I am Petri Laine, the Managing Partner of Innovestor Ventures. Before joining the Innovestor team in 2016, I worked almost eleven years at Finnvera. There my responsibility was to set up a seed fund called Vera, which ended up investing into 235 Finnish startups. Finnvera invested some 165 million euros in the startups, which was matched with more than 400 million euros from other investors. When Innovestor acquired 80% of Vera in 2016, it was natural for me and my Finnvera team to move to Innovestor as well.
Before Finnvera, I spent 7 years working in corporate finance. My focus was on M&A and strategy consulting, mainly with technology companies. Before that I was a professor at the University of Tampere. After my academic career I have continued lecturing in universities and also sit in several tech company boards.
A normal work day for me includes meetings all over the place. When in downtown Helsinki, I always try to walk to meetings. Days can be long so it is good to get some exercise during breaks. When not working, there’s a good chance you’ll find me in my summer cottage, probably reading autobiographies.
It is difficult to pinpoint a single most important achievement in my career. Rather the whole journey with Vera and ending up at Innovestor can be seen as one. It has been extremely interesting and educating, playing a role in helping hundreds of Finnish startups to grow their business and internationalize. I must emphasize, however, that these things cannot be done alone. For example funding instruments and co-operation with Business Finland (formerly Tekes) have been crucial in making this happen.
If I were to describe my job in three words, those would be: inspiring, fun, privileged. One of the main privileges of my job is the possibility to work with so many talented and clever people. Innovestor has a network of some 500 venture capitalists and business angels. We are also well connected for example with FiBAN and NordicBAN. My typical role is to locate the right people, introduce them, and make things happen. My favourite email ends with the sentence: “Please, be introduced, I trust you can take it from here.”
There are two important things I have learned along the way. The first one is: the surest way to lose money is to underfund your project. You have to believe enough in what you do to take risks to ensure proper funding. The startup ecosystem in the United States acknowledges this better than startup ecosystems in Finland or Europe. However, too much cash can be equally dangerous. It is all about finding a good balance.
The second learning is at least as important: trust your intuition. Information has never been as easily available as it is these days. One might think that everything can be calculated or simulated and gut feeling plays no role any more. I disagree. The operating environment of startups and the rate of innovation is so complex and unpredictable that even the smartest algorithms cannot tell whether a startup will succeed or not.
Of course facts and numbers should be utilized in order to make well-grounded decisions, but in the end it is often up to the intuition to make the final call.
Innovestor is a 2014 founded Nordic startup investor and financial services company, with the largest private growth company portfolio in the Nordics with around 110 companies. We manage two Venture Capital funds and actively make direct investments into early-stage technology driven startups in the Nordics. Unlike any other venture capital investor in Finland, we also operate an online Co-investment Platform, through which private investors can invest together with us into our pre-vetted target companies. To date, we have invested around 125 million euros and have roughly 500 co-investors. Additionally, through our strategic ownership in Kasvun Roihu, we operate Finlands largest pro-bono growth sparring competition Kasvu Open and Grow to Market acceleration programs for founders and partners. We have offices in Helsinki (HQ), Jyväskylä, Stockholm and Moscow.