SLUSH 2014 – Pitching With the Big Boys

SLUSH 2014 – Pitching With the Big Boys

Picture by Mika Simula

Picture by Mika Simula

SLUSH 2014 report by Wille Hujanen

First things first: What is SLUSH 2014?

“Slush is the focal point for Eurasian startups and technology talent to meet with top-tier international investors, executives and media.”

Basically at SLUSH 2014 about 15000 people – startups and investors – gathered at an amazing conference for two days in Helsinki.
You know the deal: stages, pitching, booths and networking (+ lots of fun!)


What we wanted from SLUSH 2014?

Well here’s the current status of Zaibatsu Interactive in a nutshell:

HIGH: Motivation, variety of skills and future possibilities

LOW: Money, resources and industry experience

What we’re looking for is an investor that has video game industry experience and is ready to invest money and expertise into our business.
At this stage (without any published games and not much experience in the industry) convincing these investors can be quite a challenge.

SLUSH 2014 was an opportunity for us to show these potential investors (and others) who we are and what we want to achieve. Later on we can show them that we have reached our goals and maybe they’ll invest in us!


What we did at SLUSH 2014?

The Preparations

We were very fortunate to get 6 tickets from various organizations, full day booth for Tuesday (courtesy of Supercell, Next Games, Remedy and Rovio), and a four hour booth for Wednesday from local business development company (JYKES). We can’t thank you all enough!

In addition to all the necessary SLUSH related arrangements (writing the press-release and one-pager, scheduling meetings at the SLUSH web site…) we had to think how could we achieve our goals. What do we have to do in order to stand out from the crowd?

Of course there was lots of last minute chaos that took time from the business side of the preparation. We wanted to have as stable and good-looking version of Elder Goo for SLUSH as possible. We make quality games, so our game has to support our message – even when in beta.

Basically our plans boiled down to three components: how we look (the props), what we say (the pitch) and who do we talk to (the people).


The Props

Zaibatsu Interactive shirt

Game dev scene in Finland is all about hoodies, so of course we had to break the mold and order ourselves printed buttoned shirts (and t-shirts). Premium games = premium looks.


SLUSH 2014 - Elder Goo props

 We aimed to stand out by decorating our stand (and ourselves) with different Elder Goo characters.


SLUSH 2014 - Elder Goo flyers

We handed out Elder Goo press release flyers. Later we scattered them all over the SLUSH 2014 venue.

I tried to keep our Twitter account (@ZaibatsuInc) active during the SLUSH 2014 (mostly using the wrong SLUSH -hashtag #SLUSH2014 instead of#SLUSH14)


The Pitch

We had thought out the pitching beforehand, but because I learn mostly by doing, so my personal way of pitching was “perfected” during the conference.

I told myself: Get to the point, be clear, don’t ramble.
This communicates that I have a clear vision of the game and our business (and hopefully makes our company look a bit professional).

Not everyone understands my game/business/design/dev jargon.
That’s why I mostly explained the same thing twice, so I’m sure the person knows what I’m desperately trying to explain.

Here’s how I pitched our game Elder Goo:

The Genre:
Elder Goo is a local co-operative multiplayer puzzle adventure game.
That means we play together on the same tablet and try to get through the levels by solving different puzzles.

The Twist:
Every character has unique abilities that are needed in order to solve the puzzles.
So as players we need to help each other to achieve our common goal. That means lots of experimentation, communication – and of course fun!

The Audience:
The target market is for families with only one tablet device.
This doesn’t exclude other markets like party gaming, single player experiences (with iPad or iPhone) or players of all ages.
The target market helps us to reach the audience that has clear needs for this game: kids fighting over the use of a single tablet device. Elder Goo is a way to have quality time among children and parents.


The People

Personally I met a lot of interesting people throughout the days.

People would walk by our booth, slow down, watch our game, and try to keep going. Trick is to catch them when they are just about to leave! (No one caught me when I went past their booths with no audience around them.)
When someone slowed by our booth, I asked: “Do you wanna try our game?” and only few passed the opportunity. Out of hundreds.

These people were publishers, marketers, investors, game designers, consults, CEO’s… Potential partners in business – every single one! I would then present our game and company to them, ask what their company does, and then the discussion continued until we changed business cards.


What we got from SLUSH 2014?

  • Lots of contacts to collaborate with now and in the future
  • Experience of marketing in large events
  • Hopefully some publicity
  • Sleep deprivation

So, for a video game company that hasn’t launched a single game yet – was it worth it?

We were able to see our game and our business from a new perspective. We also got lots of insights on the industry which will definitely help us to reach our goals.


What now?

SLUSH left us with bundle of ideas on how to improve Elder Goo, so now we are going to go evaluate them and add more tasks to our “Post-SLUSH” backlog.

Also we have already started contacting the people we met and readjusting our future plans accordingly. There are so many great possibilities to undertake!

Now we have some time to develop our game and business for the next big milestone event: BeatCon!


Did you or your company go to SLUSH 2014? How was your experience?

You can comment below or we can discuss at Twitter!

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