Shreya Kumar was one of the brave souls to go up on stage within the Talk The Talk event during Slush 2017. We wanted to find out how it was for her to be part of such a big event.
- How did you find out about Slush and what were your first thoughts?
I spent last summer in Stuttgart, Germany, preparing for my TedX talk and trying to familiarise myself with Helsinki virtually before I started my master studies in the fall. My friend introduced me to Slush and I was fascinated by the startup culture in Helsinki. Just one event, which I also experienced later, brings together international and local talents, creating a small world which sparks innovation, linking people and great ideas.
- Why did you apply to be part of Talk The Talk?
I applied to Talk The Talk at the drop of a hat. It was one of the side events for Slush, which encouraged professionals, even students, from all disciplines to share 5 minutes of a story that the world needs to hear. At first it seemed like the perfect platform to speak about my project, later I realised it was much more than just a talk for me. Within the first two months of being in Helsinki, I had met a dozen talents, had a one-on-one with four celebrities and shared several meals with upcoming entrepreneurs who I still meet occasionally. Talk The Talk was a great way to explore the new city and its people.
- How scary was it to go up on stage and give the talk of your life?
I learnt that going up on stage is a huge responsibility. It is not your story but about the time your audience is taking out to take something back home. My learnings from the TedX Talk experience and the sessions organised by Slush helped me feel ready and excited to go up on stage.
- How did you prepare for the talk?
Talk The Talk team comprises of young students who work hard day and night, starting months ahead to make sure they are bringing perfection on stage. I am a part of the organising team this year and there are passionate efforts to bring in the best mentors and sessions for the talents. For example, mentors like Elina Aalto, who helps you transform your subject into an emotional narrative, is a small part of the preparation. Each session is themed and connects to a beautiful delivery.
- How did you feel during the talk and when it was over?
The idea that some people are simply born good orators is actually a misconception. I felt a vast difference between my speech delivery on day one, versus the actual talk. The final talk was a piece which went through different iterations of storytelling over four months of training. Like Sara Aalto said “There is never enough practice. Your topic should be ingrained in you so well that you can deliver it while dancing or even collapsing”. Repetitive practise helped me to master the understanding of my talk, so all that was left was performing. This experience encouraged me to learn more because it’s a long way to go.
- What else did you do within Slush 2017?
I was a part of the Interviewer team at Slush. The team had the responsibility to interview and host entrepreneurs from different countries to gather their comments and feelings about the event. I felt lucky to be in conversation with Viola Lewellyn about her journey as a co-founder of Ovamba Solutions and her mission to create financial security for SMEs in Africa. Being a designer, it was a great learning experience to find out about her perspectives on social innovation and impact in Africa.
- Has this experience changed your view about yourself and/or what you would like to do in the future? Has it influenced your design mind?
Being a UX/UI designer, I feel I have been in a digital cocoon. I am creating experiences which may not solve problems. However, Slush exposed me to spaces with real problems which are currently invisible to me. I would encourage designers to volunteer and participate at Slush. This would help them collaborate with spaces who are creating actual impact wherein website are just a touchpoint.
- What is your favorite memory from your Slush 2017 experience?
It was after the Slush event. I got a tweet from Viola Lewellyn about how it was a great experience for her to be in conversation with me at the Slush event. That tweet was a great end to the event.