Nov 8, 2013 Elena Zozulya
The pitching competition is always one of the most anticipated events at Slush. 100 early-stage companies across different industries will get to compete for the top spot of Slush 2013 in front of a jury of experienced entrepreneurs and investors. Only the four best move on to the finals, so the competition is certainly going to be fierce.
The winner of this year’s Slush pitching competition will not only be greeted with a big round of applause on the main stage but will also receive €10000 from Open Ocean Capital, the Finnish venture capital firm. We had a chance to interview Patrik Backman, Managing Partner at Open Ocean Capital to find out what they are looking for at Slush this year.
What kind of companies do you keep your eye on?
“At Open Ocean we try to “stick to our knitting”, in other words, we only invest in companies with a business model that we deeply understand. Based on our experience with MySQL and other European software companies with large user bases or communities, we want to partner with entrepreneurs in similar businesses and having the goal of building global category leaders.
For example, just a couple of days ago we announced our investment in Rapidminer, the most popular Predictive Analytics and Data Mining software provider, as a joint deal with our VC-friends Earlybird in Germany. It is a very exciting product with high potential.”
Your partner team played a key role in MySQL’s success. What advantage does your experience and expertise give you?
“The Open Ocean team’s involvement in MySQL gives us a good perspective on both the practical challenges that entrepreneurs face in their day-to-day work, and the ambition level that is required to build a global winner. We also focus on the “functional challenges” of building software businesses with large user-bases, like MySQL was. Having a large user-base or a community certainly affects how you should develop, market, and sell your products.”
Why did you recently invest in Nosto?
“There were many things that we liked about Nosto. The team really understands the e-commerce business domain and they have developed an exciting recommendation product for e-commerce sites. They have also quickly gained strong customer references, and built an innovative technology and business model to take the first product to market. Finally, Nosto has a number of additional product opportunities in the pipeline, which should make for a great opportunity to scale the business rapidly.”
Why do you partner with Slush this year?
“As an investor from Finland, it is an honor to be a partner of the premier start-up event in our home country. It is indeed the place to see and to be seen in our line of business! The pitching event in practice puts Open Ocean very close to our core mission of identifying and helping promising software companies move forward.”
What do you expect from Slush?
“We expect to meet lots of interesting people at Slush, be they entrepreneurs, investors, or gurus in other fields. Of course we are always on the look-out for the next Open Ocean portfolio-company, so we hope to find that hot European software company with lots of users and a promising business.”
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