Lifeline Ventures' Timo Ahopelto recently published a book in Finnish, titled Sand Hill Road, which captures the journey of an international entrepreneur. We got in touch with him with a few questions.
AS: What's the elevator pitch… or uhh back cover synopsis?
Ahopelto: The story is 70% true. In 2000, straight out of school, I founded CRF Health with two of my friends. It was quite a story: three guys want to become the best in the world in electronic data capture in clinical trials, willing to risk and sacrifice everything for that goal. It is an action story with great depth in how we all should understand that no-one -- even the strongest entrepreneur -- cannot survive without other people's love, caring and help. It tells company's story from founding to Silicon Valley. Today, CRF Health is doing great: it is #1 in its industry, making some €60 million in revenues, and very healthy 15% profits on that revenue, with 20-30% annual growth.
Lifeline Ventures announced on Timo Ahopelto's blog that their fund size has grown to €30 million, compared to €20 million that we reported on earlier.
The name of the fund is Lifeline Ventures Fund I and the lifespan of the fund is 10 years with the first 5 being dedicated towards new investments. So if you want their money, start talking now.
Enevo Grabs € 2 Million From Lifeline Ventures And Finnish Industry Investment To Improve Waste Management
Garbage might not be the first choice for an industry that young entrepreneurs dream about. However, when you think about the fact that waste management is a $1 Trillion global industry, of which 30-50% is purely logistics it then certainly becomes a much more attractive area to try and disrupt.
Today, Helsinki based, Enevo announced a €2 million investment from Lifeline Ventures and Finnish Industry Investment to do just that. Their idea is fairly simple and has been tested in the local market. The investment will be used to fuel worldwide expansion and deliveries.
How active are you every day? As the old adage goes, you can't improve what you can't measure, but the new buzz around Helsinki is for Moves - an iPhone app that does a whole lot more than your basic pedometer. Rather than just tracking how much your phone shakes, it helps you understand the types of activity you do in your day-to-day life. Your data is then visualized on a daily storyline that shows where you've walked, cycled, or run to, and well as where you camped out at. The app was launched a little over a month ago, and so far has seen a little over a million downloads.
"The main idea is that it should be really simple and effortless," says Sampo Karjalainen, the Designer CEO behind Moves. "So compared to all those sports tracker devices like Nike Fuel Band or the Finnish sports trackers, they're really good at one run or cycling event, but you have to remember to turn it on, and to stop it. And they also use GPS all the time. So if you go on a long walk, the battery is empty in like five hours."
ZenRobotics announces it has raised €13 million to expand their international presence and produce the ZenRobotics Recycler on a global scale. The investment round was led by Invus, an international equity investor with evergreen capital. Lifeline Ventures, a Vigo accelerator, also participated with a minority stake.
The Helsinki-based company's main product is the ZenRobotics Recycler, a complete waste processing system designed primarily for construction waste. The system employs machine learning to pick and sort raw materials automatically, which can include metal, stone, and wood to be resold as scrap. The company says that the system is not purpose-specific, so it can be readily software upgraded for new tasks.
An interesting application of 3D printing is shown by London and Helsinki based MakieLab. The company announces their alpha launch of MAKIES, a user designed 3D printed doll. Along with the launch, MakieLab has announced their seed round investment of $1.4 million, led by early-stage investors Lifeline Ventures and Sunstone Capital. The round was also joined by Anime and gaming industry veterans Matthew Wiggins, Daniel James and Cedric Littardi of superangel-fund Ynnis Ventures.
Ditto has just announced that it has been acquired by Groupon. While being registered into the US, Ditto has been founded by Jyri Engeström the co-founder of Jaiku. Jaiku was a Finnish company that was sold to Google in 2007. There is no announcement on the price of the acquisition, but by all factors it looks like an acquihire. In other words, Groupon is acquiring the team behind Ditto. Nevertheless, an exit is always an exit.
According to the blog post, Ditto will be pulling the plug on their applications on April 30th. The Ditto mobile application was available to users on the Nokia and Apple platforms. The service allowed people to tell before hand what they were going to do, as to allow for more spontaneous meet-ups. In addition to this, you were able to leave out the specific place you were going to, which allowed for crowdsourcing of ideas from your friends.
We missed last week due to some scheduling challenges, but we're back this week a little earlier with our talk show. This week we talk to Petteri Koponen, the co-founder of Lifeline Ventures as well as the former co-founder of Jaiku and First Hop. He's got a colorful past with this companies and in living through them, built up an enormous amount of experience. Lifeline Ventures has also become one of the prominent early stage investors in Finland through their 19 investments.
We'd also like to thank our sponsor for this week - Kisko Labs, for supporting the show. Kisko Labs makes people happy by solving their problems with digital services. They've got a neat offering called Kisko Kickstart that will develop an idea into a minimum viable product in five weeks. This helps companies understand how the idea would work in a business environment.
Helsinki based Grand Cru Games (previous coverage here) is announcing a $2 million seed financing round from Idinvest Partners. In addition to this, the company is also making public its first game title it is working on - Supernauts. The $2 million in funding comes mostly from Idinvest Partners, who is a France based venture capital firm that has around €3 billion of assets under management. Other investors in the round include Rick Thompson, Anil Hansjee, Henric Suuronen and Nicolas Béraud. We talked to Markus Pasula, the CEO and one of the six co-founders of the firm about the deal and the upcoming game.
Lifeline Ventures, also one of the Vigo accelerators, has announced the launch of a €20 million fund for early stage growth companies. The investors in the fund include Pension Insurance Ilmarinen, FoF Growth, Sitra, Finnvera, Troll Ventures, Juuranto Invest and the founders of Lifeline Ventures. We talked to Petteri Koponen, one of the co-founders of the firm to understand more about the fund.
The fund is called Lifeline Ventures Fund I and it has an investment period of 5 years which is included with the 10 years of the overall age of the fund. The first five years of the fund lifecycle will be used to make new investments and the latter five will be used for follow-up investments.
PlayMySong has announced it has received $350,ooo (€271,000) in funding, allowing them to open an office in New York City and continue their reach in bars and venues between both coasts of the United States. In case you haven't seen our previous coverage, PlayMySong is a social jukebox mobile app that lets patrons control the background music you hear when you're out at a bar, diner, or at a similar location where the venue owner has the PlayMySong app running on iOS device connected to the sound system.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Timo Ahopelto. He is an entrepreneur and founding partner at Lifeline Ventures.
Health is the only industry not transformed by Web. Health is 10% of our GDP. It is more important to us personally than we realize. It is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply what already works in social web, mobile and consumer electronics.
Back in February we covered a new Finnish gaming startup called Supercell. It was founded by Mikko Kodisoja, one of the gaming gurus in the Finnish gaming industry. Supercell also received a significant amount of funding from London Venture Partners' Phil Harrison (ex-Sony global studio director), David Gardner, (ex-EA COO, one of the early investors into Playfish), David Lau-Kee, Paul Heydon, Initial Capital LP (fund founded by serial entrepreneurs) as well as Jari Ovaskainen (ex-Iobox CEO). However, Petteri Koponen, one of the founders and early stage investors in Lifeline Ventures tweeted something interesting before and during the weekend.
Vigo accelerators in Finland are planning to start building funds to further improve their possibilities in helping with startups. This has been approved by a Tekes news release (in Finnish) and in a panel discussion last week regarding Vigo accelerators. Vigo accelerators are a new form of government effort to enable growth and development of startups into the right direction with the help of serial entrepreneurs (running the accelerators).
Sulake has today announced their figures for fiscal year 2010, as well as some changes to their ownership of online properties. In 2010, Sulake turned over 56,2 million euros, which is over 20% more than in 2009. EBITDA for 2010 was at 5,4 million euros profit for the year was at 1,6 million euros. In addition to announcing their financials, Sulake has stated that they have today sold IRC-Gallery to Somia Reality Oy, which is run by a few former IRC-Gallery employees and funded by Lifeline Ventures and a few individual investors.
Thinglink today announced that they have partnered with the Berlin based SoundCloud to enable embedding of sound files to images. Thinglink has grown its clientele over previous months and hired new people on board. At the same time, SoundCloud has become one of the most interesting music startups in Europe with its growing user base and service offering.
Thinglink's technology enables users to create more meaningful images. Thinglinked images are tagged with links and information a user is able to see when they hover their mouse over the image itself. The technology is in use by Finnish media companies such as Nelonen and Aller Media.
I'm excited to tell you that we at Grey Area have closed a € 1.9m in Series A from a really great set of investors, namely Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. These guys really understand the game space and how we want to create an entirely new category of games. Could not be happier to have them with us along with Lifeline Ventures, who have been with us ever since we raised a Seed round in 2010.
Now we're gearing up for the US launch. We hope to have Shadow Cities available on iTunes App Store in the next couple of months. We're also growing really strong, moving into new offices here in Helsinki and hiring a lot new talent to the team.
I will write a longer piece on our future plans soon, but wanted to give you the news right away. I pasted the press release below and am happy to answer any questions and discuss with you guys (Full disclosure: I'm a co-founder at ArcticStartup as well as the CEO at Grey Area)
The news broke out today that Applifier has closed $2M in seed funding. The investors include MHS Capital, PROfounders Capital, Tekes, Lifeline Ventures, and angel investors Jyri Engeström, David Gardner and Lars Stenfeldt Hansen. The terms of the investment were not disclosed. Applifier is also announcing today that they have expanded their ad network into the web gaming space - where pain points are similar to that of Facebook; the market is fragmented, user acquisition costs are high and its becoming expensive to get users. We talked to Jussi Laakkonen about the expansion and they see huge opportunities in the space.
SeriesSeed.fi is perhaps one of the greatest startup related initiatives Finland has seen in a while. The site, put together by passionate individuals, gives away free of charge basic, standardized legal documents for startups. The documents cover the share holders agreement, term sheet and an investment agreement. Finland is a pioneer on this front as similar documents have been made available for the public only in a few startup hubs, such as Y-Combinator and TechStars. One of the key influencers of the SeriesSeed.fi documents are the SeriesSeed.com documents from the US.
Earlier this week we broke the 400 000 euro investment round that Valkee managed to close from some of the top tier angels around. Talouselämä, a Finnish weekly publication, has stated that the investment event that took place this week into Valkee has valued the company at 4 million euros. Esther Dyson, Anssi Vanjoki, Jyri Engeström and Lifeline Ventures received 10% of the company for their 400 000 euro investment. In total, there were six individuals and organisations who invested into the company.
Valkee, the startup that is developing an ear light solution to curing seasonal affecting disorder (SAD), has closed a 400 000 euro investment round from many well known investors. Some names include the world renown Esther Dyson, Nokia's former director Anssi Vanjoki as well as Jyri Engeström a Jaiku co-founder as well as Lifeline Ventures. To add to all the success, Valkee has also received a special mention in the Finnish INNOSUOMI 2010 -competition.
Reporting from the Mindtrek conference, I managed to have a chat with Jussi Laakkonen the CEO of Applifier about their service and what's been keeping them busy in the recent months. Only a little over a month ago we reported about the company reaching 55 million monthly active users (MAUs) within Facebook with their cross promotion network. Applifier is the successful (I think we can give it to them already easily) full company pivot from Everyplay, which used to be a 3D social game in Facebook.
After a competitive bidding process Timo Ahopelto, Jarkko Joki-Tokola and Jaakko Ollila, the original CRF Health founding trio, have acquired all of 3i shares in the company for € 6 million. After the acquisition together they constitute the single largest equity holder of the Company. Other owners includes Nordic Venture Partners and SMAC Partners. CRF Health is the maker of electronic Patient Reported Outcomes (ePRO) solutions for the global clinical trials industry
In 2009 3i informed its portfolio companies that it wants to sell all of its venture assets from its portfolio as part of moving away from venture capital where it stumbled as many VCs have with the technology market crash. Clearly, this means that the three founders got to buy the company back with an attractive valuation as 3i categorically wanted to get rid of their venture investments regardless of whether they were successful of not. CRF Health was in the former group - It's globally number one in its industry regardless of whether you measure it by revenue (Expected close to € 25 million IN 2010) or by net profit (10-15% of revenue).
Founding a company does not equal to selling your soul to the devil. It is the best way to move your science forward.
This is what I try to convince the most brilliant scientists to believe in.
The best researchers became researchers as they love to make new science and are really good at it. Business is seen as a distraction to science, something to stay out of. It is evil -- either a prime one or a necessary one. Of course I am exaggerating, but at the same time I am sure that many scientists find themselves thinking along these lines - at least for a moment sometimes.
"Harvard spinoff promises genome sequencing for $30"
This was the headline from FierceBiotech Research, a biotech journal. It's also a game changing development for the industry as a whole and part of a bigger trend of personalized cancer medicine. The first time scientists sequenced a human genome it cost $ 3 billion. Then it went to $ 6 million (2006), then $ 60,000 (2008), in June 2009 Illumina pushed it to $ 20,000, Nov 6 2009 Complete Genomics promised $ 4,400. The prediction for the coming year? $ 1,000 in 2-3 years and further down to $ 100 in 5-10 years.
“This is the first step to turn our Advanced Therapy Access Program results into cancer therapeutics”, comments Pekka Simula, CEO and co-founder.
Oncolytic viruses enter into cancer cells where they aggressively replicate. The replication kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
The next generation oncolytic viruses address the key challenges of cancer therapy: They mediate sustained anti-tumor immune response, are tumor selective, provide systemic response and have mild to moderate side effects compared to routine therapies.
I'm happy to see another acquisition coming from Sweden. So happy I was about to write how PlusFourSix is strengthening its offering within digital entertainment through the acquisition of Global Media Bank. Then decided not to. There's something more interesting that I wanted to share.
Petteri Koponen, Jaiku co-founder and now partner at Lifeline Ventures, shared many interesting tidbits about his career as an entrepreneur at Aalto Entrepreneur Society Bootcamp event, but the best part was him telling about the emotional roller coaster that an entrepreneur is bound to go through (jump into 23.02 on the video, if you want to go straight to the 'emotional part'). Just as Koponen says, it's exhausting and the lows are really low and highs are really high, but once you get the taste, it's very hard or even impossible to go back to working for the man.
ArcticEvening Tallinn sold out yesterday, but we decided to add another 50 tickets to the event. The evening will be a very interesting one with 3 entrepreneurs in different stages of their company explaining about the importance of marketing and how it is made successful for the company. You can read more about the event in our previous blog post, but just to sum it up we'll have Martin Koppel from Fortumo, Petteri Koponen (former Jaiku Co-Founder) from Lifeline Ventures and Kai Lemmetty from Floobs.
Early next month we will go to Tallinn, Estonia to hold our end-of-the-year ArcticEvening in co-operation with OpenCoffee Club Tallinn and Connect Estonia. The event will take place on 3. December and focus on startup marketing. We will hold a panel under the 'What is marketing for startups and how to do it effectively'
Yet again, we have a solid lineup coming: An experienced serial entrepreneur that have a several exits under his belt and two young guns who are on their way to their fist big hits. See our list of panelist below and figure out who's who.
The ticket sales are open and the price is the only right one, the tickets are free. Go get yours while they last! We will announce the venue in due course once we get them confirmed.
If you haven’t been to ArcticEvenings before, we suggest you take a look at videos from previous events.
We just heard yesterday that Jyri Engeström, Jaiku co-founder, is leaving his Product Manager job at Google after his two year earn out is up. Today Petteri Koponen, the other Jaiku co-founder announced that he is leaving Google and joining Lifeline Ventures, a Finnish startup accelerator that's part of the Vigo program (See our previous stories on Lifeline Venture here and here).
This not such a big jump as Petteri worked at Google in a wide variety of roles that gave him an ideal view into what was happening in the market. First Petteri worked at the Android product team and subsequently on Google's New Business team, which continuously searches for and works with startups that partner with Google. It's exciting to follow how the Vigo program evolves. At least Lifeline Ventures seem to be already hard at work. Petteri told me that they have already done some investments even though the whole program is just coming together.