Atte Hujanen – Disrupt everything.
When Atte Hujanen first became involved with SLUSH it was a small gathering of 300 people about to be canceled. Hujanen – together with Aalto University schoolmate Miki Kuusi – grew the event into the defining start-up conference in Europe and beyond. So, what’s next?
What’s inherently difficult about startup culture is that – by very definition – it is not a static or repeatable business model. While every Kickstarter, UBER, or Airbnb might see a handful of copycats, there is only one truly new idea and that tends to come from a place that nobody is looking. Enter Atte Hujanen.
Hujanen, along with partner and Aalto University schoolmate Miki Kuusi, helped shape the tech conference SLUSH into a world destination. This year SLUSH saw close to 18 000 attendees make their way to Helsinki during the dark and dreary days of November. This included 2 300 startups, 1 100 venture capitalists, and 600 journalists from over 120 countries.
It is impressive stuff, but when Hujanen and Kuusi took over SLUSH in September 2011, everything was different. They were students at Aalto University and the event they had inherited from Rovio's Peter Vesterbacka earlier in the spring was about to be canceled. Two months prior to launching, the situation looked so bad that they picked up the phone to deliver the bad news to Vesterbacka.
Hujanen recalls, "We told Peter that we had no website, speakers or investors, but he was so enthusiastic that we didn't have the heart to tell him that there wouldn't be an event at all. I thought that we simply had to give it a try, so Miki sent an e-mail to Supercell's Ilkka Paananen, who replied, 'Of course, how can I help?"
Those contacts and two months of hard work attracted an amazing 1 500 participants to the venue at Cable Factory in Helsinki. And the number of participants has more than doubled every year. Explains Hujanen, "the fact, that we were able to pull the event off that first year, was solely due to the efforts of some very committed people. We worked without titles according to the principle that everyone took care of what they did best.”
Hujanen's next endeavour brings people together, too. In a very different way. He is the co-founder of a startup called Singa, which gives access to over 20 000 karaoke tracks. The service analyzes each singer’s performance based on lyric timing, sustained notes, and correct pitch to award a score at the end of each performance.
Hujanen believes that Singa can disrupt and expand the entire karaoke market, “we don’t want to be the social network for singers or the most viral app for creating funny videos of yourself singing. We want to be the underlying API for all the world’s karaoke and instrumental music needs. That means anything you might want to use to sing: mobile phone, tablet, browser, Smart TV or over-the-top TV boxes and all the way to the professional karaoke systems in different venues. That’s a $10B annual industry that’s pretty much still in the ’90s and we’re here to fix it.” He says and smiles knowingly, "You just have to aim high to reach high."
More about Singa.
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