In conjunction with the launch, founding partner Maria Wasastjerna replied to our questions about the firm, and their strategy and approach to startups, In addition, she introduced their portfolio companies, and shared with us some thoughts about the future of the industry.
VCWire: Hi Maria, can you please tell us a bit more about you? What’s your background?
Maria: I am one of the founding partners of Kvanted Ventures. My focus is on digital and data driven innovations. Prior to founding Kvanted, I was a law firm partner working with M&A, regulatory, and corporate responsibility. Before that, I worked at Nokia and in the adtech startup Kiosked as general counsel.
I’ve always been passionate about digitalization and technology – for example, I wrote my PhD on the role of data in digital competition and the industrial revolution.
Another passion of mine is leadership: I co-founded one of the most popular business podcasts in Finland called Leadcast, where we interview successful entrepreneurs and business executives about their career paths and learnings on leadership and life more broadly.
VCWire: Can you introduce Kvanted?
Maria: Kvanted is a new early-stage investment company, with a first fund of €70 million. Kvanted was founded by Eerik Paasikivi, Axel Ahlström and I, and its focus is early-stage industrial technology startups in Northern Europe. We are proud to be the first pure-play industrial technology investor in the Nordic region.
The fund will invest in around 20 companies, with initial tickets ranging from €0.5 to €3 million, and a longer-than-average investment term to align with the longer development cycles in the industrial domain.
VCWire: Which is your overall strategy?
Maria: The industrial sector is the cornerstone of the European economy. But in terms of technological development and digital transformation, there is still a lot to be done – and a lot of untapped potential.
In Europe we have fantastic innovations capable of accelerating industrial decarbonization and digitalization – and contributing to a more sustainable world.
We invest in pre-seed to Series A in Northern Europe. We back both hardware and software, as well as service companies developing new solutions for the industrial value chain, with a strong focus on industrial automation, sustainability and supply chain resilience.
VCWire: Beyond capital, how do you support startups?
Maria: We make use of our team’s full arsenal of knowledge, networks and experience from working with startups, raising funds, accessing customers and big industrials in particular, navigating the legal and regulatory landscape, and just opening the right doors. Most importantly, we believe that in a world that’s built on endless data and projections, supporting with empathy can be the ultimate competitive advantage. We are there to support founders long-term, with our fund lifetime of 12 years, mirroring our ambition to develop ground-breaking hardware solutions.
Our startups also get support and benefit from our team’s broader networks and relations. Kvanted’s fund investors include prominent industrial players, including the established Finnish industrial owner Oras Invest, and we also have an impressive group of Venture Partners; Suvi Haimi, founder of biomaterial company Sulapac and board member at the Finnish Startup Community; Lars Peter Lindfors, Head of Innovation at Neste; and Kai Öistämö, CEO of Vaisala and board member at Nokia. They actively support and work with Kvanted’s portfolio companies.
We are proud to say that combined we have decades of experience in supporting industrial innovations. This gives us and our founders a unique position.
VCWire: What do you like to see in founders?….And what don’t you like to see in them? I mean, is there something which impresses you at a first glance?
Maria: There’s a few things we look for in the entrepreneurs we back. Firstly, you have to have curiosity. Building a company is a life-long learning where one needs to embrace a growth mindset, and for that you need a good amount of curiosity.
Secondly, we like mission-driven founders. We look for teams that are building truly ground-breaking solutions with potential to change the industry for the better. In other words, we look for brave, ambitious founders not afraid to take on the task of driving the next Industrial Revolution.
VCWire: Please, tell us a bit more about the portfolio
Maria: Our portfolio is already on a great track while still in its early stages. We’ve invested in two brilliant startups addressing industrial challenges.
Our first investment, Fractory, founded in 2017, is an automated on-demand manufacturing platform that connects engineers with production capacity. It streamlines the manufacturing procurement process, handling everything from quoting to manufacturing and delivery, while ensuring quality and timing. The company aims to optimize machinery usage by distributing jobs based on manufacturer availability, lead time, expertise, and capabilities.
Our second investment, Resoniks, founded in 2022, is developing an AI-powered acoustic analysis solution for quality control. By combining acoustics and artificial intelligence, Resoniks detects anomalies in metal components by analyzing their acoustic response. This automates monotonous and potentially hazardous inspections and ensures products meet strict quality standards. With Resoniks, companies, especially in automotive and maritime, can identify defects invisible to the human or machine eye, reducing waste and energy consumption.
The companies are prime examples of industrial technology startups with mission-driven teams. Both companies are reinventing processes to enhance industrial efficiency and demonstrate immense potential in improving the industrial value chain.
VCWire: Which sector/s would you bet 2 cents in the next five years?
Maria: Generally, industrial technology is a super exciting and fast growing sector considering venture capital funding. In Europe, industrial technology startups receiving most funding so far have been in the areas of logistics and robotics. Interesting sectors that Kvanted is following closely include industrial automation, using emerging AI and robotics in manufacturing, biomaterials and regulation-driven replacement of plastics, software and hardware solutions enabling shift to hydrogen, as well as battery end of life solutions, just to name a few fascinating areas that we are keen on.