I am Wilhelm Lindholm, Partner and CEO at Innovestor. My responsibilities include new investments, new products, and other growth initiatives. My educational and professional background is in corporate finance and business development. When I am not in the office, I do biking and wakeboarding in the summer, and downhill skiing in the winter. I also regularly explore different wine areas and culinary cultures.
I have a diverse background in many industry domains and working cultures. Before joining Innovestor, I worked in investment banking, in a multinational corporation, and as an entrepreneur. Most of my professional career has been spent outside Finland: over the past 15 years, I have permanently or for extended periods been based in Moscow, Boston, Mumbai, Zurich, Stockholm, and London.
Regardless of the culture, fundamental issues facing early-stage entrepreneurs are fairly universal. There are challenges related to building something new and finding product-market-fit. Also communicating the vision, acquiring customers, hiring talented people, and accessing capital to grow are always there. These things do not change much whether you sit in Kempele, Bandra Kurla, or Skolkovo.
There are, however, differences in the operating environments. They can be cultural things such as gender roles or organizational hierarchies. Also institutional infrastructure and trust play a role. Is trust primarily based on personal relations? Or is it grounded on institutions, be them governmental or corporations? The size and importance of the public sector also has an impact on building a business. For a founder, these factors have implications for example on funding instruments and the available safety nets in case of a failure.
There are many highlights in my professional life so far. When starting my career, I found it exciting to take part in large M&A deals. Later on, founding my own advisory company and signing the first deal is something I still remember very well. My first client was Rabbe Grönblom, a well-known Finnish entrepreneurs and the founder of Kotipizza and Omena Hotels.
Another highlight was transitioning to Innovestor back in its early days to build the company with its founders. Most recently, it has been very rewarding to watch Innovestor, and the companies we have invested in, grow and succeed.
In “startupland”, I sometimes feel there is too much attention given to individual funding rounds, in particular among the younger generation of entrepreneurs. As in if you close a round, you become the talk of the town. Moreover, in times of plentiful capital supply, as is the case at the moment, all kinds of ideas and teams get funded.
Funding rounds are of course important milestones for a startup, but at the end of the day they are just your ticket to ride. You need them to ramp up your business. Ultimately though, it’s the execution during and after the ramp up that defines whether actual value is created or destroyed.
It’s important to constantly keep learning. You need it to stay competitive as a company, as a team, and as an individual. Seeing new places and meeting different people also helps a lot in this sense. Be curious, explore, and have the courage to act upon conviction.
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.