Lifeline Ventures, a renowned venture capital firm based in Helsinki, Finland, has recently unveiled a new fund amounting to €150 million ($163 million) aimed at supporting early-stage startups throughout the country. Since its establishment in 2009, Lifeline Ventures has made investments in approximately 115 companies, boasting a significant number of successful exits. Some notable examples include Moves, an activity-tracking app that was acquired by Facebook in 2014, Wolt, a food delivery company that was purchased by DoorDash in a $8.1 billion all-stock deal two years ago, and Supercell, a gaming giant that Tencent acquired a majority stake in for $8.6 billion in 2016. Additionally, Lifeline Ventures has backed unicorn companies such as Aiven, an open-source enterprise infrastructure company that reached a valuation of $3 billion in the previous year.
The primary focus of Lifeline Ventures lies in investing at the angel and seed stages, while also participating in follow-on investments during the Series A phase. The term “angel” typically refers to affluent individuals who invest using their personal funds. However, in this context, Lifeline Ventures indicates that it occasionally supports companies in their nascent stages, prior to the development of a tangible product. Notable investments of this nature include Varjo, a mixed reality headset maker, and Oura, a smart ring manufacturer that recently attained a valuation of $2.55 billion.
Timo Ahopelto, a founding partner of Lifeline Ventures, shared the following insight regarding the company’s investment strategy: “We invested in Oura ‘pre-PowerPoint’—meaning we’ve been there before an actual product was ever made.” This approach highlights Lifeline Ventures’ willingness to take risks and support promising ventures even before they have a demonstrable product.
With the introduction of their new fund, Lifeline Ventures aims to make investments ranging from €150,000 to €2 million. While the majority of their investments (approximately 95%, as reported by TechCrunch) are directed towards domestic Finnish startups, Lifeline Ventures has also been open to investing in companies from other countries, such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, when invited to do so.
Although venture capital funding has experienced a general decline across all stages, data suggest that early-stage funding has displayed a greater degree of resilience. Recent months have witnessed the emergence of numerous fresh early-stage funds in Europe. For instance, Playfair Capital in London closed a pre-seed fund totalling $70 million, while Emblem and Ovni Capital in France each unveiled new funds amounting to €50 million ($54 million). Additionally, Amadeus Capital Partners in the United Kingdom partnered with Apex Ventures in Austria to establish an €80 million ($87 million) fund targeting early-stage deep tech startups.
The growing number of early-stage funds indicates the sustained interest in supporting startups during their critical early phases. These funds provide crucial capital and resources for entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into viable products or services. By supporting startups at their earliest stages, Lifeline Ventures and other venture capital firms contribute to the development of innovative technologies, the creation of job opportunities, and the overall growth of the startup ecosystem.