What is your background briefly?
I have always been an entrepreneur. I co-founded my first more serious company in 2000. CRF Health Ltd is currently the leader in capturing patient data in clinical trials, and was sold for EUR 320 million in 2015.
Does it seem like a logical progression to what you do now?
Yes. In 2009, I co-founded Lifeline Ventures, investing in early stage tech broadly from biotech to mobile games. We were the first investors in Supercell, Europe’s first decacorn. I am feeling more like an entrepreneur with ability to invest rather than a traditional venture investor. I believe that you need to have been an entrepreneur to become a great investor.
— Slush (@SlushHQ) November 24, 2016
How are you involved in the Slush event?
I am in the board of directors of Slush, the conference organizer. 🙂 It is my third year now in that role.
What do you look for in the speakers that you ask to come to Slush?
To share their deep personal experiences and true insights on building companies.
What will you be talking about?
My everlasting topic across past Slush conferences has been what large corporations can learn from startups.
— Timo Ahopelto (@timomj) November 3, 2016
What can corporations learn from startups?
Clarity of vision and targets, allowing teams to take responsibility and risk, trust on people to do things,
Looking back at your own startup experience what would you have done differently?
Nothing really. You need to make the mistakes. They create the greatest stories and learning experiences.
All big companies have started small and modest. PS: I love this picture! pic.twitter.com/O2PttmlAVX
— Timo Ahopelto (@timomj) October 25, 2016
Could you give one example of something like that you learned from?
The. importance of forming your own vision and action plan, and sticking to it in your own company vs too much listening to outsiders – – everyone of course needs advisors and coaching, but ultimately the founder needs to call the shots. Good founders always know best what is best for teh Company.
Why is Helsinki a great place to launch a startup?
Finnish engineers are world’s most talented and loyal, hardworking. The local ecosystem has no match, not even in the Valley. The way how everyone works together in the community to build things like Slush is amazing. Finally, this is among the best places to live for families.
What’s a typical day like for you now?
Rewarding and energizing. I try to minimize the amount of pitches I listen to, and maximize the time I work with our entrepreneurs. Such a great bunch of founders.
With the current digital tools available to startups does it seem easier to get a business launched in 2016?
Yes. I have always said that technology has became a commodity. Everything is available to be just “switched on” and at a very low cost. When we started CRF Health in 2000, we needed to put together server rooms and buy our own Oracle clusters. I am not really missing those days. 🙂
As a mentor what is the most common advice you give to startups?
Define extremely well what is the category you want to lead globally. It is a surprisingly difficult task to define.
What are you working on now?
Mostly with our waste technology and AI startups.
Anything else to add / we should have asked?
Thanks for being interested in what we do up here! Appreciated!