Following its steady, successful international expansion, the start-up event series Slush touched down in India in November 2018 for the first time. As one of the key Slush partners, TCS has been heavily involved in the events over the last few years. We see great potential for the Indian start-up community to benefit from the opportunities Slush offers, as Sankha Som, TCS Chief Innovation Evangelist, explains.

Slush is one of the key international events in the start-up calendar. The very first Slush event took place in Helsinki, in 2008. There were just a few hundred attendees. In 2017 there were more than 20,000. It’s now the largest gathering of start-ups in Europe and has expanded to Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore.

For the first time, Slush has entered India, meaning start-up companies, investors, technologists and established businesses from one of the world’s most exciting geographies can network, share ideas and inspire one another.

We’ve been partnering with Slush for about four years. Seeing it expand into India has been something we’re delighted by at TCS. Entrepreneurship is a hot topic everywhere, especially in India. So, it’s great to help inspire future generations of entrepreneurs who get to learn from the experiences of others.

It’s the importance of those shared insights that inspired us to create the TCS Slush experience. We have something different to offer – a different perspective, combined with the truly global reach of a large enterprise organization.

Creating a virtuous loop

Over the last three years, at the TCS Slush Experience, we have looked for the most interesting start-ups we can find. Then we give them one-on-one time with senior executives from some of our leading corporate.

If you’re leading a brand-new business, built on an idea that you believe in passionately, getting advice on how to create demand, or design rigorous processes can be invaluable.

For the corporate execs, getting up-close-and-personal with ground-breaking ideas that have the potential to ignite new revenue streams or deeper customer engagement, can be a real eye-opener.

India is undergoing a start-up renaissance; over the last five years, it has become one of the hottest places on the global entrepreneurial map.

Having built an in-event experience that has become a recognized source of value for its attendees, we were one of the first people Slush called to discuss the Indian expansion.

Some of the Slush India attendees included some great founders from businesses like NestAway, and the head of Trivago India – one of the largest hotel and travel companies. It was also heartening to see a good turnout from the Indian venture capitalist.

We ran a roundtable session with founders, incubators, venture capital firms, representatives from government bodies, and a few of our customers, discussing what it takes to forge really strong connections between startups and enterprises.

Two-way learning

Culturally, there’s a great deal that larger, established businesses can learn from young, vibrant startups. Larger organizations have developed processes and protocols – which is a good thing. But sometimes those processes can end up dictating to people and constraining how they work.

Start-ups tend to build cohesive, energetic cultures – they’re very people-focused, and that’s usually because, in these businesses, talented people are their clearest competitive advantage.

It is therefore extremely important to keep employees engaged, and that’s an outlook larger organizations would do well to reconnect with.

The other thing start-ups are great at is being proactive, creative and solutions-oriented. Identifying problems and creating solutions is the rationale behind every successful start-up. But this is particularly true of the ones who have grown as a result of disrupting the markets they enter.

They have a way of thinking that can sometimes get lost in large businesses where the emphasis can be on excellence in execution, not so much in creative thinking.

Really, it’s all about finding a way of extracting the strengths of each and letting them inform one another’s thinking.

Overall, the reactions from attendees at Slush India were really positive, especially hearing about the entrepreneurial journeys of prominent founders. And we anticipate that next year it will become much larger.


Sankha Som is a Chief Innovation Evangelist at Tata Consultancy Services