Our 70+ coaches are experienced serial entrepreneurs, angel investors, VCs and other industry experts who have first-hand experience on founding companies.
They truly, genuinely know the problems, issues and challenges today’s startups are facing, and they give honest, brutal feedback as that’s the fastest way to move forward.
Unlike many others, our coaches can’t be bought – they work pro bono.
Design is just formalized common sense. Juska has worked at global design agencies like Fjord and taught strategy and experience design at the Aalto University. Major influences include user-centered design, Toyota Production System and rhetorical theory.
Ilkka is Startup Sauna Foundation’s Chairman and Startup Sauna’s ex-head coach, or as we call him, Admiral Stone. We can assure you that the Admiral will make startups go through blood, sweat, tears and extreme heat in order to have a chance to survive in real life.
Ilkka is currently working as a partner at Inventure – a Finnish high tech venture capital firm. Ilkka is a serial entrepreneur. His passion is to build companies that make a difference. He started his career by working 2 years for Kone Elevators. Since then he has been growing half a dozen companies from ground up to a successful exit. In his last full time assignment he was the founding CEO of Wicom Communications, which was acquired by SAP AG. He worked at SAP for 3 years as the Senior Vice President for Business Communication Management. 2009 onwards he has dedicated a considerable amount of time on developing the startup ecosystem on our region. Today he is a very proud member of Slush and Startup Sauna teams.
An entrepreneurial dynamo with an ability to recognize, ignite and develop entrepreneurial potentialSpecialties: Entrepreneurship, Raising Finance, Business Creativity
Tuomas is responsible for the coordination of investment operations including fund management and finances at Inventure. Tuomas is also actively involved in creating value in the portfolio companies, and manages the investments in the portfolio companies Conmio, IPTune, Rightware, Thinglink, and Whitevector. Prior to joining Inventure Tuomas worked as CFO for a mobile developer Rovio Mobile Oy. He has also worked as an attorney and in-house legal counsel for Nokia.
M&A investment banking background in SEB Enskilda (London, Stockholm, Helsinki) and Co-founder and CEO for Futurice the fastest growing tech company in Finland (Deloitte Fast 50 2008) and 2 x the best place to work in Europe (GPTW 2012 & 2013). Currently in cross border investments & M&A transactions for Chinese VCs and Corporate Venturing divisions between China & Finland especially in Cleantech & IT segments.
Tapio Siik is the head of Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship. He has extensive Nokia background of around 17 years in various positions ranging from running large R&D organizations to Vice President level business line responsibilities. In the last seven years with Nokia he was a key member in Nokia VC investment teams, Nokia Venture Partners & Nokia Growth Partners, where he invested in companies like Bitboys Oy (acquired by AMD), Coding Technologies AB (acquired by Dolby), Sasken (IPO/India), WiderThan (IPO/Nasdaq), and many other startups globally. Tapio has held managerial positions also in other global companies including ABB & Intergraph.
Managing Partner at Reaktor Ventures.
Timo is an entrepreneur and investor. He co-founded CRF Health Ltd, a software company that turns paper data into electronic records in clinical trials, and was exited at €320 million in 2015. Currently, he is a co-founder of Lifeline Ventures, an early-stage venture fund, and is investing broadly from AI software to biotech. Hobbies include ice hockey, weight lifting and literature.
Dr. Olli Pekonen is a seasoned business executive specializing in industrial goods, software, immaterial property and licensing. He has a long background in running a software company (APLAC Solutions Oy, CTO and CEO positions) which was successfully merged with AWR Inc., a US company now part of National Instruments Inc. Currently Olli is with Beneq Oy and runs Beneq’s extensive IP portfolio containing e.g. well over 150 patent families. Olli is a Dr.Tech (electromagnetics) from Helsinki University of Technology (currently Aalto University), a Finnish Patent Attorney, and an MBA from AaltoEE. Olli is also a Chairman of the Finnish Association for Corporate Patent Agents, and the Secretary of LES Scandinavia’s Board. In his free time, Olli canoes, bikes, runs, free dives, reads and chills out with his family.
Johanna has several years of experience in assisting startups in their legal matters. Johanna's practice is focused on technology and intellectual property as well as media and data protection law. Johanna has particularly extensive knowledge of copyright law and regularly lectures on the subject. Johanna is a co-author of the book ”Startup Law Handbook”.
Solid international business professional with 20 years of P&L responsibilities and proven track record of delivering profitable growth results. Excellent commercial acumen based on analytical mind set and holistic understanding of business drivers in different functions. Expertise in creating and managing a whole value chain: establishing customer needs, developing products & services, designing business processes, marketing, commercialisation as well as day to day business leadership. Passionate about consumer experience. Experienced in driving change in international environment.
Petteri Koponen accelerates and invests in very early stage life-sciences and mobile companies at Lifeline Ventures where he is a Founding Partner.
Koponen has founded three mobile/Internet -related software and/or service companies, last of them being Jaiku (co-founded with Jyri Engeström). On October 9, 2007 Jaiku was acquired by Google.
Moaffak Ahmed is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of marketing and business development experience in Europe, North America and Asia.
Moaffak is currently Founding Partner at Superhero Capital. He is working on early-stage ventures run by passionate founders with massive ambitions. Superhero Capital is looking for the next superheroes aiming for global domination while changing the world for better. Investing in B2B software with the entrepreneurial twist.
Jussi Harvela has over 20 years of global high technology business experience in various management positions. He led Solid corporation as president & CEO after establishing Solid’s headquarters in Cupertino, California in 1999. He hold various executive positions with Solid in Finland 1993 – 1998 and was a board member 1996 – 2005. In 2007 Solid was acquired by IBM.
He is Co-Founder and General Partner at Veturi Venture Accelerator. Veturi Venture Accelerator works with passionate entrepreneurs and researchers to translate innovative ideas to significant growth companies. Founded by international serial entrepreneurs, Veturi provides seed funding, strategic guidance and hands-on participation to accelerate your venture
Harvela is also an advisory board member in a number of national technology commercialization programmes including TEKES TULI, Centre of Expertise Ubiquitous Computing & Digibusiness Program, and VTT Ventures.
Harvela received a master’s degree in software engineering, international marketing, and business strategy from the Helsinki University of Technology. His other interests include music, sailing, hunting, fishing and cooking.
Otto Hilska co-founded Nodeta, an agile Ruby on Rails shop, andFlowdock, the chat-based team inbox for software developers. Along theway he and his team have helped the community by building stuff likeAPIdock, a social documentation site for Ruby developers.
As Flowdock’s chief executive Otto has built a lean startup, andimplemented many ideas based on Steve Blank’s customer developmenttheory. Flowdock is growing rapidly, and they have recently raisedfunding from prominent Silicon Valley investors, including MichaelArrington’s CrunchFund, Gil Penchina, Mårten Mickos and IDG Ventures.
Pontus Stråhlman is a serial entrepreneur and recently a full time angel investor and FiBAN board member. Pontus started angel investing in 2014, and has been an active member in the investment community ever since. He is also the lead angel in the syndication that is behind the investment prize in the winner of the Slush 2016 Pitch100 competition.
I am a senior marketing leader with product marketing as my favourite and defining area. I know how to design, develop, and market consumer products, services, and apps. I have also worked with digital products (web, apps, services) and marketing/sales throughout my career and understand the potential digital brings across industries. As leader, I have built and led marketing organizations, from start-up size teams to up to 200 people, and been responsible for businesses with sales of several billion USD annually. As person, I like working with people, as part of the team, and I am good at making people believe and bringing energy to them. I love my work best when I get to think about and distil the essence of products or businesses, build them, and inspire people to believe in them - this is for sure my passion and forte. I am strong believer in company culture and values - to me they are essential for success. Outdoor sports, mountains, and beauty of nature are my personal passions and sources of inspiration. And my Wife, and Family, is the light behind it all.
Founding Partner at Superhero Capital.
Aape is Founder and Chief Evangelist of Funzi, a Finnish corporation that produces a mobile learning and information service with an initial focus on emerging markets. Aape is also an entrepreneurship coach and a frequent lecturer at universities internationally and accelerators such as Startup Sauna and The Founder Institute. In his past, Aape has been the CEO and founder of Ympyra and CMO at Exomi
Osma has been hacking stuff since the age of 11, for the past 17 years professionally, spanning code, organizations, business, a little bit of devices and recently again more code. He started with dot-coms at Razorfish, worked on financial systems with Quartal, and spent almost 9 years on games and social entertainment as CTO of Sulake. Since 2012, he’s matched business goals with data-driven solutions as founder and CEO of Metrify.io. He believes that success is built from combining a forward-looking vision with iterative working methods and data-hungry, self-directing teams.
Jan-Erik is a managing partner and co-founder of Helsinki Ventures, a startup accelerator focused in digital innovation in Russia and East Europe. During his 15+ years in startup business, Jan-Erik has experience as entrepreneur, accelerator and early stage angel investor, including advisor and director seats in promising startups. Having lead innovative teams in professional services, technology, UX and marketing communication, Jan-Erik loves disruptive ideas, creativity and uncompromising execution.
Jarmo has been top-performing and experienced Board Member / CEO / General Manager / VP of Sales / Business Coach in many global IT companies during the last 25 years. He is also experienced with startups. Fast growth and internationalization are something he is very skilled at. He has worked in IT business, gaming industry as well as in car industry. He has executed several acquisitions and turn arounds. He has held over 25 board memberships globally. He has interest in helping people to grow as leaders and companies to succeed internationally.
CEO of Supercell
Pekka is a serial software entrepreneur and business angel, who has started several successful software companies by himself. Pekka has strong technical and business expertise. His special focus is in growing SaaS businesses, web analytics and Internet marketing.
Pekka was the founder of Snoobi, one of the leading European web analytics companies, which got acquired by Fonecta in 2012. In 2009, The Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association granted Pekka the Software Entrepreneur of the Year award. He’s also been one of the founders in software development companies Solinor and Fraktio. Currently Pekka is the CEO of Leadfeeder, a startup which turns website visitors into sales leads using Google Analytics data.
Kaija Pöysti is a serial entrepreneur and business angel with extensive board experience from e.g. VTT Ventures, Idean, Flockler and SetS. She grew her first company, Trantex, from 1 to 260 people, on pure revenue growth. Her portfolio startups include Flockler, Enreach, Picodeon and Culinar. She has a degree in operations research, and is especially interested in data science, analytics and industrial internet, and developing disruptive service businesses.
The Drill Sergeant
This tough cookie’s got experience from both sides of the table, with vast expertise ranging from software to electronics and optics as well as health tech. He’s been fiercely learning the tricks of the trade as a VC, and pushed businesses into global markets as a CEO of venture-funded companies.
You might want to take the former Head Coach of Startup Sauna seriously, because this hardy chief makes business rookies go through blood, sweat and tears in order to learn what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
Jaakko is an angel investor and startup advisor. He’s currently involved in 7 startups as an investor and 3 as a board member and advisor. He’s also a member of the board of the Finnish Business Angels Network FiBAN. In the past, he was a partner and VP/CEO of 2 software companies, both of which were acquired by another company. Additionally, Jaakko has been responsible for direct sales, channel sales, and customer account management at various midsize to corporate IT and SW companies both in domestic and international markets.
Jaakko believes in customer- centered business development, where close relationships with customers are made early in startups’ life cycle. His focus in coaching is on the startup’s go-to-market model, from pricing to customer segments and sales channel.
Founding Partner and co-owner at T1Consulting Oy. Pentti has worked on numerous CEO and other senior management positions during his career. He specialises in change management, especially changing company’s mindset from product orientation to client relationships and customer care. He has notable experience in advising small and medium-sized companies in generating new businesses and approve profit by increasing customers loyalty with better customer care. Pentti is a change manager with strong drive and significant strategic and administration experience. He works also as an executive business coach as well as helps selected start-ups with pro bono basis. Pentti is a keen bow hunter, golfer and downhill skier, and he loves to cook delicious meals for his family and friends.
Mike Bradshaw (@ ymb) is an evangelist for Solu (http://solu.co). Mike can often be found coaching early stage start-ups and entrepreneurs in the fundamentals of pitching. The one true way to annoy Mike, is to read "bullet point" slides during a pitch (as bullet point slides are a crime against Humanity). In his free time Mike is; a Coach at StartupSauna, a co-driver with the Travelling Salesman project, curator of the Helsinki StartupDigest, enthusiastic visitor of sauna, beer drinker and the holder of a British passport.
Timo is co-founder and partner at Inventure, a Helsinki & Shanghai based venture capital company investing actively to seed and early-stage companies in the Nordics and Baltic States. He is working mainly on B2B software, semiconductor, new material, and MEMS companies but also has a strong interest in gaming and health technologies. Prior founding Inventure Timo was an active private investor in the start-up scene in Finland with a an excellent track record.Timo has over 17 years experince in coaching, managing and internationalise early stage companies.
Paolo is CEO & Co-founder of Vertical Health accelerator, where is heading the acceleration program. Paolo has been involved in business acceleration and startups for several years; as Director of AppCampus the Aalto University-Microsoft-Nokia program with a 21M€ fund he helped accelerate the Windows Phone ecosystem across the world. His previous work included running a 7 million people, 10M USD/year online community as a Vice President at Fox Mobile Distribution in Germany.
Earlier Paolo spent 12 years at Nokia serving as Director for Go-ToMarket of Services and Software, spending five years in Singapore and 2 to 6 months in 10 other countries. Earlier in his career he developed his Change Management and Process Improvement skills with General Electrics, working in the ED&C Business in Italy and with a six-month rotation in the Corporate Audit Staff based in Albany, USA.
Besides his passion for helping create new business and develop existing ones, Paolo is a triathlete and has a sweet tooth for sports related business and watches.
Ekaterina is an Investment Director at Inventure, a Nordic venture capital firm. At Inventure, Ekaterina oversees the Seed Program and works mainly with software, consumer internet, marketplaces and ecommerce companies. Prior to joining Inventure, Ekaterina has been involved in scaling several innovative companies, including a service design consultancy Fjord (acquired by Accenture Interactive) and an adtech startup Kiosked. Her passion lies in solving consumers' problems with design & technology.
Early stage funding, business models and B2B sales are Mikael’s areas of expertise. He gets Startup Sauna teams selling. Closing deals validates you’re actually solving a major problem for customers. Its what attracts investment for scaling your business.
Mikael is CEO and founder of Frosmo, single tag based web development software. Frosmo is over 100 people strong team operating in 12 markets, with people from nearly 40 countries and cultures! Customers include Lastminute, TUI, Veikkaus, Mondelez and hundreds of others. In addition Mikael is co-founder and chairman of the board of Dodreams, game development company behind the hit game Drive Ahead.
Pasi Ilola is the CEO of Planetify, which helps companies to grow their online businesses globally. Pasi has been building and leading profitable online businesses for 15 years, and has extensive experience in all aspects of managing the growth of a global online product. Pasi managed marketing globally for the Habbo Hotel virtual world, growing it past 100 million registered users, and built a virtual world called Virtual Magic Kingdom for the Walt Disney Company. He also founded a digital agency called Frantic, which he led as CEO for seven years, and most recently he was CEO of Suomi24, the largest social network in Finland.
CEO and Co-founder of Yousician - World's Largest Music Educator. Founded in late 2010, the mission of Yousician is to make musicality as common as literacy. Using cutting edge audio signal processing, games, real musical instruments and a lot of re-thinking and overcoming the limitations of traditional music education. Yousician makes it fun, easy and motivating to learn to play an instrument. With over 40 million users worldwide, Yousician is today the largest music educator worldwide.
The team raised a $1.5M seed round from Silicon Valley based True Ventures and has since built a profitable business with a team of over 50 people in Helsinki, Tampere in Finland and in Sydney Australia. In 2012, Yousician was chosen the hottest start-up in Finland (WIRED magazine), and Yousician apps have won over 30 international awards and prizes (SXSW, Launch.edu, European best learning game,…). Yousician was one of the Winners of Start-up sauna Spring 2011, so Chris is both a Startup Sauna coach and alumni.
Prior to Yousician, Chris was working as a Laser scientist and was a guitar and piano dropout. Chris holds a B.Sc. in Systems Engineering from Switzerland and a M.Sc. in Industrial Management from Finland. When not working, Chris spends his time hiking, kayaking, climbing, cycling, cooking vegetarian food and reading about technology and society. And yeah, playing the piano of course!
Torsti (Founder, Pivot5 Oy, and Vice Chairman at Finnish Business Angels), has 18 years of entrepreneur, leadership and investor experience in digital service business, marketing communication and corporate strategy. He is known as an unaffected added value seeker, service innovator and brand strategist.
Torsti’s latest accelerator and investor contributions have been with Proximi.io, Klevu, Media Content News, Musiclock, Netrauta.fi (EXIT 2015), Frank Students, Rovio, Tieto Corporation, Wärtsilä and Finnish National Gallery. His former employers have been Nokia (Corporate Strategy), Edita (CEO of a subsidiary, www.nordicmorning.fi), Satama Interactive Oyj (currently www.trainershouse.com) and hasan & partners (CEO).
Torsti holds a Vice Chairman of the Board position at Finnish Business Angels Association (FIBAN), Chairman of the Board position at Proximi.io, Board member positions at Klevu and Frank Students.
Artturi has over 20 years of ICT industry experience and well known and referenced in Finland as one of the pioneering software entrepreneurs and organizers of industry interests at large
– Venture capitalist with a serial entrepreneur background– Chairman of the Finnish Venture Capital Association– Co-founder of Nexit Ventures, transatlantic VC fund focusing in Mobile & Wireless market
I'm a serial (and parallel) entrepreneur by heart. In 2001, ended up co-founding the first really popular social networking, service in Finland, IRC-Galleria; some 80% of 13-25 year old Finns spent on average 45 minutes daily on the site - and that was before mobile Internet! I've later co-founded a few companies and I also help some more as an advisor. My other passion is music and especially vintage music electronics, and as sort-of-hobby-business I run a recording studio and repair shop for vintage keyboards, tube amplifiers, open-reel tape recorders and such.
Sami is an experienced venture capital investor, driving early-stage VC investments in the Nordics since 1997. Since founding Inventure in 2005, Sami and the Inventure team have completed over 40 early-stage technology investments from venture capital funds with capital over EUR 100 million. In 2012, Inventure took two significant steps in the evolution of the Nordic venture capital scene, first by opening the business development office in Shanghai, and secondly, starting close co-operation in building the seed-stage cases together with Startup Sauna in the Nordics and the Baltics.
Sami covers several technology sectors including semiconductors, new materials, MEMS, sensors, and internet-of-things. Further and more importantly, building entrepreneurial, commercial-grade teams, and razor-sharp go-to-market targets is Sami’s every day topic. At Startup Sauna coaching, Sami typically pushes the companies and pitches towards a revolution, major disruption, and super scalability – Think Big is the name of the venture game. Sami is a board member at Canatu, Silex Microsystems, Miradore, Freespee and Mekitec.
Janne has both start-up and corporate experience having been a co-founder and CTO of Solid (1991-2001) and then working in various business development, supply chain and partnering positions at Nokia & Microsoft 2002-2015. He has personally negotiated multiple strategic partnership and licensing deals, many with lifetime values of tens of millions of dollars.
Janne can help in crystallising the technology - product - business model / market fit thinking as well as provide useful insights with respect to conducting B2B sales efforts to large corporations (contacting, sales cycle, business model selection, negotiations, closing).
Riku is Startup Sauna’s ex-head coach and a seasoned entrepreneur with strong emphasis on growth investments on small and medium-sized companies.
During my entrepreneurial, management and investment career, which started in year 1988, I have been founder, director and investor in more than thirty ventures. Out of those companies, ten have been exited and five gone to zero (some valuable lessons learnt from these) while the rest are still in my portfolio.
During my tenure two companies have grown from zero revenue to five million range, one company to ten million, one to twenty million and one over thirty million of annual revenue.
– Over 20 years of experience on B-to-C business as owner, manager and investor in several different fields of business
– Several financing and re-financing rounds in micro to medium size companies
– Areas of interest: Private equity financing, Growth, Execution, Financing and IT development as a strategic tool in managing customers and sales
Juha “Sumppi” Kaunisto is currently founder at Big Tags. He has over 15 years of experience in building business in the Internet, with deep first hand experience on every part of the process from business strategy, marketing and concept to backend and user experience design and implementation. In short, the whole damn thing. In coaching he focuses especially in the tactical issues of startup development, from service concept to the actual end user experience.
Mårten Mickos is CEO of HackerOne, the world's most popular bug bounty platform. Previously he ran the cloud business of HP after they acquired Eucalyptus Systems where Mårten was CEO. Before that, Mårten was CEO of MySQL AB for 8 years. In his spare time, Mårten blogs about leadership topics on the School of Herring. You will also find him on Twitter as @martenmickos and on Quora.
Mr. Micki Honkavaara is a technology entrepreneur and executive with 20 years of international technology business experience, 16 of which with CEO responsibilities. He currently serves as Senior Director at Nvidia Corporation and as Managing Director of Nvidia Finland. Previously, in 1999-2006 Micki served as CEO of Hybrid Graphics, which he helped transform into a highly-respected international software company and ultimately steered it toward a successful acquisition by Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) in 2006. Micki is also a partner of Veturi Growth Partners, a venture incubator that provides seed funding, strategic guidance and hands-on participation to help entrepreneurs translate business ideas into growth companies. Micki is also a partner of Superhero Capital and co-founder of Koukkis Investment, that provides funding for early stage technology companies. Micki’s main role at Veturi, Superhero Capital and Koukkis investment comapanies is to work with CEO’s and company management. Micki has also been selected as the software entrepreneur of the year 2005 in Finland.
20 years of experience in CEO and COO roles heading sales, marketing, and operations in Europe, Asia and Americas in mobile, media and IT businesses. Co-Founder at seed investor and accelerator Pivot5, Chairman of Prodeko Ventures, Chairman of adtech provider MCN Media Content News, Board member at Aalto University Executive Education, Board Member at equity research media Inderes. Past: Chairman at taxi-booking marketplace Cabforce (exit), Chairman at cloud-TV solution provider Booxmedia (exit), CEO of telecom IT solution provider Tecnotree Corporation (NASDAQ:TEM1V), COO & Managing Director at mobile entertainment content distributor FOX Mobile of NewsCorp (NASDAQ:NWSA), General Manager Asia-Pacific at messaging software provider First Hop (exit), Head of Strategy & Business Development and Nokia Networks (NYSE: NOK). Founded 8 companies, lived in 8 countries, served 24 boards. M.Sc. (eng) in industrial management from Aalto University & Trium MBA from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, London School of Economics and HEC Paris.
Jaakko regularly advises startups, as well as investors and acquirers, on a broad range of legal matters ranging from company formation to venture financings, international expansion and exits. Jaakko has also been acting as a member of the board of several growth companies and startups.
Jaakko is the Chairman of the Finnish IT Law Association and a frequently requested chairman and speaker at various startup-related events and seminars. Jaakko is also a co-author of the book ”Startup Law Handbook”.
Ville Miettinen, Wili, is a serial entrepreneur and an investor. The last couple of years Miettinen has been particularly interested in disruptive technologies, like crowd sourcing, cloud labor, and human computation.
He has a long background in coding, computer graphics, and was one of the founders of Hybrid Graphics (later NVIDIA Finland), a pioneer in real-time 3D graphics technologies. Currently he is one of the founders of Microtask.
Is best known as the Mighty Eagle of Rovio, creator of Angry Birds.
But Peter has a whole lot under his belt. He founded the HP Bazaar while working for the original Silicon Valley startup, Hewlett-Packard (that started in the Garage by Bill and Dave in 1939). He also started MobileMonday in 2000, the biggest network of mobile professionals in 100+ cities. Peter loves startups, branding and grassroot communities, so he also started Slush in 2008 and created the StartupSauna brand too along the way. Peter is living the Finnish dream in Espoo, Finland, the capital of Eurasia with his wife and two kids. It’s what he would call #agoodstart ;)
Harri is seasoned tech journalist. He has been covering ICT, health tech, and biotech during his career and now he works as a managing editor of the biggest Finnish tech weekly, Tekniikka&Talous. Harri helps startups understand how media works and how to get good publicity. He knows how to tell an impactful story. He has been lecturing about media relations numerous times to many companies in Finland and even abroad.
Harry has a soul of a ‘product guy’, hunting for new products, disruptive technologies and amazing business ideas. During his career, Harry has been running his own startups both in Helsinki and Silicon Valley. He has also been in VP and Director level positions in large tech companies like Nokia, in creation of new business opportunities. Since 2009, he has been full time in startup investments and acceleration. Harry has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Technical University of Helsinki (Aalto). Harrys motto: “The only real power that any company has, is coming from its products people buy - or don’t.”
Internationally awarded marketing expert turned investor, Saku has a track of investing and accelerating in twenty+ startups in digital space.
Nowadays partner in Helsinki Ventures, a boutique accelerator and early stage investor based in – well, guess where.
CEO of Dodreams, a gaming company based in Helsinki, Finland, who develop skill mini-games for iOS and Android platforms. Their recent game Drive Ahead!, was downloaded over a million times during its launch week. Now that he works in mobile casual gaming, looks like all those hours playing Nintendo’s Oil Panic, Donkey Kong, and Mickey & Donald finally paid off.
As a startup entrepreneur he has launched entertainment apps and services related to interactive narratives (Soap Opera as Facebook App), citizen journalism (web service for suggesting taglines for election candidates), and ending loneliness in the world (live video chat on the iPad).
He’s also finalizing a PhD on Marketing Spirit which is research into re-interpretations of the Marketing Concept as a Business Philosophy. He coachee early stage startups with the Summer of Startups program at the Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (http://aaltoes.com/sos/).
Kristoffer Lawson is an unrepentant entrepreneur and business kickstarter with a long background in product and technology innovation. He was a key founder of bank disruptor Holvi, where he helped guide the vision while building many of the core technologies, the user interface and developing messaging and sales channels as the key evangelist. He is also founder of the largest digital art festival in the Nordics, The Alternative Party.
He relaxes by running the Travelling Salesman blog, which meticulously documents startups of the world through crazy expeditions. In addition to being a stubborn perfectionist in usability, he has coded in almost everything from Motorola 68k assembler to Self. He is an active in the demoscene hacker community, loves Dr Who, listens to too much avant garde electronic music, and drives a Caterham 7.
Markko Vaarnas is specialized in internationalizing B2B software and service companies. His experience accumulates from Global Intelligence Alliance Group (GIA), a company he co-founded in 1995 and successfully exited in late 2014. At the time that the company was sold, GIA had 10 offices across 4 continents, and a vast majority of the 15 mEUR revenue came from outside its home market, Finland. In January 2015, Markko co-founded Takeoff Partners with the mission to create positive impact to people and the society by helping business owners to grow their businesses internationally. He executes this mission through serving as a part-time advisor, coach and angel investor for growth companies, as well as a consultant and interim leader for targeted internationalization projects and programs.
Inka is Startup Sauna’s past head coach (2012-2014).
She is an entrepreneur and seed investor with a track in building growth companies, online community services and mobile software businesses in Scandinavia, New York, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv.
Being the co-founder and chairwoman of Pivot5 (past KoppiCatch) seed investor and accelerator company with 20+ portfolio companies ant 5 exits, she is passionate about service and business innovation and working with startups in the fields of mobile technology, big data & analytics and platform businesses in particular.
Inka has acted as CEO, VP Sales, Chief Product Officer and in strategic business development and VC investor roles both in startups and bigger companies. She has invested in 30+ companies during her career and raised several funding rounds from 50-100k€ pre-seed and seed rounds up to 30M€ of Series A/B. In addition to active involvement in her portfolio companies, she is also a board member at Nokian Tyres Plc, Fiskars Group Plc, YIT Plc and StartupSauna Foundation.
Taneli Tikka has had an intensive & varied entrepreneurial career since 1999. His work with growth entrepreneurship & social media startups earned him the honorary title of ICT Opinion Leader of 2010. More than a decade ago Taneli quit his seemingly safe engineering job at Nokia to found his first startup. His entrepreneurial journey has included couple of major failures and several very successful companies. Taneli has been in leadership positions in companies like: IRC-Galleria, Dopplr, Soprano Plc, Taika, and Magenta. As a board director or advisor he has worked with more than 30 companies, including: Stardoll, Applifier, TLD Registry, Web of Trust, Umbra Software, BrandMNGR, Netcycler, Transfluent and PackageMedia. Taneli has studied in the Aalto University School of Economics, graduating 1st in academic standing from the Executive MBA class of 2004. Taneli has in-depth personal experience from venture capital and risk financing: having closed 13 venture rounds as an entrepreneur and having financed a couple of select companies himself as a business angel. He also has multiple exits from the startups over the years.
Elina is an active angel investor and a CEO for a consulting and investment company Fit Advice. She is a Chairman of the Board for Blucup and has two other startups in her angel portfolio. Previously Elina has made a very successful career of 27 years at Accenture in many business leadership roles with P&L responsibility and growing business to over 100 MUSD.
Her approach to startups is business driven and agile to quickly find out what works in terms of business models, attracting customers and developing services. She has in depth business understanding working in multiple industries complemented with a long experience working with IT and leading technical teams. She is fully fluent in discussing with top management on business issues as well as with techies on IT topics and combining those views. Elina’s special interest is in defining how digitalization changes the way people work, what kind of leadership and what competencies are needed. She coaches startups mainly on their business model, go-to-market strategy, software solutions, sales, marketing and early stage financing. As a coach Elina has a passion to make things happen with teams.
Jorma has extensive experience in international business, its contracts and legal matters. He has been working in legal, sales and human resources management roles in Singapore and in Finland. Between 1995 and 2008 he worked in Nokia and after that he joined a mobile media start up called Blyk. Currently he is providing hands-on legal support in Laissa and he is also a board member in Futurice and Juuriharja.
Paavo has been a CEO and Co-Founder at many entertainment and tech companies in last 15 years and has been a speaker in almost all biggest music business conferences in North America and Europe. He is an expert in Direct-to-Consumer marketing and sales and evangelist of lean startup methods.
He has lived also in Silicon Valley in California and led teams in San Francisco, New York, London and Finland. Both huge corporations and small startups have expressed he is an amazing advisor and sparring partner who can shake brains of many kinds of professionals and can create groundbreaking ideas.
Partner at Pivot5.
EIR at Reaktor Ventures. Co-founder of Grey Area, Slush, ArcticStartup.