Finnish Business Angel of the Year
Finnish Business Angels Network annually awards The Finnish Business Angel of the Year. With the award, FiBAN aims to increase the interest towards business angel investing. The selection is based on suggestions made by FiBAN members. Who has supported the startup ecosystem and made valuable investments?
Previously awarded business angels
The Finnish Business Angel 2022
Angel Investor Henry Nilert was named the Business Angel of the Year 2022 for his exceptional efforts and activity in the FiBAN community. He has an extensive international background in building successful startups, as co-founder of iobox, which was one of the largest early mobile entertainment portals in Europe, and co-founder of Credit24, a leading online lending platform. As an angel investor, he has supported and advised a large number of startups in Finland and the wider region, contributing not only to funding but also to the experience gathered throughout his entrepreneurial career.
The Finnish Business Angel 2021
The Angel of the Year award was given to Jari Osmala, who has acted as a business angel for 10 years. He has actively participated in angel investing activities, helping several large-sized companies grow and internationalize.
Jari Osmala is also a regional angel of FiBAN in the Kuopio and Northern Savo Area. He has long and versatile experience in operating in internationalization, strategy, and board work in the international business landscape, and noted how the quality of startups in Finland has improved over the past 10 years.
The Finnish Business Angel 2020
This year, when choosing the business angel of the year, the award committee paid attention to giving back to the community. “Ainomaija Haarla has supported her founders, acted as a lead investor, and is known to be generally helpful towards her fellow investors and other startup ecosystem players”, says Reima Linnanvirta, chair of the award committee.
Haarla celebrates the recognition: “My guideline in startup investing is first and foremost to give the founders freedom to operate and think big. The second would be to be persistent on what you want to achieve, and flexible when needed.”
The Finnish Business Angel Newcomer of the Year 2020
When thinking of a business angel, people might think of a retired business professional. But the truth is that angel investors come in every shape and size. The Newcomer of the Year, Otso Laakkonen represents the next generation of angel investors: a digitally savvy exited founder. From the day of joining FiBAN, Laakkonen has been involved in many activities, bringing the view of a creative digital native to the table.
The Finnish Business Angel 2019
Ali has become one of Finland’s most prominent business angels in a few years. The investment portfolio of a doctor with an entrepreneurial background currently includes 25 companies, mainly technology companies. Known as an active sparrer for startup entrepreneurs, Ali has also served on FiBAN’s board in 2018-2019.
The selection criteria highlighted Ali’s active investment and prominent activities in the startup ecosystem. In addition, the Remuneration Committee emphasized Ali’s way of promoting the visibility of business angel activities and representing FiBAN in the ecosystem.
The Finnish Business Angel 2018
Hannu Hamari is an active angel investor and held in high regard by his peers. Hannu frequently participates in FiBAN activities. With successful exits under his belt, Hannu is also a good representative of a successful Finnish regional investor based outside the Helsinki capital area. He is from Oulu, the most important city the startup ecosystem of the northern parts of Finland. Besides being the home to active investors, Oulu regularly produces very interesting startups of high caliber that have gone on to achieve strong growth. Over the years, many such successful startups have received funding and know-how from Hannu.
The Finnish Business Angel Newcomer of the Year 2018
He exemplifies a new member, who recently started his career as an angel investor by very actively taking part in FiBAN trainings and other activities, such as the award-winning Nordic Angel Program (NAP). As an internationally-minded Dutch businessman, René has thus immediately begun to do cross-border investing together with others. He represents a growing number of international angel investors who are either living in Finland or become members while based in an other country. René’s home country, the Netherlands, is one of the many startup ecosystems with which FiBAN and its members are forging increasingly strong international collaboration.
The Finnish Business Angel 2017
Kim Väisänen has an entrepreneurial background and mindset: “I was an entrepreneur for a fairly long time and then I sold my company to the London Stock Exchange for about 60 million euros. After that, I had a bit of money and plenty of free time.” he explains. Väisänen describes his approach to angel investing as a co-entrepreneur. “I put a bit of my time, effort and money and we try to make things greater, bigger and better – together.”
“I have always said that if you have been successful you have to share it and help the other people.” says Väisänen who has invested in about 20 companies in different fields. One of his portfolio companies is Framery that has grown fast and won the Internationalization Award of the President of the Republic of Finland.
The Finnish Business Angel 2016
Leena Niemistö is one of the most visible business angels in Finland. Mrs. Niemistö’s main interest is in the health technology sector being a doctor herself. Niemistö acted as CEO and entrepreneur in the Finnish Dextra private healthcare clinic, which was acquired by Pihlajalinna, nowadays a Finnish public listed social and healthcare company, in 2012. Niemistö worked as Pihlajalinna’s deputy CEO and EVP, private clinics and specialised care until summer of 2016. Currently she acts as the vice chairman of the board of Pihlajalinna and as a board member in several of the leading corporations in Finland. Niemistö also spends a lot of energy with startups and her current portfolio consist of 16 active startups including startups like Ambronite, CosmEthics, Digital Workforce Nordic, HLD Healthy Life Devices, NaturVention, YOU-app, Venuu, and Verso Food. In Finland, Niemistö has inspired several new startup investors with her own activity, especially in the field of healthcare.
The Finnish Business Angel 2015
Moaffak is one of the most active and respected technology focused business angels in Finland. Moaffak has been involved in establishing several companies, the most successful being financial software company Trema (today Wall Street Systems), which was founded Finland in 1992. As co-founder of Trema, Moaffak was instrumental in building the global leader in software solutions for central banks and corporate treasuries of Fortune 500 companies, with clients like Citibank, European Central Bank, GE Capital, and Unilever. Moaffak has invested in over 35 startup companies, including Smartly.io, Next Games, Kopla Games, MyNextRun, Nosto, Vizor.io and Pryte, which was last year acquired by Facebook. In addition to investing, he is very actively contributing pro bono in sharing best practices and mentoring startups at Slush, Startup Sauna, FiBAN and several international accelerator programs.
The Finnish Business Angel 2014
Ari Korhonen on yksi Suomen aktiivisimmista bisnesenkelisijoittajista ja toiminut useissa enkeliverkostoissa Suomessa ja ulkomailla. Korhonen on tehnyt yhteensä 23 bisnesenkelisijoitusta (kaikkiaan 78 sijoituskierrosta), joista tunnetuimpia ovat DealDash, Paytrail ja MariaDB (entinen SkySQL).
Korhonen on omalla aktiivisuudellaan ja toiminnallaan inspiroinut monia aloittamaan startup-sijoittamisen. Korhonen korostaa omassa bisnesenkelitoiminnassaan porukassa sijoittamisen tärkeyttä, “tämä ei ole yksinäisten susien hommaa” ja hajautetun portfolion rakentamista riskin pienentämiseksi: “Kaikkia munia ei kannata laittaa samaan koriin, kannattaa rakentaa portfoliota”. Korhosen pääkriteerinä sijoituksen tekemiselle on tiimin rooli: “Hyvä tiimi muokkaa usein huonostakin liikeideasta menestyksen, kun taas heikompi tiimi voi pilata hyvänkin idean”.
The Finnish Business Angel 2013
Jari Ovaskainen is known in Finland for his first business deal done in 2000 when he sold Iobox, a web portal he’d founded, to the Spanish operator Telefónica’s subsidiary company Terra Mobile for €230 million. After this Mr. Ovaskainen has worked closely with startup companies. His investment portfolio includes for example Next Games, Stylewhile, Miivies ja Atacama Labs, and Supercell. Supercell’s majority was sold this October to the Japanese mobile operator SoftBank and game company GungHolle for €1,1 billion. Mr. Ovaskainen was the first investor in Supercell.”Mr. Ovaskainen’s role as ”the first investor in Supercell” is also very inspirational for others to bravely head towards new potential growth sectors like gaming.”