Could you live as you preach and be an entrepreneur yourself?
Absolutely and I will be one after Slush. I want to solve climate change and make people ten times better learners. Building a company is one of the best ways to do that. After that I can go back to investing.
I’m a bad loser and an extremely competitive person. I’ve known since middle school that I want to become an entrepreneur one day. I’m a perfectionist who also enjoys to work in a frame set by someone else. But much more, I love the ambiguity and feeling of insecurity of setting the limits to myself – or rather not setting any limits at all, however naive that may sound.
You’re not an entrepreneur at the moment but instead the newly elected CEO of Slush. Do you feel like you are executing somebody else’s vision?
Before starting as the CEO, I had felt for already some time that the long-term vision of Slush wasn’t crystal clear. When I took on the job, I knew I could only blame myself after that. In five years, Slush should have the best capabilities in the world to bring people together in the context of entrepreneurship, whether physically or online: potential ideas, their builders, financiers, and buyers find each other with minimal effort.
Entrepreneurship education is being brought to schools more and more. Why is everyone trying to shove entrepreneurship down kids’ throats?
We don’t need all sixteen-year-olds to become entrepreneurs but I think an entrepreneurial mindset is something that anyone can profit of. It has to do with failing and getting up again. In the future, most work will be project based and it is essential to be able to lead oneself.
In your Linkedin, you claim that entrepreneurship is the best way to solve ”big and meaningful problems in the world”. Entrepreneurship is based on capitalism which someone could see as the essential problem maker. How come entrepreneurship is the best way to solve problems?
We need capitalism to save the world.
We need capitalism to save the world. Some people, like myself, can be mobilized with a mission incentive – that is, ”a cause”. When you add a financial incentive to it, it starts to move masses. In the future, the most successful companies will be the kind which are a combination of both – it will be easier for them to compete for skillful workforce when a big paycheck isn’t the only thing they can offer.
That seems idealistic. Has the human mind really changed that much that we could turn the course of this boat and harness capitalism towards fighting good?
I am not sure, but I want to believe that it’s happening.
During the past few years, Slush has become global with branch events in Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore. What guides Slush when choosing new locations?
We try to look for places where there is still room for a change in the mindset towards entrepreneurship. Japan, which is an extremely hierarchical society is an example of this.
Young volunteers are our everything. Government officials around the world ask us often, if we could take Slush to their cities. It’s not reason enough. We want the local young people, not politicians.
Do you take human rights into account when choosing locations?
That’s not the first thing we look at. We try to stay politically neutral.
You live and breathe the startup scene. Can the hype be deceptive?
Hyping entrepreneurship just for the sake of starting companies is not fruitful. If it doesn’t solve a problem, it’s nonsense.
Andreas Saari is the Chief Executive Officer of startup event Slush co-founder of early-stage venture capital fund Wave Ventures He studies Industrial and Engineering Management at Aalto University and is into extreme sports.