The week before Slush, we read the announcement that Baqend would be among the top 100 startups out of roughly 2000 candidates. Right away and with great expectations we started to prepare for our biggest pitching event so far.
We began our journey on the last Tuesday of November and arrived right on time in Helsinki. Just before noon we reached our small Airbnb apartment, talked to our host and found ourselves faced with the question: „What the hell are you doing in Helsinki in November?“ Apparently the Finnish word for November „Marraskuu“ means „death month“.
On our way to the conference center the weather made us realize what the Finnish mean by that. And even Slush greeted us with a matching banner.
After the long queue, we were astonished by the sheer size of the event as well as the stunning interior and night club-like design. After running around like headless chickens for half an hour we finally found a viewing platform to get ourselves an overview of the place.
We spent the morning in meetings with potential customers and investors that we found via the Slush matchmaking platform. Various promising talks later we went to look for the pitching stage to get an impression of our competition.
Finally, at 2pm it was Felix’s turn to pitch in front of hundreds of visitors and the expert jury. Presenting Baqend’s highly technical product using only three slides in three minutes was a real challenge. Fortunately, Felix did a great job explaining the importance of website load times for businesses and showcasing Baqend’s competitive advantage due to new caching technologies. Now it was time to wait for the decision of the jury on which 20 start-ups would make it to the semi-finals.
The evening consisted of numerous events spread all over Helsinki. We decided for a tram ride through the city with a subsequent networking party. We heard great talks, like one from the head of Zalando R&D and had a lot of fun. The whole time we were quite nervous though and continuously checked the Slush website for any update on the jury’s decision.
Finally, on our way home, the jury announced the 20 lucky winners to attend the semi-finals. We were utterly disappointed to learn that we did not make it. But that disappointment vanished when we realized that we had opened the announcement page from last year’s event. The actual announcement listed us for the semi-finals, we made it!
The following night was rather a short one because we had to finalize and rehearse the new 5-minute pitch. The next morning, a little tired, we headed right to the pitching stage to meet with the other semi-finalists.
Soon it was Felix’s turn again. Again he held a great presentation elaborating how Baqend is used to build instantly-loading websites to accelerate e-commerce success and other online businesses. After explaining the huge potential market opportunity und answering further questions on the business model and technical foundations of Baqend, we were back to waiting on the jury’s decision.
In the afternoon we had some time to visit the impressive founders stage, where some amazing companies talked about their experiences and helpful tips for running and growing a business.