TALKBBQ: Juuso Koskinen, VC at byFounders



Do we have a ‘founder friendly’ culture in the Nordic countries? What does it mean? And more important, how do we co-create a ‘founder friendly’ culture in the Nordic region? inQvation has joined forces with TechBBQ and Synch to take a closer look at the term: ‘founder friendly’ and what it really means. In this series of articles, we’ve asked five central stakeholders in the ecosystem to provide us with their views on the Nordic investment culture.

Juuso Koskinen is Venture Associate at byFounders focusing on meeting with and supporting the best early-stage startups from across the Nordics and Baltics. Since 2012, Juuso Koskinen has been part of the Nordic startup world. Before joining byFounders in 2019, he was an associate at Open Ocean VC where he focused at B2B software companies.

What do you think of the Nordic investment culture?

I think, we (the Nordics) have taken a big leap recently, moving towards our peers in Europe and US, reflected in the number of active funds and the round sizes. I see two things happening in parallel. More international funds are paying attention to the Nordics, by being actively present and investing in the region. At the same time, local funds emerge ant an unprecedented rate. Compared with just a few years ago, Nordic startups are now spoilt for choice, which means they have more leverage to negotiate. Thus, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that VCs operating in the Nordics need to be both agile and offer founder-friendly terms in order to win the best deals.

Juuso Koskinen, VC at byFounders

Is it founder friendly or not?

Increasingly so. I think we’re not perfect yet, but we are definitely on the right track. A number of new funds have committed to investing on founder friendly terms and this pushes the entire ecosystem in that direction.There are some interesting dynamics in the VC world, and the power of FOMO or positive peer pressure shouldn’t be underestimated. They can be, and are being, applied to improve conditions for founders all around.

How do you understand ‘founder friendly’ in relation to investments?

For me ‘founder friendliness’ consists of every interaction we have with startups, whether we invest in them or not. Being a ‘founder friendly’ investor not only means a good term sheet, but to support the team throughout the investment process. Most importantly, we as VCs should be as transparent as possible on matters such as the status of the deal at any given point, what kind of terms we are considering, and give the founders feedback on our main concerns if we end up passing on the opportunity.

According to you, what do we need to do in Denmark, if we want to keep the successful start-ups here?

For companies to thrive here, at least two things are needed: access to investments and access to talent. We need to make sure that people who have been successful in the past are willing to re-invest their money into local startups. I think it’s really important for the early-stage startup ecosystem to have a vibrant pay-it-forward culture where successful entrepreneurs help the next generation of founders.

Secondly, we need to make it as easy as possible for Danish companies to attract talent from everywhere. The global competition for talent is fierce, and the amount of talented people in Denmark alone is not enough, currently forcing companies to move abroad.

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