Despite November having a bad rep with its weather being somewhat on the gloomy side, many ambitious Latvian startups rolled their sleeves up and went to Northern Europe's largest technology and startup event Slush 2022. This year's conference taking place at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Center, was a massive success in many ways. But most of all, we were thrilled and proud to have had the opportunity to show the rest of the world what a fantastic place Latvia is – in terms of startup ecosystem and community, skills and knowledge, investment environment, and so much more.
An-ever Loud Return of the Good Old Slush
After a couple of years of the coronavirus quieting the world and the global startup ecosystem alike, in 2022, Slush seemed to be returning to its previous editions' roaring success. These numbers speak for themselves – there were more than 12,000 attendees: founders, innovators, investors, media representatives, and other curious minds looking to turn this world upside down. Slush has reported that this year's event was attended by more than 2,600 investors, which is a lot more than a year before. The event was officially sold out a month before it actually took place.
Getting to Know Latvia
We all know far too well that the Latvian startup ecosystem is small yet vibrant, rapidly growing, and changing. To advance this growth, the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) brought nine promising Latvian startups together with more than 20 investors from nine countries in the Startup-Investor Matchmaking Event during the first day of Slush 2022.
The event was organised as part of a special trade mission. It allowed the startups and investors to discuss investment opportunities face-to-face while dropping a joke or two without having any glitchy and annoying video calls ruining the mood.
The Voltage of Ideas Causing A Power Surge
With a selection of solid and ambitious Latvian startups with significant investment or growth potential from a variety of industries, we managed to bring investment funds to our table, such as Inventure, a Nordic VC focusing on pre-seed, seed, and series A investments across Nordics and Baltics; VNTRS, a Nordic-Baltic venture studio investing in tech startup companies, Open Circle Capital, an early-stage VC fund which makes investments in technology startups, and more.
One of the most epic matchmaking event highlights was the sudden blackout in the partner chambers. Yet, it didn't seem to bother any of the investors, so both sides kept having dazzling conversations in the dark as if nothing had happened. Some of the participants lightheartedly admitted that this experience would be unforgettable.
Paving the Road to Success is a Joint Effort
Getting into the spotlight of international investors is never easy, so who are the Latvian companies that somehow managed to gain their attention? The startups representing Latvia this year were Catalyco, Enzymity, Cellbox Labs, Longenesis, Hyperjob, PrintOnPack, Fintelligence, Corebook.io, and Huntli. These companies develop innovative products and services in biotechnology, financial technology, energy, healthcare, recruitment, and other sectors.
By the way, this year, meetings with investors, as well as investor attraction and coordination of the support activities for startups, were set up in cooperation with the Riga Technical University (RTU) Science and Innovation Centre. It clearly proves that it takes a village to pave the road to success in the world of startups and innovation.
The organisers of Slush strongly believe that the primary aim of this event is to “connect founders with what and whom they need while building a new, inclusive, and more purposeful culture of entrepreneurship,” and we were lucky enough to be there in the capital of Finland to witness just that. Honestly? We cannot wait to get back together with this fantastic community of game-changers in a year.