Venture capital firm Lifeline Ventures today announced a new €150 million ($163 million) fund targeting early stage startups across Finland.
Founded in 2009, Lifeline Ventures has invested in about 115 companies to date, with more than a dozen exits to its credit, including activity-tracking app Moves, which Facebook acquired in 2014; food delivery company Wolt, which DoorDash gobbled up in an $8.1 billion all-stock deal two years ago; and gaming giant Supercell, of which Tencent shelled out $8.6 billion for a majority stake in 2016. Lifeline Ventures has also backed unicorns such as the open source enterprise infrastructure company Aiven, which reached a $3 billion valuation last year.
Lifeline Ventures typically invest in the angel and seed stage, with some follow-on investments in the Series A realm. While “angel” usually refers to wealthy individuals who invest with their own money, in this case the company means that it sometimes supports companies at a super early stage, before they can show anything meaningful from a product perspective. Such investments included mixed reality headset maker Varjo and smart ring maker Oura, which recently claimed a valuation of $2.55 billion.
“We invested in Oura ‘pre-PowerPoint’ — meaning we were there before an actual product was ever made,” Lifeline Ventures founder Timo Ahopelto told Acutely.info.
With its new fund, the company says it wants to make investments ranging from € 150,000 to € 2 million. And WWhile the vast majority of its investments (95%, Acutely.info has been informed) are focused on domestic Finnish startups, it has been known to take stakes in companies from elsewhere, including Germany, France, the UK and the US when invited to do this .
While venture capital funding has generally declined at all stages, data suggests that earlier stage funding has been somewhat more resilient. Certainly, we have seen a wave of new seed capital funds emerging in Europe alone in recent months. For example, London’s Playfair Capital closed a $70 million pre-seed fund, while France’s Emblem and Ovni Capital each announced a new €50 million ($54 million) fund. Elsewhere, UK-based Amadeus Capital Partners teamed up with Austria-based Apex Ventures for an €80 million ($87 million) fund aimed at early stage deep tech startups.
“The early stage is the most recession-proof business, for both founders and investors, because you’re likely to always grow faster than the markets can fall,” Ahopelto said.
Lifeline Ventures’ latest fund represents its fifth fund to date, with the inaugural fund of €29 million closing in 2012, followed by fund two in 2014, which was €17 million; a fund of €57 million, three in 2016; and three years later a €130 million fund. While much has happened in the world since 2019, Ahopelto says it’s pretty much business as usual from an investment perspective.
“Nothing has really changed for us in terms of investment strategy – in many cases we are still the first investors,” he said. “We still see a lot of startups being created, especially in Finland. The ecosystem in Finland is still in its infancy and will grow two to three times in size and quality in the next five to ten years. There is room for that kind of growth in Finland.”
Lifeline Ventures’ most recent investment was in Origin by Ocean, an Espoo-based start-up that works to rid the oceans of harmful algae by turning them into functional products such as food, cosmetics, textiles and more. And this is one area in particular that Ahopelto expects to continue to thrive for years to come.
“We have a feeling that climate startups will rear their heads even more over time,” he said. “Similarly, we will see more climate funds investing in the sphere.”