Over the past three years over half a billion dollars in capital has been invested as a result of meetings held at Slush. In 2015 alone, there were 1.51 working years of VC meetings during the two-day event.
Behind these numbers is the Slush Matchmaking Tool – an in-house built database where investors, startups, executives and media can propose and book meetings at the meeting area at Slush. Today, it is time to open the Slush Matchmaking Tool to start creating new numbers. This year both the system as well as the UI have been refined to make the user experience even more convenient. Before digging deeper into what’s to come, we’ll tell how Matchmaking has developed throughout the years.
Let’s Hustle Some Meetings
The story of Slush Matchmaking started in 2012 when Slush was arranged at The Cable Factory. Just weeks before the event, the organizing team noticed that there was still free space at the venue and had an idea to turn it into a meeting area. And so they did.
The first meeting area was a successful mess. There were ten tables and only one person hustling the meetings. At this point the actual matchmaking meant just introducing startups to investors, and vice versa. Several misunderstandings occurred due to overlapping time zones, and there were dozens of unexpected walk-ins. However, not a single meeting was skipped and the startup-investor meetings became an essential part of Slush.
Next year, the team started to concentrate more on facilitating meetings at Slush – with a focus on scalability and automatization. Meetin.gs was used to list all the startup and investor profiles and make the booking of meetings between them as effortless as possible. That year, already over 500 investor-startup meetings were held at Slush.
A as in Algorithm
2014 was probably the most crucial year in terms of what Slush Matchmaking is today. “None of the existing networking tools were solely designed for investor-startup matchmaking. So we built one,” says Markus Järvinen, CTO of Slush at the time.
Due to the doubled amount of startups, investors and media, the registration process had to be automated. “We wanted to accept registrations just by pushing a button – the information gathered during the registration could be then directly fed into Matchmaking,” explains Järvinen. “Already then, we wanted to implement Matchmaking fully with our own platform, but due to scarce resources we were only able to develop matchmaking profiles and registration edits. Meetings were still booked with meetin.gs,” he continues. In 2014, Matchmaking generated over 3,500 investor-startup meetings.
Next year Matchmaking was finally fully built in-house. For the first time, the service for booking meetings was custom built and integrated as a part of Matchmaking to provide a seamless user experience. The team created an algorithm for finding the best matches for investors and startups. The algorithm was explained in a previous blog post, but let’s do a recap!
The picture below represents geospatial plots from the registrants that are based on the information they have given during the registration. “Based on a 14-factor analysis of preferences and keywords, we’re able to calculate a node distance. The whiter the dot the better, and there’s one red dot per column: those are the best matches for that one venture capital investor, i.e. the ‘these guys have to meet’ data points. The product also takes into account a ‘quality rating’ which is provided by a qualitative analysis of a focus group of 42 leading European VCs,” writes Riku Mäkelä.
For the first time, in 2015, also executives and media were able to access Matchmaking. That year, 1,700 early-stage startups and 800 registered investors pre-booked over 4,000 meetings that were held at the event. One investor even managed to have 57 meetings over the two days through Matchmaking – let’s see if that number holds this year.
Matchmaking Goes Global
Today, we open Matchmaking for Slush 2016 for startups, investors, media and executives. The team has been working on delivering some of the most requested features:
- More flexible communication: Booking meetings is completely re-made. Meetings are scheduled in chat-like threads where users are able to iterate suitable time slot for the meeting, and also send messages.
- Matchmaking score: Last year we introduced the Matchmaking algorithm for finding best startup and investor matches. In addition, this year the platform also gives credit for activity and popularity, to find hottest startups and investors. Polish your profile and book meetings, which in return will raise your score.
- Media presence: Startups and investors are now able to contact media directly, and vice versa.
“In addition to the new features, this year the major focus has been on developing Matchmaking so that in the future the same platform is able to serve all global Slush events. This way, it will be easier for our attendees to take part in Slush events around the globe after the first registration,” says Juha Jokela, CTO at Slush.
Last May, the global debut of Matchmaking was made in Tokyo at Slush Asia, and in future we are looking to adapt the tool to all of our global events.