For the first time, Slush will arrive in Singapore on 20 September 2016, during the first ever Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology. The event is expected to attract over 1,000 attendees globally, including 150 startups and 100 investors. There’s only two weeks to the event. We talked with Anna Ratala, Main Organizer of Slush Singapore to find out how the preparations of the debut of Slush in Southeast Asia are going!
Two weeks to go until the first ever Slush Singapore. How are the preparations going?
They’re going great – we are so excited! All the main components are well in place, the program is ready and the production preparations are in full swing. For the remaining time we will concentrate on finalizing all the details. The final sprint is always the craziest and the most fun!
Who are the speakers to look forward to at Slush Singapore?
Personally, I’m really looking forward to meeting Eric Migicovsky, the founder and CEO of Pebble, the smartwatch that was the most successful crowdfunding campaign in Kickstarter’s history. Other exciting speakers include Khailee Ng, Managing Partner at 500 Startups, Nick Nash, Group President of Garena, that is Southeast Asia’s highest-valued tech startup, and Karoli Hindriks, Founder of Jobbatical. I’m also extremely happy that we have a strong Southeast Asian representation, including some local superstar entrepreneurs like Darius Cheung of 99.co and Quek Siu Rui of Carousell, also named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia list.
The Slush movement has been spreading across Asia in the recent years with events organized in Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai. Why now is a good time for Slush to land in Singapore?
The timing could not be better. Southeast Asia is attracting a huge amount of funding and top tech talent to its rapidly developing markets. Singapore provides a gateway between the Western investors and businesses and their Southeast Asian counterparts and Slush Singapore aims at connecting the region with the rest of the world.
What kind of opportunities Southeast Asia offers as a region?
Southeast Asia is the place to be right now for technology startups. It provides a developing market of 600 million people with increasing purchasing power and access to Internet. Countries like Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines reveal enormous opportunities – and not only in terms of end users but as the incubators of the future tech talent.
Hence, Slush being a frontrunner with building the global community, is now enabling local entrepreneurs, students and governmental agencies to work together to build the regional cooperation with like minded members.
Volunteers are at the heart of the Slush culture everywhere in the world. How was it like to find volunteers for the first ever Slush Singapore?
At first, we didn’t know what to expect. While there are some volunteering opportunities in Singapore, it has never been done at this level – allowing the volunteers to actually participate in building the whole event of this scale from scratch. Singapore doesn’t have the same volunteering culture than Finland, for example, students either study or they graduate and go to work.
But we have been absolutely blown away by the response! We currently have almost 200 volunteers from students to entrepreneurs that have shown an incredible level of commitment, excitement and self-starter attitude.
What made you to jump into the Slush journey and how you see Slush SIngapore developing in the future?
I’m a risk-taker by nature and love new opportunities. I thought that if I had the possibility to be involved in helping to bring whole culture of celebrating startups and entrepreneurship to Singapore together and to inspire the local community to build the most welcoming and exciting startup ecosystem all together with the local community, I’d definitely want to do it!
As a long-term goal, I wish Slush Singapore can contribute to more startups with big breakthroughs coming from Singapore and Southeast Asia. This is only the beginning.