People often ask me, why do I do angel investing?
People often ask me, why do I do angel investing?
My typical answer would be something on the lines of making money, learning new things and meeting interesting people. And that is the rational part of the answer. But actually deep inside of my entrepreneurial mind, the real reason for doing angel investing is around something much more. It is about that moment, when you realize, while confronting your most admirable competition eye to eye, that my product and service are most likely to win this. It´s about that moment when you first receive that ten times bigger order than you expected. And it´s about that look on your colleagues face while giving a toast in the closing dinner, after pushing through that great deal. It is that rear moment when you can be both proud, tired and happy about your own and your teams work. I am addicted to that elusive, short-lived sensation.
My two year tenure as the Chairman of FiBAN, world´s largest and most active angel network, is now ending. I could not be happier with the great achievements FiBAN members, board and staff have been able to deliver. In a truly Finnish, humble and very effective way, we are closing in on 500 paying members, have more syndicated investments, receive better deal flow and do more lucrative deals than ever before. In short, growth company financing in Finland is today supported by private investors that are of the highest international standard. FiBAN members have shown that FiBAN means business.
Out of the several great achievements during these years, I have to highlight two of them.
First; I am so pleased with our current status as a high level policy advocate on growth financing and business growth in general. The very fact that FiBAN is nowadays regularly referred to as the voice of private growth investors in public policymaking, media and international discussion related to well-performing Finnish startup ecosystem, is sign of a pronounced success in our policy work. I knowledge that policy work has not always been on the highest priority of most of our active angel members, but FiBAN is the only body to really represent business angels in the public debates. Our voice needs to be loud and clear on this; government, let the private sector do its part on growth financing and stay patient. If government does not over flow the market with public funding, great results will be delivered.
Second, FiBAN has securely fastened its position as important international player on the angel investment market. There are many examples of that. We managed the largest and most comprehensive EBAN winter university ever. During those two days in November 2014, we had more than 70 speakers and 400 participants under one roof to share best practices, horrible mistakes and just to catch up with colleagues. FiBAN´s way of supporting our beloved mother organization EBAN, was to do our best on organizing a memorable, fun and effective event. I think we succeeded on that. But there is much more to our international presence than “just” organizing great global events. We have several international members, that regularly visit our pitching events. FiBAN members are members in foreign angel groups. We cross-boarder syndicate. Our members push all of our companies to foreign markets ever sooner. And now there are even cases, where FiBAN angels are bringing foreign companies to re-patriate to Finland. All these activities are just making us stronger and stronger advocate of international growth.
I like to take this opportunity and specially thank my closest colleague Jan Oker-Blom, whom I had the pleasure to select to serve as a managing director of our organization. Jan has shown great ability to deliver tangible results, while making sure that all the members and staff remain satisfied. That is not always the easiest task, since our members did not become successful in their own fields of business by only following others. Nevertheless Jan is a great asset to FiBAN in the years to come. On the very same token, I have to thank certainly Europe´s, most likely World´s best, angel community manager Claes-Mikko Nielsen, who has singlehandedly entertained, informed and energized as all in those more than 100 events FiBAN has organized only during year 2014. Without Jan and Claes-Mikko our office would not be the same (simply because there would be no-one left)! So thank you both!
I also like to take this time and thank my colleague business angels in both of FiBAN boards, I had honor to chair. Your voluntary work is the essence of the existence of our organization. Without your sweat equity investment in FiBAN, we would not have this organization at all. I want also extend my full support to our next chairman Jaakko Salminen and the new board, who is now taking the helm. Thank you all!
And finally, I have to thank you all my dear FiBAN members. With your support I have had the opportunity to search for those glimpses of happiness as a Chairman. For me FiBAN has been an extraordinary trip that reminds of my best startups. It has had its ups and downs, but at the end there is a great exit.
Happy new year to you all,
Chairman of FiBAN
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