A key component to making a startup a success is knowing who your true customers are. Today, Antti Sonninen, the Japan CEO for Slush, one of the largest startup events in the world lays out the business model for us, and the facts will probably surprise you.
Many of our American listeners will not have heard of Slush since they have not yet expanded to North America, but they are a startup event powerhouse in Europe and, increasingly, in Asia. Their recent event in Tokyo had over 4,000 attendees.
This week, we take a no-hype look at the business model that supports all the hype. These events do a lot of good for the startup community, but even when everyone has the best of intentions, someone has to pay the bills. Nobody will work for free for long, so it’s fascinating to see who are the real stakeholders are and what they get out it.
It’s an interesting discussion, and I think you’ll learn a lot. I know I did.
Show Notes for Startups
The flaw in the social entrepreneurship model
Why Japanese startup events aren’t helping the startup community
Why so many successful startups are coming out of Finland these days
How to open up Japan’s closed startup scene
The danger posed by Japan’s young VC’s
What sponsors really expect out of startup events
Who really buys tickets to these events
The biggest misconception non_Japanese have about Japan
Links from the Founder
Check out Slush Asia
Follow Antti on twitter @asonninen
Friend him on Facebook
Leave a comment
Transcript from Japan
Disrupting Japan. Episode 49.
Welcome to disrupting Japan. Straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for listening.
At Disrupting Japan, we usually try to bring you the startup news and insights without the hype but today we’re going to dive deep inside the hype. Antti Sonninen is a Japan CEO for Slush, one of the largest start-up events in the world. Now some of our American listeners are scratching their heads right now. Slush doesn’t run events in North America but they’re powerhouse in Europe and increasingly in Asia as well.
Long time listeners will know that I’m rather cynical about a lot of the cheerleading and rah rah innovation optimism that goes on at these start up events but they’re unquestionably do a lot more good than harm and today Antti’s going to explain the business with startup events. With no cheerleading, well OK, with only a little bit of cheerleading, Antti walks us through the business model. Who are the real customers? How do these events actually make money and is this kind of business sustainable when the coming downturn eventually comes?
It’s a fascinating discussion and I think you’ll learn a lot. I know that I did.
Tim: So I’m sitting here with Antti Sonninen, CEO of Slush Asia, advisor to BeatRobo and startup founder in your right. Thanks for sitting down with me.
Antti: Yeah, thanks very much Tim.
Tim: Want to congratulate you just last week you had a second anniversary Slush events. There were 4,000 people showed up.
Antti: Exactly. We had our second event last weekend. It was a pleasure having you also involved in the stage program so thanks for that.
Tima: Delighted to be a part of it.
Antti: The event grew from one-day event to two days. The attendee counts grew from 3,000 to 4,000. I’m especially proud of the 400 student volunteers that helped to make it together.
Tim: You did have a whole army of volunteers out there keeping everyone in line and shepherding the crowd’s to where they needed to be. Later on I’m going to get back to talking about Slush and the business model behind these events but for now, I want to talk about you a little bit. You actually started your own company back in Finland which was Abrella?
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