Icebreaker.vc continues to be the most active VC in Finland – our H1 2018 in review

In H1 2018 we continued to be the most active VC in Finland. So far we have invested in more and stronger companies than we had expected. We have gathered a strong community of more than 600 founders and pre-founders, and the core of it consists of the 25 portfolio companies with interesting tech and founders with deep domain knowledge.

This year has been quite a ride so far. To analyze it, let's take a few steps back. In 2017 we launched Icebreaker.vc with the following assumptions:

  1. There would be around 10.000 Pre-founders in Finland with 5–15 years of solid work experience and necessary skills for founding a strong tech company.
  2. In addition to getting funded, a community of Pre-founders and Founders would help the founders build strong tech companies.
  3. We would invest in 10 startups with a strong idea per year, building a portfolio of 40 companies in four years.
  4. Despite all our efforts, not all the startup companies would make it to the next stage.

We think it’s fair to say that our hunch with the hypotheses was right and we exceeded all the expectations we set to ourselves. Let’s take a closer look at how our plans turned out to be.

Faster investment pace brings our portfolio to 25 companies

In the first half of 2018 we made eight new investments. In total, we have invested in 25 companies during our first 18 months, which builds a pace of 16–17 new investments per year. If we continue with this pace, it looks that we have made all our 40 investments by Q2 2019, which means we are way ahead of our schedule. It seems that we need to get back on the fundraising-rodeo soon. 😄

The reason why we have invested in so many companies is that we have found the ideas and teams so strong. The teams have deep domain expertise, acquired through work experience and research, in addition to the needed technical skills. As we have been focusing on finding founders with experience in their domain, they have a really good understanding of the problem they are solving, but they are also aware of the competition and market trends. This enables them to build superior products that they already know there is a need for.

During the first half of this year, we have also invested in very diverse companies. Some companies have just filed their registration papers whereas some of them already have a working product and happy customers. The industries range from cybersecurity, healthcare, retail, real estate, hospitality, cryptocurrencies, IoT and space to logistics, to mention a few.

Not all of the investments are announced yet. The list of announced investments is on our website. The entire list of all 25 companies can be found on the Icebreaker Intranet, our proprietary tool available for our Community members.

73 founders – a strong pool of knowledge ready to be leveraged

There are 73 founders in our portfolio companies. All of them have 5–15 years of solid work experience and skills needed for building strong tech companies. This mighty group is actually quite a big pool of knowledge, experience and expertise from which one can find answers to all kinds of questions. All the founders and their background info can be found on the Icebreaker Intranet.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to host our second portfolio day last June and get all of the portfolio founders under the same roof to learn, share experiences and to have some fun. Maybe the beers and hot dogs helped, but we were super proud and humbled by the Net Promoter Score of +80 (which can be considered very good) that we got from our founders – thank you!

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Stronger companies than expected

Besides making more investments than we estimated, our portfolio companies are also performing better than we expected. The first seven-figure rounds – led by the leading international VCs – are already closed, with first already publicly announced, such as Kodit.io’s €1.7M round.

In total four of our portfolio companies successfully raised their second round of funding during H1. According to CB Insights’ stats, 40% of startups reach the next level by raising the second round. At the moment, we are confident that the number for our first 25 investments will be more. Time will tell how much more.

Raising the second round (and beyond) does not tell the absolute value for a startup, but it is a good proxy signaling their success. Raising the second round from an international VC would not be possible without making a technological breakthrough and/or growing fast. These companies are solving massive problems and they are developing superior tech products and platforms that the markets are craving for. As a result, the revenue of these companies is also growing fast.

Improving our community and support platform

Our mission is to help build strong tech companies. One part of it is funding. A much bigger part of it is our community and support we can provide. Here are a few of the highlights from H1 2018.

Intranet

In order to help our community members to get to know each other and find new opportunities, we launched the Icebreaker Intranet. Yes, it's a cool name – we're making Intranet trendy again.

At the moment our Intranet serves as a directory of people and companies that are a part of the Icebreaker Community. Have a question and need to find people with certain expertise or experience? No problem. Want to find strong people to be your co-founders, team members or even clients? Consider it done. Want to check out who you met a t the last event? Consider it done.

Or maybe you want to find interesting ideas, projects or companies to join? There are a lot of them. Want to introduce your company to a great crowd of potential co-founders? Create your project info and people will contact you.

Strengthening the team

We were fortunate to get the following new members join our crew during H1.

Elina Uutela joined our team as a Product Manager in April – to make sure we develop and provide stuff that supports our mission the best: helping to build strong tech companies. Besides funding, we believe that a community where Pre-founders and Founders learn best practices, get to know each other and find new opportunities supports our mission the best.

Rasmus Klärck joined our team as a VC Intern in February. Rasmus has played an important role in our investment team. During the next 6 months, you can find Rasmus from the alleys of Amsterdam or the campus of the University of Amsterdam where he will finalize his studies as an exchange student. After his time abroad, Rasmus will join us and continue his path on making great investments in tech.

Sophia Wiiala joined our team as a Marketing Intern in April. Sophia has helped us with various tasks and projects, such as the Icebreaker BBQ Therapy where we had around 50 international VCs networking together with our portfolio company founders and some friends.

Finally, we also took part in a fascinating and pleasant experiment when Tiitus Petäjäniemi, a well known Finnish artist, joined our team as our in-house artist. In practice, he had a workspace in the corner of our office where he created art and cool paintings every day. He also joined our meetings, events and other activities – becoming a true member of the team. We highly recommend the experiment! This year is already booked, but the window of opportunity is open for next year. Contact Tiitus to learn more.

By the way, we are also looking for new team members to join our team this fall.

Moving forward

What's next?

Apply for Pre-Founder Project Fall 2018

If you have over five years of relevant work experience and want to build or join a strong tech company, you should join the Icebreaker Pre-Founder Project. Apply before September 7th.

Raise €50K-350K of funding

We invest €50K-350K in strong ideas and tech companies. If you are looking for funding, drop us a line and let's talk more.

Join our team

We are on a mission to help build strong tech companies. If you feel compelled to our mission, you might just be the right person to join our team at Icebreaker.vc! Check out the open positions.


Thanks for the amazing H1!

Best,
Lasse, Riku, Aleksi & the team