Venture capital (VC) firm Lifeline Ventures today announced a new €150 million ($163 million) fund aimed at early-stage startups across Finland.
Founded in 2009, Helsinki-based Lifeline Ventures has invested in around 115 companies to date, with more than a dozen exits to its name including the activity tracking app, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014. ; Food delivery company Wolt, which DoorDash acquired in an $8.1 billion all-stock deal two years ago; and gaming giant Supercell, which Tencent sold for $8.6 billion for a majority stake in 2016. Lifeline Ventures also backs unicorns such as open source enterprise infrastructure company Aiven, which hit a valuation of $3 billion last year.
Lifeline Ventures invests primarily in the “angel” and seed-stage, with some follow-on investments in the Series A realm. While “angel” usually refers to wealthy individuals who invest their own money, in this case the company means that it sometimes backs companies at a very early stage, before they have any meaningful display from a product perspective. Those investments include mixed reality headset maker Varjo and smart ring maker Oura, which recently acquired a $2.55 billion deal.
“We invested in Oura ‘pre-PowerPoint’ – meaning we were there before an actual product was created,” Lifeline Ventures founding partner Timo Ahopelto told TechCrunch.
With its new funding, the company says it will look to make investments from anywhere between €150,000 and €2 million. And wAlthough the majority of its investments (95%, TechCrunch reported) are aimed at domestic Finnish startups, it is known to take stakes in companies from elsewhere, including Germany, France, the UK, and US when invited to do so. .
While VC funding has generally declined across all stages, the data suggests that early-stage funding is becoming stronger. In fact, we have seen a spate of new early-stage funds emerge in Europe in recent months alone. For example, London’s Playfair Capital closed a $70 million pre-seed fund, while France’s Emblem and Ovni Capital each announced new €50 million ($54 million) funding. Elsewhere, the UK’s Amadeus Capital Partners has teamed up with Austria’s Apex Ventures for an €80 million ($87 million) fund targeted at early-stage deep-tech startups.
“The early stage is the most recession-proof business, for founders and investors, because you tend to always grow faster than the markets can go down,” Ahopelto said.
Lifeline Ventures’ latest funding represents its fifth to date, with the inaugural €29 million fund closing in 2012, followed by two funds in 2014 totaling €17 million; a €57 million fund three in 2016; and a €130 million fund three years later. While a lot has happened in the world since 2019, Ahopelto says it’s pretty much business as usual from an investment perspective.
“Nothing has really changed for us in terms of investment strategy – we are still the first to invest in many cases,” he said. “We still see a lot of startups being founded, especially in Finland. The ecosystem in Finland is in the early days and will grow two to three times in quality and size within the next five to ten years. There is room for that kind of growth in Finland.”
Lifeline Ventures’ latest investment is in Origin by Ocean, an Espoo-based startup working to rid the ocean of harmful algae by transforming it into functional goods that include food, cosmetics, textiles, and so on. And this is one area in particular that Ahopelto reckons will continue to grow in the coming years.
“We feel that climate startups will raise their heads more and more over time,” he said. “Also, we will see more climate funds investing in the world.”