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Launching soon: global business angel community First Line Angel Group

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First Line Angel Group FLAG.fi, a Finnish business angel community with a global reach, is launching on 25-26th of February 2008 at EU EASY Event in Milano, Italy. FLAG.fi is stated to be the the first and only global portal dedicated to investors, entrepreneurs, and business angels.

The founder Peter Bougdanos, a well-acclaimed business angel, hopes FLAG will be “a solution to the startup situation in Finland and all over Europe”. The problem statement manifests that many entrepreneurs and opportunities go unnoticed and/or unfunded in Finland – and also in Europe in general – because of a lack of a true angel community, consensus, support, and meaningful interaction among professionals in the field. This is something that was also identified recently in Growth Forum 08 as reported by Tomi. In addition many investors get caught up in long exit cycles, ending up tying up their valuable resources of time, money, and expertise.

The vision of FLAG is to become the first true Angel Group in Finland which mirrors the activities of angel groups in the USA. It’s mission is to make Finland, Finnish companies, Finnish business angels, and the Finnish venture capital industry a healthy, competitive, and interactive community. FLAG targets to create a currently missing dynamic forum with both a professional and social function for business angels to meet and discuss angel investments. Peter Bougdanos aims to promote Finnish startups and help them “get the commercialization and business concept traction that many fail to do”. Recent members of FLAG include online business traveller tool Dopplr and free news service forum ampparit.com.

The service will be Finland centric, but it’s claimed that already over 3000 pan-European interested members have been identified, and the majority of them have expressed keen interest to enroll. FLAG also looks to integrate Middle Eastern and Asian flare of active members. It is planned to be the melting pot for existing angel associations, stand-alone organizations, network clusters, and independent actors on local, regional, and international levels, operating both online and offline.

FLAG will offer a whole community universe for connecting investors, with a wide spectrum of tools and services, including facilitating selling of companies angel-to-angel, and providing company information and management bios. FLAG also believes in giving back to the community and 25 percent of profits will go to funding stipends for young students, lower income families’ teens, and budding entrepreneurs to gain international experience, overseas exposure and professional and academics skills.

Greek American Bougdanos has helped to foster nearly 50 startups in Finland, since moving from NYC after surviving 9/11/2001. His background includes investments in companies like Google, Skype, and Finnish Helmi Technologies, Nordic Koivu, FogScreen, Concilio Networks, and Trackway, among many others. Peter is also a founding partner of FirstRound Startup Center, which has a unique smart money approach to incubating fast track early stage companies.

It is great to see something of this scale being initiated in Finland, and hopefully FLAG will be able to give rise to new business angels activity and many new fast growing firms. If you’re interested in joining FLAG, be sure to check the web page.

Edit: I have heard there are some two-fold opinions on how Mr. Bougdanos works, so it’s advisable that you first discuss with people who have worked with him before jumping right in, to make sure there is a good match (as would be good with any new relationship in general).

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