Despite the travel restrictions in place, Takeoff Partners portfolio company Videoly has taken on the task of seeking growth in North America. It is working, and now the startup is opening an office in Toronto to take things to the next level.
Kim Väisänen, the former CEO and Co-Founder of Blancco, describes himself as co-entrepreneur and his everyday life as ‘a game of roulette’. The risks associated with entrepreneurship have attracted Kim to invest in approximately 20 companies, yet one day he sees himself wearing the startup hat again.
Translated and modified from an original article in Finnish in OP Media.
A few years back, Kim Väisänen and his business partners sold Blancco, the data erasure software company they had founded and grown into a global business. Kim was eyeing a future working in a stock-listed company. Not for long. The father of three small kids soon decided it was time to spend a year as house husband.
After a year at home with kids, Kim returned to work. Taking up entrepreneurship again would have been a lucrative idea, yet with the responsibility for customers, employees and interest groups, Kim considered it too time and energy consuming for the (short and precious) period when the kids are small. He then opted for what he calls co-entrepreneurship; investing his time and money in many companies that are still run by other people.
”I’d like to think I have gained knowledge and experience that may benefit other entrepreneurs”, Kim says. “I feel it as my responsibility to give both mental and financial support to others, as I have received those myself in the past.”
Uncertainty is a positive thing
According to his own calculations, Kim Väisänen has been involved in 20 or so companies over the years. Starting out as co-entrepreneur, he set clear guidelines for what kinds of companies he’d like to work with: Prospects for strong growth, also beyond the Finnish borders.
“My criteria have nothing to do with the reality, though”, Kim admits. “I nowadays always go with my intuition. Investing is a game where things will work out fine if you’re not too afraid of risks and rely on probabilities. It’s like the game of roulette.”
“Growing a company from scratch is difficult, and failures are way more common than successes. If the company I have invested in is successful, I receive my share through the increased value of the company”, Kim explains. “If not, I lose with the entrepreneurs and such is life with uncertainty. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
Disappointments encourage one to learn
Kim Väisänen is at ease with uncertainty, however he also reminds that disappointments are part of the game in entrepreneurship. “If you don’t take risks, you can’t win big. I have gone through disappointments, I’ve lost trust with some people, and I’ve also lost hundreds of thousands of money, yet I still invest in companies and dream of one day starting from square one myself”, Kim says.
One of the most important reasons for Kim’s faith in entrepreneurship is that generally, most people are trustworthy. The experiences of succeeding weigh more than disappointments on Kim’s scales, and he admits entrepreneurship is his thing.
Even though Kim works hard for the success of the companies he has invested in, he says the successes and potential failures don’t feel as personal as earlier when the entire responsibility was his own. As co-entrepreneur, he also has degrees of freedom that a full time entrepreneur rarely does: “Today I did a 10 km morning run, then had a massage, now this interview, plus a couple of work-related tasks in the afternoon. One of the most attractive illusions of entrepreneurship is that you’re controlling your own schedules”, Kim gives a laugh.
Entrepreneurial family background
Kim Väisänen grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and first denied entrepreneurship from himself. It wasn’t until late 1990’s that he first started working in his father’s company and subsequently gave in to his own business ideas and founded Blancco together with friends.
Kim now reckons that for the first time in a long long time his entire properties are not tied to one company. It obviously feels secure. Yet one thing is certain: One day Kim wants to start from zero again and found a new company. He’s very much driven by everything that relates to the ups and downs on the unknown road ahead.
“People tend to repeat their mistakes. An entrepreneur repeats what he can so he starts companies”, Kim laughs. “One thing though that’s common to the entrepreneurs I know is that they have this child-like faith in their own work. Maybe it’s self-confidence or general optimism, or both. I admit that my experiences have probably made me more cynical than many, yet my next company’s recipe for success will be exactly the belief that I can do this – together with people that I trust.”
Kim’s tips for a (returning) entrepreneur
- Find out if there’s genuine demand for your product or service. If there’s no market, there’s probably no demand either.
- Take as good care of yourself as your customers and employees.
- Celebrate successes. They are rare so they should be recognized.