“New challenges lie ahead. I’m super excited to announce that I’m joining Voima Ventures as Investment Director. We will work with deep tech companies from the new Nordics and we are expecting to make a huge impact on the startup scene! It’s also my pleasure to be a part of the team that Inka Mero has put together.” – Pontus Stråhlman, former CEO of Spinnaker Fund announced on Facebook earlier this week. We have reached out to get some more detailed insight behind his career move and his plans in this new role.
About Voima Ventures
The new Voima Ventures is launching soon with the aim to make approximately 25-30 new investments from the fund.
sweet spot: new Nordics
main area of interest: deep tech
stage: pre-seed to Series A round as first investment
ticket size: 150k – 1.5M EUR
What is the background of your decision of joining Voima Ventures?
I was trying to raise an AI fund, but I wasn’t able to do so. Investors were interested, but there wasn’t room for one. With Voima, I will have the opportunity to invest in pretty cool AI and other deep tech companies.
The biggest reason was of course the team. I know this is what people say, but that’s actually true here. Inka and I met approximately a half a year ago, where she told me how she is trying to raise this deep tech fund and hinted that we could talk if I would be interested.
Voima has the characteristics that investors are really interested in, some of which were exactly the things that investors used as reasons not to invest in Spinnaker Ventures, that lacked these features. At Voima, we have a bigger fund, it has a more flexible investment strategy, meaning that it can invest from pre-seed to A round as first investments – investors like that flexibility. It also has a very broad mandate: deep tech can be everything, but of course not everything is deep tech. Startups need to have a solid knowledge based in some kind of research, preferably patents – but not necessarily. We have a much broader dealflow than just AI, and that allows us to go into the most interesting startups that are coming out of Finland at the moment.
What will be your main responsibilities as Investment Director at Voima?
The team is quite small, so we are all doing everything, we all have a responsibility for everything, but we specialize in certain things: for me that is dealflow and AI, focusing more on early stage startups while Inka and Mikko Kumpulainen can handle later stage.
How will this work together with your existing roles in different companies?
I see my role as a sort of startup ecosystem guy enhanced by this. The roles I have at Kiuas Accelerator, at Arctic15 or what I’ve had at Slush are only going to be strengthened by this new role as a VC at Voima. I’m definitely going to work hard together with the ecosystem, just as I did before. Then of course I am not going to do personal investments, so my role as an angel investor will probably get smaller.
What is the most exciting for you about this new journey?
This combination of really high tech and research together with teams with an entrepreneurial spirit is really my sweet spot ,where I believe that companies really can make an impact. And I definitely hope and believe that in 10 years time (when we’ve had this second fund of ours through) we will have had a big impact. Meaning the size of the company that we are building and also the different environmental and social aspects. We expect that many of our investments will have a positive impact on society.
And that is where I really get the kicks, when you think about how we can change the society we live in: just thinking about the fact that this fund is a 10 year commitment, thinking about how the world will look like in 10 years time… Having a role in bringing these really early stage technologies and building them into large companies that impact society is very exciting for me.
Will you be involved with the companies in the existing portfolio?
Voima Ventures will continue to manage the previous VTT portfolio, as Voima Ventures is – so to say – the spinoff of VTT Ventures. So I will definitely be actively working with our previous investments and help working with those companies.
Are you already eyeing some startups now that you are with Voima?
There are, although they are not public yet – but you can definitely expect to hear some interesting investments coming from Voima within the next few months.
And we are definitely hoping if there is a startup out there who identifies as deep tech, they will get in touch with us because we are looking to dig in wherever there is interesting new technology, interesting IPR that can actually have an impact on society.