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We all know that the world of business and entrepreneurship has undergone a huge shift in the wake of COVID-19. Remote work is now the new norm for many, although the battle between in-person and remote work continues. However, there’s one aspect of the business world where in-person meetings seem to have the biggest impact—startup events and conferences. According to data from founder-focused startup event Slush, the return of in-person meetings and events has played a pivotal role in the industry’s stabilization, making them more critical than ever. Slush 2023 is the world’s largest gathering of venture capital, bringing together 3,000 investors with more than $3T in AUM (assets under management).

The Resurgence of In-Person Events

You might remember a time in the recent past when most of us were attending events online, but this is one area where a desire for remote attendance didn’t stick. 

COVID digital events unicorn Hopin sold their events and session units to RigCentral amid multiple layoff rounds and a lack of new funding as a return to pre-pandemic life brought back in-person events and demand for remote events diminished.

According to a survey conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), a whopping 82% of business travelers across 22 countries found business travel to be worthwhile in achieving their business objectives. This underscores the continued relevance and significance of in-person events for achieving business goals.

Western Europe has emerged as a powerhouse in the event industry’s recovery. The region was the fastest-growing globally in 2022, with a promising trajectory. The Global Business Travel Association forecasts that spending on business travel will reach a staggering $1.8 trillion by 2027, showcasing the industry’s strong rebound.

“In-person conferences are a great way for start-ups and investors to meet. In 2022 booksalon held 25 meetings with qualified investors at Slush. When the organization of the meeting logistics are well thought out, you can handle a large amount of meetings like that in a day. Meeting face to face is by far the best way to find the right connections and forge meaningful business connections,” says Harri Myllylä, CEO of booksalon

Securing Investments: A Primary Motivation

For startups, these events are more than just a platform for networking and showcasing their innovations Throughout Slush’s history, startups have joined it to meet investors and secure funding. Slush gathered data from its 2023 Feedback Survey, revealing that in 2023, funding was the main reason startups came to Slush (82%), followed by partnerships (71%) and visibility (60%). 

In 2023, startups, investors, and angel investors accounted for over 61% of all Slush attendees. 

The startups presence increased by 8,7% compared to the previous year, and the number of investors grew by 15% compared to 2022. This demonstrates the heightened interest among investors as well as the rise of European venture capital — there are more investors in Europe than ever before. The survey data also revealed that 82% of startups attended Slush in 2023 with the primary aim of securing funding, indicating that securing investments remains a primary motivation for entrepreneurs to participate in events.

“We met with Carbo Culture a few years ago at Slush and that became a meaningful investor-founder relationship which resulted in Cherry Ventures co-leading their seed round. When it comes to building meaningful relationships with entrepreneurs and others in the tech ecosystem, nothing beats in-person connections — and an event like Slush is the perfect place to make them,” says Sophia Bendz, Partner at Cherry Ventures.

The Growing Investor Presence

Investor entities played a more substantial role in Slush 2023, with an almost tripled amount of VC entities from 2021, and 35% more compared to last year. The number of Limited Partners increased by 150% and CVC entities grew by 26% compared to 2022, highlighting the growing interest from various investor categories.

The majority of investor entities at Slush primarily hailed from Northern and Central Europe, with a notable increase in North American entities attending. The influx of North American investors further strengthens the global appeal of these events.

“NEA has actively invested in Europe for many years. We opened an office earlier this year to focus more intensely on identifying opportunities in Europe’s rich startup market and supporting our existing companies located here,” said Luke Pappas, Partner at NEA. “Being in the region allows us to meet top European companies in a concentrated way and attend top-tier industry events that cultivate such talent, like Slush.”

For both investors and angel investors, the primary reasons for attending Slush were centered around connecting with fellow investors (88%) and with startups (83%).

Closing Deals

The significance of securing investments at startup events becomes even more evident when looking at the outcomes of these interactions. In 2023, 20,000 meetings took place at Slush, tripling the number compared to 2021. This surpassed even pre-pandemic levels. In 2018 there were about 16,100 meetings.

Notably, 12% of startups, 11% of investors, 21% of angel investors, and 14% of all attendees reported closing deals based on discussions initiated at Slush. These statistics highlight the tangible results that these events can yield, making them a valuable platform for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

“I met with Marit, co-founder and CEO of Strise at a Slush side event in 2019. Two months later we finalized our seed investment. Slush is always a good combination of relevant meetings with old and new connections,” says Paavo Räisänen, partner at

In conclusion, the return of in-person events and conferences, as exemplified by Slush and supported by industry data, underscores their enduring importance in the startup and investment world. These events not only facilitate connections and networking but also play a pivotal role in securing investments, fostering innovation, and driving growth in the startup ecosystem. As the business world continues to evolve, it’s clear that in-person events are here to stay and remain a crucial asset for entrepreneurs seeking to secure investments and propel their startups to new heights.

Piece co-produced with


  • Slush 2023 Startups Applications
  • Slush 2023 Investor Applications
  • Slush 2023 Tickets
  • Slush 2023 Feedback Survey
  • Slush 2022 Feedback Survey