I took over as the Chair of FiBAN at the beginning of 2020. Which now feels like an eternity ago: It was still pre-COVID, and we had ambitious plans in terms of the next steps FiBAN would take. In March same year, all those plans needed to be brushed aside in order to react to COVID. I still remember vividly when the first wave of COVID hit and we were sitting with Amel in Maria01, going through all our upcoming events, and trying to figure out whether to cancel, reschedule, or move to online each event. The darkest official estimates projected a 90% decrease in angel investing which – fortunately – never happened.

While all this pushed our plans to the backburner, it also created new opportunities. Moving to online and hybrid modes in e.g. screening, training and pitching enable FiBAN to serve wider audiences; both domestically and internationally. And I cannot thank enough our team for making the transformation happen: You pivoted like a unicorn in making.

After the first shock, we were able to continue with the plans. In the two years, we started FiBAN Founders’ Club which currently offers valuable benefits from ten different service providers, launched new FiBAN Academy Online with tracks for new and experienced angels, developed our research and launched data compass. We also added a new membership class called “Angel Friendly Investor” for VCs, while adding more corporate partners to our network. These are the first steps we are taking to provide our members’ portfolio companies with piloting, cooperation, funding, and exit opportunities. In this area, the work will continue in the future.

Today, FiBAN is a recognized expert in the areas of startups and early-stage investing. This means that we more and more often have the seat at the table when decisions regarding the ecosystem are made. This is at the same time a great opportunity to provide an impact, but also a responsibility: We need to be able to provide not just opinions, but bring data and solutions to the table. Luckily, this is an area where I know the newly elected board led by Annukka Mickelsson will excel.

It has been a long journey from the foundation of FiBAN to where we are today. And I want to thank everybody for making it happen: Everyone working at FiBAN, our founders, board members, partners, startups, stakeholders. But most importantly I want to thank our members – we are the network!

Annukka, it’s your show next.

Reima Linnanvirta
Chair of the Board, FiBAN

FiBAN Monthly is a blog series discussing current topics among FiBAN and angel investing. A new post will be shared each month, alternating between FiBAN Chair of the Board Reima Linnanvirta and the Managing Director Aija Bärlund. In case you missed the letter from November, you can read it here.