Slush ’16 recap

fullsizerenderLast week we took part in Slush, the gathering of 15,000 tech-heads as the slogan goes in the far North. Helsinki, Finland to be more exact. As always for this time of the year, the weather was lovely with sufficient amounts of snow, rain, wind and occasional sunshine to sweeten the deal. Having attended the first Slush many years back (a cozy gathering of 300 people), the event has now grown to 17,000 visitors making it one of the largest tech conferences in Europe.

What happened and what did we learn at Slush this year? Here’s the rundown:

  1. CartSkill reached TOP 7 in the Seedcamp pitching contest and pitched on stage. First we were thrilled to be selected top 13 from 400 applicant companies. After a great pitch training seminar by Tom and Dave from Seedcamp we were selected Top 7 and pitched on stage on Day 1. From a chatbot company perspective much of the feedback and suggestions were around repeatability of delivering high quality customer service chatbots. To offer a good product while being able to scale. This advice was much appreciated as it goes to the heart of our business model and touches on some of the tech we have been developing recently to ensure deployment of accurate language models without too much time for delivery. Congrats to Nordigen for winning the pitching contents!
  2. Day before Slush had a super interesting meetup with bot developers across the world together with some good drinks (whether salmiakki is good or not is up to everyone themselves to decide :). One of the topics of discussion was the way in which the experience from bots in the first phase of rollout to users will continue on guiding their attitudes towards the usefulness of bots in general. With that in mind, it is important to assign utility to bots and have them move past simple hi-how-are-you type experiences. That way users can themselves feel and learn of the value of the bots which will pave for continued adoption of chatbots across industries.
  3. With a dozen back-to-back meetings it was hard to keep track of everything that was happening (demos, talks) but the connections at Slush are what gives the event its value. Matchmaking system worked well this year. The takeaway from the meetings with a variety of early stage investors was that the problems in customer service that can be solved by chatbots was well understood – namely the high cost of providing a good service and the slow response times.
  4. And finally was great to experience the hospitality of the Zalando team with a gathering at their techhub in Helsinki. A great example of a European tech company with bold ambitions and reach.

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