Mr. Giorgio Visetti, Hyasintha and Mr. Mario Bartoli from the Embassy of Italy in Finland.

Above all I loved the Finnish sauna culture, I believe the sauna culture has a lot to do with Finnish leadership style of transparency and no hierarchy. For example during Vertical Accelerator’s training event, it was my first time in my life to sit next to an Ambassador just like any other person, no special care, no security, no special seat, not even a simple attention, we chatted and when I asked what do you do, he simply told me he is Ambassador. Of course, I was shocked and asked for a business card just to be sure I heard him clearly.

If I were to advice TANZICT, I would like to request them to advertise Slush application in many channels as possible so as to make many people aware of the opportunity and hence double the number of slushers next year. I believe exposure is the best and the simplest way to inspire and make people aggressive.

SLUSH is practical learning – Victor from Tango TV

So, there I was talking to this amazing lady, whose work is in developing virtual reality games, yeah, you heard that right, virtual reality games!! I am speechless as she tries to explain to me what she does, I am mind blown. I have been reading about VR for a while and being a technology nerd, I know just how revolutionary the technology is, in my head it is all up there with AI and self-driving cars, and now for the first time I am talking to someone who is so well versed in VR that she thinks it is just easy. And all that was before even SLUSH itself started, this awesome tech conference which has over 15000 attendees from the most revolutionary companies in technology, I was thinking to myself, this is going to be epic.

I was representing my start-up company Tango TV at SLUSH. We got sponsored by TANZICT, and I owe them so much for this experience.

I had signed up to attend several side events before the main slush event, the most memorable of which being the failure festival where different people went on stage and told a story on how they failed at a business or a project. One young guy from China had failed at a startup so bad he lost $1 million of his own money while he was barely 25, wow!

But enough of the side events, let’s talk of the main Slush Event, as I said there were over 15000 attendees, that’s a lot of people, and all of them working on the cutting edge of technology.

On Wednesday November 11, the first day of SLUSH, I got off the tram and walked into the Messukeskus Convention center and it was huge. There were four big stages on which events were going on at all times, SLUSH also provided a special SLUSH app just to help you know what is going on and at what stage, later that day I was talking to a startup founder from Moscow, and he said exactly what I was thinking, “Man this event is like a rock festival, but for tech and business”.

Learn, Network, learn.

With 15000 people in a single venue, there is a whole lot to learn. I learnt a great deal in just a few minutes talking to the lady from the virtual reality company, and I talked to probably a hundred startup representatives, that’s a lot of knowledge gathered. Also, thanks to our amazing organization team from TANZICT, we had several coaching and training sessions on the two days before Slush, all very educational. And on the two days of SLUSH I got to learn so fast that my head was spinning.

2015-11-12 11.38.57-1Victor pitching Tango TV to YLE (Finnish National Broadcasting Company).

What l have come to realize in the past few months is that reading is a great way to learn new things, but talking to different people is an even greater way, and in that sense, for a tech entrepreneur, SLUSH is probably better than an MBA, as long as you network, meet people and talk to them.

What to do now?

At SLUSH there was a two day continuing pitching competition for startups from across the world. I noticed there was only one Startup from Africa on this stage, out of 100 startups that pitched. Only one from Africa, this broke my heart, knowing that it is partly my fault as well, so as a resolution I plan to pitch Tango TV as one of the Slush 100 in 2016. Time to get to work!

Ecosystem – Slush 2015 Reflection, Written by Rose Funja, Agrinfo Founder & CEO

My journey started way back in 2013,I had joined a group of now over 200 tree farmers in Iringa Tanzania. As a group, we meet once a year in a day called “Chai day” as an Annual general meeting, collective the group has about 7000 acres. But one thing has been missing, the information was only passed over emails and mostly in the hands of few individuals. Fires have always been a threat and every year some members’ investments have turned to ashes. I thought there has to be a better way.

I embarked on ways that I could use my knowledge in information and communication to make matters easy. It has been a rough road since but a very rewarding one, full of discoveries and eye openers. Agrinfo was born through that struggle and now we have a platform, team and believers. Amongst them is Tanzict which is a Finnish –Tanzania collaboration that afforded me a chance to be at slush 2015.

care_monkey2015 pitching competition winners- Care monkey

Slush was amazing – coming from Buni innovation hub, I thought I knew all to know about start-ups. I had expected slush to be just one more exhibition of technologies. Well it was – but much more!! I saw passion, I saw commitment, I saw a working ecosystem! Serious government leaders, smart international investors & executives and passionate innovators come entrepreneurs! In the two days I spent most of my time at the pitching stage where 100 startups were competing for the 650,000 USD equity funds! Every company that took the stage displayed the best tech and analysed their business in the shortest amount of time with the hope to get in to the next round. The woman’s miniskirt concept was observed; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” ― Winston Churchill!

Amongst the slushers were the tech gurus the google, amazon and tesla the electric car! I was impressed by the runner-up the Astro digital and was routing for them to win but I guess it was just the day for care monkey!

rose and teslaRose, Tesla and Spotify shining on the background.

Let it be remembered that slush is organized by student volunteers. The speakers worked well in a hall with four stages and leaving room for side meetings and chats, all taking place at once. The coat room accommodated all 15,000 participant coats and it took just a few minutes in the line to store or retrieve one’s coat. The innovation theme was in the air from the sets to the dishes that food was served, sound systems and never failing wifi!

It would be a miss if I didn’t mention the level of honest culture starting with the Finnish people and picked up by the 100 different nationalities represented by the slushers! Phones and handbags that were misplaced made their way safely to the owners! Amazing!

Did I mention that slush opened with a countdown –yes it did! As if it were a New Year countdown!! It also ended with the organizer announcing the next year’s slush week—28 Nov to 2nd Dec 2016! That tells you how far ahead the planning goes! I was impressed! So what is slush—to me its an ecosystem that offers inspiration for international high growth entrepreneurs!

SLUSH! IT WAS MORE THAN I EXPECTED BY: Ruth Lukwaro – GONGALI MODEL COMPANY

I had an imagination of the previous networking conferences I attended, BUT Slush proved to be different. So many people but all aiming at something similar, very focused audience with well organized programs in a way that you get what you want.

It is one of the best networking meetings I ever attended. It was so motivating exchanging ideas with fellow startups; you speak same language and related challenges with different ways of solving the challenges.

Meeting with Investors, partners and agencies who really have a heart to work with startups! People who value your work as a startups, a lot of Congratulations for a good job, it added my fuel and am very much motivated. The challenges are a stepping stone for me now.

I would encourage startups, if you are looking for something to get you from where you are to another step in any angle- Slush is the event to attend! I loved it!

Please utilize the opportunities very well! Work on all information you receive from the organizing committee. Book your meetings earlier-it is very important.

I will always cherish the memories of my Slush experience.