‘Everywhere, the Immigrant Talent is the Power’
We joined Slush 2022, the world’s largest gathering of venture capital, at the end of last week in Helsinki. The two-day event brought together 4,600 startup founders, 2,600 investors and other people, which resulted in a sold-out event, a total crowd of 12,000 at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Center, better known as Messukeskus. The main prize of the pitching competition was worth one million euros this year. We interviewed the winner, who felt that the money was really needed in their work related to making the life of immigrants easier. Here’s our report.
Text by Tony Öhberg | November 20, 2022, 9:40 pm | Feature, Business
Photographs: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY
A woman walked to the ticket stand at Messukeskus in Helsinki on Friday, on the last day of Slush.
“I want to buy a ticket,” she said.
“The event is sold out.”
“What? At any other fair I’ve attended, I can just walk in and buy a ticket. Why is yours different? The price doesn’t matter. Just give me a ticket, goddamnit!”
Slush, the annual focal point for European and Asian startups and tech talent, the two-day event that this year attracted 12,000 entrepreneurial minds, where a ticket can cost nearly 1,000 euros, indeed, had sold out already in early November.
Inside, in the dark-lit hall of Messukeskus, safe from the cold breeze in the snowless Pasila district, people wearing T-shirts, colorful blazers or electric-blue suits — all united by the big plastic badges dangling around their necks — swarmed around the area, some ready to hear the next speaker, others looking for the next big deal.
The 102 speakers on the agenda included people such as the Finnish prime minister, Sanna Marin (the SDP), who talked about the importance of product development. She said to be proud of the fact that Finland is looking to increase the budget related to research and development.
After descending from the big stage to the sound of polyrhythmic clapping, she returned to the Parliament Building for meetings. Later she told the media that the government would not propose a bill to Parliament where research and product development would have received tax incentives and likely helped small and middle-sized companies to invest funds into developing their products.
Marin said that the proposed bill was not that important in the big picture, and a certain parliamentary group in the government had resisted the initiative. They had also run out of time in the schedule of planned plenary sessions.
‘We actually really need this money to open the new market,’ said Anastasia Mirolyubova, the co-founder of Immigram, the company that won the Slush 100 pitching competition on Friday, November 18, 2022. ‘I am super happy for myself and the team cause it’s me presenting but it’s the team who is building the product. The first thing I did after winning was I called them, and everyone’s fascinated.’ Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY
If the Finnish government was keeping a tight hold on taxes, a UK-based early-stage startup dedicated to helping immigrants who are especially working in IT and tech industries gained an investment of one million euros to further develop their product by winning the Slush 100 pitching competition on Friday.
In short, Immigram’s platform enables employers to attract and retain international talent by guiding them through the entire relocation journey.
After winning the prize, Anastasia Mirolyubova, the co-founder and CEO of Immigram, said in an interview with Finland Today that one of their goals is especially to reduce “the immigration bureaucracy.” “We basically streamline all the processes so that talents could come to the destinations where they are willing to be at — faster, easier and cheaper.”
Immigram’s idea is to build the product around the immigrant and not around any particular country.
In the first picture, Mirolyubova is presenting her pitch at the Slush 100 semifinals on Thursday. In the second, Mirolyubova is picking up the prize on the following evening. ‘I’ve never had such a heavy million-dollar bag,” she laughed later in an interview with Finland Today. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY
Online publications, such as American TechCrunch and Ukrainian AIN.Capital claim that Immigram hopes to capitalize on the so-called “brain drain” from Russia, where people skilled in technology are fleeing the country because of Putin’s war in Ukraine.
In an interview with Forbes Russia, Mirolyubova said that since February 2022 (when Russia invaded Ukraine), Immigram’s clients that applied for relocation have increased three times, and 65% of them were submitted from Russians, who want to leave.
But speaking with Finland Today, it became clear that Mirolyubova’s intentions for Immigram were truly global.
“The talent shortage is huge in all the countries, starting from the U.S., to the U.K. and the E.U. Everywhere, the immigrant talent is the power, which helps build the economy. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies are built by immigrants and their children. Immigrants produce an enormous amount of revenue for countries, and it’s better for countries to streamline their processes so that it’s more efficient for everyone,” said Mirolyubova.