Startup-collaboration: Key to unlocking innovation – Case Walki Ventures & TPLC

In today’s competitive landscape, large corporations face the challenge of maintaining their edge, especially in the green transition era. Many technology teams are struggling to find suitable partners and large industrial companies, in particular, urgently seek a competitive advantage through sustainable innovations. Startups, with their fresh ideas and often market-tested innovations, present a promising, if not necessary path forward. 

The daunting task of navigating the startup landscape

Particularly in driving the green transition, the novel technology and startup partnerships are essential. However, the process of finding the right startup-partners can be overwhelming due to the vast array of emerging startups, each with unique offerings. 

“Large corporations often struggle to find partners that align with their specific industry needs and future goals. The dynamic nature of technology adds complexity, requiring partners who not only address current challenges but also anticipate future industry shifts” says Matti Härkönen, Partner, Innovestor Corporate Venturing.

Innovestor delivers unique CVC services by leveraging its strong investment background and specialized expertise in deal flow and validation. Innovestor Corporate Venturing focuses in understanding the corporate growth strategy and how to utilize the technology innovation landscape to accelerate that. Going beyond publicly available databases, Innovestor taps into a wide array of sources, ensuring a nuanced understanding how technology can leverage of the startup landscape. This approach involves in-depth interviews and analyses, engaging the corporate team in the process too. 

Innovestor’s rigorous screening process leads to Walki’s investment in sustainable startup TPLC

Walki is a company that specializes in providing innovative, sustainable solutions in packaging, label materials, and construction industries. Walki’s startup investment initiative Walki Ventures, recognizing the need to scale its business and foster growth, sought Innovestor’s Corporate Venturing expertise in scouting new technologies and interesting startups that would add-on to Walki’s strategy.

The rigorous, several months’ screening process with Innovestor led to the shortlisting of The Paper Lid Company (TPLC), a Finnish startup specializing in sustainable paper lid manufacturing, and eventually, Walki investing in TPLC.

TPLC had developed an innovative method of producing high-quality recyclable paper lids, aligning with the increasing demand for sustainable alternatives to plastic lids. They had established strong technological foundations, sales, and a customer base, but they needed a industrial partner and funding for growth. From this perspective, Walki was an excellent match since Walki’s core business involves coating various materials, such as cardboard, to make products recyclable. 

Walki’s investment in TPLC was not merely financial; but marked the beginning of a strategic partnership. Walki assisted TPLC in developing recyclable raw materials for the lids, providing printing services, and integrating TPLC into its R&D Community. 

“From Walki’s perspective, the concept of venturing is seen as a means to accelerate R&D activities and an avenue to engage in new business models, value chains, and exciting ventures. The goal was not to transform into a traditional venture capitalist investor but to seek robust business connections and touchpoints that align with Walki’s objectives.”, Miika Järvinen, VP, Walki Ventures and Corporate Development, explains.

This collaboration with TPLC also allowed Walki to move closer to end-users, a significant strategic advantage.

Often, we function as material suppliers, with other businesses operating in the intermediate stages before reaching the end consumer. However, with straws and lids, Walki directly interfaces with consumers, bridging the gap and establishing a closer connection to the end-user market” Järvinen adds.

Being pioneers in their field, TPLC drew widespread media attention and inquiries from various quarters. Among these, Walki emerged as the optimal partner, offering not just vital funding but also essential support in sourcing crucial raw materials. This partnership stood out as the most logical and practical choice for also TPLC.

“We received numerous inquiries from parties either eager to acquire TPLC outright or provide capital only. However, what we truly needed, besides funding, was assistance in sourcing raw materials. Walki, therefore, became the ideal partner, providing not only capital but also crucial support in securing the necessary resources. It was the most logical and sensible collaboration for us,” – Matti Salonoja, CEO of TPLC explains, underlining the strategic synergy that made Walki the perfect ally for TPLC.

Walki’s venture initiatives represent a strategic shift, focusing on growth, innovation, and sustainable solutions. Venturing, in this context, is seen as a means to accelerate R&D activities and engage in new business models. Innovestor’s involvement and unique approach not only enhanced Walki’s existing venturing efforts but also set the stage for future collaborations. 

For further details about Innovestor Corporate Venturing services, please get in touch with:

Piia Maaranen

Managing Partner, Corporate Venturing 

+358 40 515 1321

Matti Härkönen

Partner, Corporate Venturing

+358 40 578 2688