Supercell Investor Encourages Young Entrepreneurs: Go Global From the Start

20.3.2014 2014

With enough practice, you can give a good elevator speech even in Japanese, says Petteri Koponen.

Petteri Koponen, a Supercell investor and ex-chair of the board has plenty of experience of listening to sales pitches. Last week he acted as a jury member at YES Finland Proper’s JA Start Up pitching competition at the HK Arena in Turku.

In Turku Koponen listened to four college-level JA Start Up companies’ elevator speeches. By chance, each business idea was some kind of web service.

Koponen immediately made note of one thing the JA companies’ could invest in more:

“When it comes to web services, you should immediately think bigger. It’s a big step to start using an online service these days, so you should offer something of value or something entertaining to the user,” Koponen says.

”If you want to start a big business, you will need a large number of users. Why not go global from the start? You could start an international business with the same effort.”

What does Koponen look for in a good elevator speech?

“The most essential thing you must bring forward is the lack of service your business idea will fulfill,” Koponen says.

He also underlines the importance of practice.

”With sufficient practice you can give you pitch speech even in Japanese. If you want to learn to be good, there is plenty of study material online. You should compare your presentation to them critically.”

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Koponen with the JA Start Up pitching competition winner company Pitchdea, Koponen in the center. On the right, JA Finland’s CEO Virpi Utriainen.

Surprisingly, Koponen does not want to overemphasize the importance of pitching. He rarely attends expos or other events where elevator speeches are usually given.

”Of course you can always practice pithcing, but if investors are interested in an idea, we will want to have an actual discussion,” Koponen says.

But what advice would he give to teachers? What skills should they teach youths to encourage them to entrepreneurship?

“I’d make students work independently on something really difficult and outside their comfort zone, and trust their skills.”

He also encourages teachers to expose students to outside impressions by, among other possibilities, taking them to a Slush event or helping them get an internship position for a few days or weeks at an ambitious company.

”If a teacher has no personal experience of entrepreneurship, teaching it may easily become dull and pointless. It would be the same if I suddenly started to teach singing. I could send my student to a concert and make her read theory, but would she learn to sing?”

In other, students learn best by doing.

”Entrepreneurship is a process where one must convince people and organize things. Engaging in these kinds of projects is better practice than reading books,” Koponen says.

 

Koponen’s investment company Lifeline Ventures supports entrepreneurs, innovation, and science.

Supercell is a Finnish video game company, whose most famous titles are Hay Day and Clash of Clans. Their sale to a Japanese company for over a billion euros in October 2013 lifted them to public knowledge and made them one of Finland’s most valuable companies.

 

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