February 2, 2017
On December 19, 2016 we went to buy a new printer. After pressing Command+P and Enter we had hundreds of pages of contract documentation in our hands. The next day we took the big pile of paper to the Finnish Patent and Registration Office and that was it: the first closing of Icebreaker’s fund was done at €14 million.
In this post we are sharing a bit of background about the fund and what’s going to happen next.
Let's start with a short intro about us. Icebreaker’s founding partners are, in order from shortest to tallest on the picture above; Riku Seppälä, Aleksi Partanen and Lasse Lehtinen. We’re all in our thirties and our background is mainly in startups where we’ve been as founders, key executives and investors. In our team we have in addition Teddie Wardi as part-time Special Advisor and Mikko-Jussi Suonenlahti as Chairman.
Most accelerators and seed funds look for startups with plans and teams already in place. We want to support talented individuals way before this stage. That’s why we’re building a community of current and future founders, who we call pre-founders. The pre-founders in our community are a diverse group of people who have a few things in common. First, they all have 5+ years of work experience and successful careers. Second, they have shown that they are great at what they do – whether it’s in business, tech, design, research or anything between. Our idea is to leverage this diverse community to catalyze new high-potential teams and provide a lot of support for the founders at every stage. Read here how it works in practice.
We invest €40k – €350k in Finnish software-driven companies in angel and seed stages. We look for companies building competitive advantage based on technology.
The idea for a VC fund and community came when we noticed a problem in our personal networks. If you’ve studied, for instance, computer science for five years and then worked another five to ten years as a developer, your professional network will mostly consist of other developers. Business talent have the same problem. Many of our friends and people we know started at Helsinki School of Economics or Helsinki University of Technology in early 2000’s and after that they have made successful careers in various industries. Today they have a lot of skills and domain expertise that are required for building successful startups, however, they are lacking the network of complementary co-founders.
From a global perspective, many successful startups have been founded based on academic research. You probably didn't know that Finland has the largest amount of researches per capita in the world. However, even the most interesting research findings rarely make it out of the lab because it’s difficult to form complementary teams around the ideas, which in turn is the requirement for funding.
There hasn’t been a working solution for team-formation even though we have thousands of talented, complementary pre-founders in Finland. Our aim is to tackle this issue at least partly through our community and fund. We’re betting that the most successful Finnish companies will come from supporting and funding this group of people.
The fund size enables us to make dozens of initial investments in angel and seed stage, and allocate a large amount of follow-on reserves to a handful of most succesful companies. Read more about our first seed investment here.
We’re very bullish that out of hundreds of people in the community several exceptional teams and companies will be established on a yearly basis. We believe that investing in these companies will generate competitive returns for the investors in our fund.
The investors in the fund (the Limited Partners or 'LPs') are Tekes Venture Capital (a Finnish state-owned Fund-of-Fund) , OP Financial Group (the largest financial institution in Finland), Elo Mutual Pension Insurance Company (a Finnish pension fund), Seafarers' Pension Fund (a Finnish pension fund), Tradeka Investment (a large Finnish co-operative), Ålands Ömsesidiga Försäkringsbolag (a Finnish pension fund), Icebreaker’s team and several entrepreneurs. At this point we want to thank our investors for supporting our vision and making it possible. More investors can join in during the first half of 2017.
If you want to get in touch with us, you’ll find our contact info here.
Lasse, Riku & Aleksi