The Comprehensive Guide to Finnish Startup Ecosystem – P2/2

Finnish start-up ecosystem

In the previous blog, we have covered what is Finnish start-up ecosystem, where to start when you have an idea, events and meet-ups to keep an eye on. In the second blog post, we introduce to you where to find financial back-ups, angel investors to follow and special sessions for foreign startup founders.

Financial sources and investment funds to keep an eye on

In this section, we will discuss more the money stuff. The biggest dream of a startup is to build a company, scale it up then to get million euros deal from a venture investor. However, startup life does not always follow that principle. At the very beginning stage, a small amount of money could be like a fortune for startup founders to cover basic costs. Therefore, we will start from the most visible and easy-to-get financial sources to more significant venture capital funds.  

The Public employment and business services of Finland (TE) offers a monthly grant to startup founders for 6-12 months. You are eligible for this grant if you are unemployed or about to quit your job to start a business. The applying procedure is quite simple. You need to make a business plan and make sure that your company has not launched yet by the time you applied for the grant.  

Finnvera is a specialized financing company owned by the State of Finland. Finnvera provides financing for the start, growth, and internationalization of enterprises. The maximum loan you can have is 100,000 euros. It would be the best if you put up a self-financing portion of at least 20 percent. 

financial sources
Where to get funds for your business

Creandum is a venture capital fund focusing on innovation from Stockholm, San Francisco, and Berlin. They have a wide range of startup covering different industries. Their investment focus is on technology application and digitalization.

Servisen has invested in more than 100 small-to-medium sized companies since the 1990s and has become recognized as a highly competent investor and corporate developer.

+impact Accelerator is focusing on early stage, Nordic, startups whose solution addresses at least one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

NordicBAN’s 11 angel network members represent over 1700 business angels in the Nordic & Baltic region. If one or several of their angels are keen about getting involved in your company, NordicBAN can help facilitate the investment round.

Wave Ventures founded in 2016, operates in Finland and Sweden. Their investment focus is the startup at a very early stage which has global ambitions and breakthrough idea.  

Conor invests in early stage technology companies with the potential and drive to become global winners in their industry categories. The fund operates in Espoo, Stockholm, and London. Their core expertise lies in designing business models, go-to-market plans, and scaling strategies.

Icebreaker.vc operates in companies from Nordic and Baltic companies at different stages from idea to angel or seed stages. With hundreds of community members within the network, you can find from their community potential team members, clients, and advisors.

Business Finland Venture Capital Ltd is a state-owned company. The fund does not offer investment directly to companies but invests in venture capital funds which invest in Finnish startups.

Teke Finland

Popular angel investors worthy to follow

Founder & CEO at Microtask. Founder & CTO of Hybrid Graphics (Nvidia Finland). Coach at Startup Sauna.

VC with Balderton Partners

Entrepreneur, founding partner at Lifeline Ventures. Investing in early-stage companies in health, Web and games.

Early stage investor, General Partner at YesVC. Founder Ditto (sold to Groupon)  and Jaiku (sold to Google)

Vice President at SendGrid. Entrepreneur, Technologist, Strategist, Startup Advisor, VC Whisperer.

Hottest companies from the Finnish startup ecosystem

Hereby are some successful companies emerging from the Finnish startup ecosystem. Starting from an idea or a student project, now these companies are becoming well-established organizations operating internationally. Some of them are still young startups but are still worth to keep an eye on because of their high potential to scale up.

Blueprint Genetics, founded in 2012, provides clinicians and their patients with comprehensive, high-quality tools and resources that help diagnose genetic conditions from its bases in Helsinki, San Francisco, and Dubai. With more than 220 different diagnostic tests available, searching through our genome to sniff out everything from hereditary cancers to the potential for heart problems using nothing more than a DNA sample, it’s a one-stop diagnosis shop. The company raised €14m last year.

Blueprint Genetics

Happeo offers a unified browser tab for all digital tools that a company may need. Happeo unifies a digital workplace and collaboration platform into a social intranet. Employees connect by posting in channels and collaborate through rich integrations with G Suite such as Google Docs or Spreadsheet together with Slack channel. The company has cooperation with companies such as Givaudan, BMW and Randstad Sourceright and raised $8 million last year in a late seed fund.

HappyOrNot is of Finland’s biggest startup success stories. The company provides real-time mood sensor stands that you see at the end of airport security checks, on shop floors and by office doorways. The company started with a single terminal in a small supermarket and now has countless terminals logging hundreds of millions of responses at airports – including Heathrow – and businesses across the world. They’ve also secured €13.2 million in investment.

ICEYE provides reliable and timely satellite imagery to both commercial and governmental organizations. Using SAR technology, ICEYE can monitor acute issues, such as illegal fishing, oil spills, melting icebergs, and floods. The company launched its first micro-satellite (the world’s lightest of its kind) in January 2018 and a second one at the end of 2018. The company has now raised $65 million in funding and plans to have a network of 18 satellites up by 2020.

GetJenny is a human-directed AI platform which allows companies to automate conversations and tasks with chatbots without programming. GetJenny’s AI chatbot solution automates the bulk of repetitive and routine conversations so that customer service representatives can utilize their time efficiently and focus on other more complex tasks that require in-depth expertise, life experience, and a human touch. The company has raised €2M in seed funding to continue its expansion across the Nordics and the MENA region.

GetJenny

Leadesk is a call center software in the cloud based on the SaaS model founded 2010 with €5.5M in funding. The company’s software aims at companies which have whole or part of business activities outsources. The platform is for both the outsourcer & outsourced to work on. Leadesk offers outbound activities of a call center which is an area that most legacy solutions have overlooked.

Smartyly.io is an automation software to help brands launch and optimize campaigns faster and easier. Smartly.io has raised $20 Million investment in secondary funding round. A 4-year-old company that focuses on automating advertising was able to show profits after the first two years. In June 2017 Smartly reached a $1 billion in annual ad spend on its platform. They have offices in San-Francisco, New York, Berlin, Helsinki, Singapore, and Buenos Aires.

Varjo is a tech startup providing VR devices with the resolution of VR devices at a fraction of what the average human eye can see. Varjo VR-1 delivers a resolution of 60 pixels per degree – the equivalent of 20/20 vision. Varjo aims to counteract both problems by increasing the resolution on VR displays, including the Rift and Vive by 17 times – taking it up to the same resolution we see through our eyes. In the two short years the company has been in existence, it’s managed raised nearly €13 million in the process.

Whalelend is a trademark of Tesseract Group Oy. The company is based in Helsinki, Finland and backed by the Nordic’s leading VC funds, including Taaleri – one of Finland’s largest publicly traded asset management companies, and Business Finland – the public research funding agency of Finland. Icebreaker has invested in the company along with Taaleri and Estlander & Partners. Whalelend first product is aimed towards individuals or institutions looking to earn passive income on their cryptocurrency assets. Currently, WhaleLend is working on launching several new products in 2019.

Check how we boost Whalelend’s users acquisition by 70% in 3 months.

Wolt, founded in 2014, offers food delivery services with the mission of providing convenience for modern-day consumers. The food delivery solution is similar Uber Eats or Deliveroo operated in the Nordics and Baltics area. More than 1,400 restaurants are signed up to the service in over 20 cities.  With the support from Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen and Skype founder Niklas Zennström, the company has raised €13.3 million funding still now.

Yousician is a music tech startup with a mission to help people learn to play instrument effectively. Yousician is the largest music educator in the world and with over 25 million users. It develops high-tech musical instrument learning software (web and mobile app) that gives users real-time feedback on how they play. Currently, Yousician is available for Guitar and Piano. The company has developed 4 award-winning products successfully raised $1.4M seed funding and was chosen WIRED magazines #1 hottest startup in Finland.

Special sessions for startup founders from outside Finland

You can establish a company in Finland even if you are not living in the country. The registration  process is transparent and easy to complete. Establishing a company can be done online. You also can move to Finland on a startup visa. All information and step-by-step guidance can be found on www.businessfinland.fi/. International companies can access the same benefits as Finnish companies. Opening a company takes a couple of weeks.

FinlandStartup
 Welcome to Finland. Credit here.

Establish a company in Finland:

  1. Select a company name. The name should be submitted to be verified to the Trade Register, which is maintained by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH).
  2. Open a bank account. The company requires a bank account to pay share capital, process payment transactions and support accounting.
  3. File a start of the business notification. Establishing and registering a business requires a notification be filled with the Trade Register and various Tax Administration registers.

All of these processes can be done online through Business Information System online services which require your online banking credentials to log in.

Finland offers the Startup Permit for international entrepreneurs from outside the EU Union moving to Finland on the ground of starting a business and become part of the Finnish startup ecosystem.

The process of obtaining a startup permit in Finland consists of 3 steps:

  1. You need to ask for Eligibility Statement from Business Finland by Describe your business plan according to the instructions given in the Template for the Eligibility Statement Request (rtf) and then submit your Eligibility Statement Request and other necessary documents to Business Finland by using the secure e-mail service available at https://asiointi.businessfinland.fi/suojaposti/
  2. If you are granted a positive decision from Business Finland, you can use the Eligibility Statement to apply for Finnish Startup Permit by making a residence permit application to Finnish Immigration Service. More information about applying the residence permit can be found at the Finnish Immigration Service’s website.
  3. Establish a company in Finland by following the process discussed above.

Finland has a very low population in the European Union with just over 5.5 million, but 10% of startups globally start from here. Thanks to the dynamic ecosystem and strong support from the states, Finland is a promising land for starting a business. Many successful cases of startups from Finland, especially the Uusimaa area are existing evidence to prove the efficiency of the Finnish Ecosystem. We hope that you have had a glance at the whole ecosystem in Finland and find yourself equipped with useful information to start with. We wish you all the best of luck!   

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Helmi Nguyen
Helmi Nguyen

Growth Hacker @Aurabear

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