Our team

Lifeline Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm founded by serial entrepreneurs. Our team has a wide global experience with diverse entrepreneurial and CxO backgrounds enabling us to help our portfolio teams with their needs. Being based in Finland we have local knowledge and can support our portfolio founders quickly with things big and small. Due to our global backgrounds and tight networks we are also well equipped to help our founders reach abroad for scaling, raising funding, recruiting, or advice.

We value honesty, trust, and openness. We believe in the ethos of ‘just doing it’ and often operate playfully while always aiming for excellence. If you would like to partner with us please send an email to one of us at firstname@lifelineventures.com – we would love to hear from you.

Timo Ahopelto

FOUNDING PARTNER

Timo has worked in several industries ranging from biotech to mobile apps and from digital media to industrial process technology. As the founding CEO of CRF Health, he grew the company into the industry leadership in electronic patient diaries in clinical R&D by 2007. In 2018, CRF Health became Finland’s fourth tech unicorn with exit to Genstar at €1.1bn. Timo is a highly connected member of the startup community and serves e.g. as the Chairman of the Board at Slush. At Lifeline Ventures, he has worked e.g. with Moves, Enevo, Oncos Therapeutics, TrademarkNow, Curious AI, ZenRobotics, Ductor and Oura. Timo spends his free time playing ice hockey, lifting weights and with his family.

Jyri Engeström

PARTNER

Jyri has invested in several unicorns including Unity, Oura, Iceye and Boom Supersonic. Jyri’s entrepreneurial journey began with Jaiku, a mobile social networking service he co-founded with Petteri Koponen and sold to Google in 2007. He sold his second company Ditto, a recommendation service, to Groupon in 2012. In 2020 he founded Primary Diagnostics, a healthcare platform serving tens of millions of people across the U.S. For four years Jyri was at True Ventures, a leading Silicon Valley venture fund, where he invested in e.g. Iceye, the world’s largest radar satellite constellation, with Lifeline. Alongside Lifeline Ventures Jyri is Partner at Yes VC, a venture firm he co-founded with Caterina Fake in San Francisco. Yes VC has notable investments in carbon capture, post-fossil energy, space and AI. Jyri combines company-building with venture investing. “Entrepreneurship is a skill. It takes discipline and practice. Each company we build improves our hit rate going forward.”

Elina Holkko

PARTNER AND CFO

Elina joined Lifeline Ventures in the beginning of 2022. Before joining Lifeline she worked at the Finnish Climate Fund preparing funding decisions and being in charge of finance and reporting. She also has a long background in management consulting at August Associates where she worked in various finance and business development projects with both listed and private equity owned companies. Furthermore, she has been in charge of management reporting development and led a group-wide product costing program while working at HKScan, a Nordic FMCG company. At Lifeline Ventures, Elina is responsible for group finance operations, risk management, compliance and ESG topics, works hands-on with founders to solve various business and finance issues, oversees fund administration and acts as point of contact for investors. In her free time, she spends time with her family, plays golf, goes skiing or to crossfit classes and reads.

Petteri Koponen

FOUNDING PARTNER

Petteri has founded five companies, including Jaiku and First Hop. In addition to the various start-up CxO roles and board memberships, he has been the chairman of Supercell, Grand Cru, Everywear Games and Smartly.io. Petteri has experience on public companies as a board member of Elisa, Finland’s largest telco, in addition to working for Google in Mountain View and London after its acquisition of Jaiku. In his free time, Petteri hangs out with his family, pumps iron, plays games, writes (toy) code, and enjoys books and movies. He is currently the chairman of Wolt and Varjo.

Aapo Kyrölä

ENTREPRENEUR-IN-RESIDENCE

Aapo joined Lifeline as Entrepreneur in Residence in August 2023. He is exploring new startup ideas, and shares Lifeline his expertise in ML/AI, general software and product development. When Aapo was just 20y old, he co-founded Sulake (Habbo Hotel). Later on Aapo moved to the USA for his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the top-ranked Carnegie Mellon University. In 2012 he co-founded Moves, backed by Lifeline Ventures and acquired by Facebook (Meta) in 2014, at Meta Aapo was lead engineer in the AI infrastructure and platform organizations. He lived in the Silicon Valley until moving back to Helsinki in 2021. In his free time, Aapo spends time with his international family,  reads books, plays the Game of Go, enjoys nature (especially in Lapland) and perhaps does an adequate amount of exercise.

Juha Lindfors

MANAGING PARTNER

Juha’s background is in private equity and investments. He has been investing together with Lifeline Ventures since 2010 and joined Lifeline Ventures as a partner in January 2016 when Lifeline Ventures Fund III Ky was raised. He was previously a partner with EQT, a leading private equity firm. Before joining Lifeline Ventures, Juha has been an active angel investor and co-investor in small- and medium-sized buy-outs. Juha has long experience from the growth-focused private ownership model. At Lifeline Ventures, Juha has worked e.g. with Altum Technologies, Blok, Minima Processor, Realstocks, Solar Foods, Sulapac and Swappie. Juha likes to spend his free time doing things with his family; he’s also a keen reader and an occasional runner.

Teemu Mattila

PARTNER

Teemu joined Lifeline Ventures in 2023. His investment approach is shaped especially by the teachings of Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth and Josh Waitzkin, emphasizing growth mindset, resilience, and continuous learning. Prior to joining Lifeline, Teemu was a Partner at DN Capital, a global early-stage VC firm based in London & San Francisco. For leisure, Teemu insists that HIIT workouts are his personal Turing test – a relentless series of algorithms designed to separate the fit from the merely ambitious.

Maija Muntila

TALENT LEAD

Maija joined Lifeline in Spring 2024. Maija works with the Lifeline portfolio companies on all things people and talent, with the goal of making sure the companies find and keep the right talent. Prior to joining Lifeline, she has led the people team at Slush and worked as a recruiter. Outside work, Maija enjoys sports, namely dancing, reading, traveling (especially in France), and spending time with friends.

Laura Pehkonen

BUSINESS CONTROLLER AND RISK MANAGER

Laura joined Lifeline Ventures in the Spring 2023. Before joining Lifeline she worked in the asset management industry with a strong focus on tasks such as valuation, reporting and risk management of investment baskets and funds. At Lifeline Ventures Laura is operationally responsible for all financial matters with tasks in fund administration, group finance operations, risk management and compliance. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, family, and friends, and she has a passion for various sports such as going to the gym, running, or cycling.

Eerika Savolainen

ENTREPRENEUR-IN-RESIDENCE

Eerika joined Lifeline as Entrepreneur in Residence in June 2024, and divides her time between exploring new startup ideas and supporting portfolio companies. Before joining Lifeline, Eerika led Slush as the CEO. Outside work, Eerika enjoys sports, board games, and hiking trips.

Sonja Seppälä

ADMIN AND OPERATIONS MANAGER

Sonja joined Lifeline in the Spring 2022. Sonja’s role is to support in Lifeline’s administrative tasks and operations. Sonja has a long and solid experience in demanding administrative tasks in law, investment and engineering companies. In her free time Sonja loves to play golf, spend time with friends, enjoying good food and sports – preferably by the sea and nature.

Kai Bäckman

ADVISOR

Kai has over three decades of experience with software, and has spent a decade of his life in San Francisco Bay Area learning from the best software engineers on how to handle massive scaling. Among other things he worked as an engineer at Google where he led the Docs server team. He also founded Tinkercad, the first browser based 3D CAD tool with 7M users globally, and Airstone, a company developing an experimental 32-dimensionally connected supercomputer. Kai joined Lifeline Ventures in 2016 and has been working with Aiven, Nanojet, Timegate, Shapr3D and Varjo. He is now an independent member of the Lifeline Ventures’ management company. He spends his free time doing weight lifting, hunting, competitive shooting and teaching his offspring to do heavy gardening.

Ilkka Paananen

ADVISOR

Ilkka, the CEO of Lifeline Ventures’ previous portfolio company Supercell, is a games entrepreneur with +10 years of experience in growing organizations from the founding team to a size of few hundreds. Before Supercell, Ilkka was President at Digital Chocolate, running its Studios in Helsinki, Barcelona and Silicon Valley. In his free time, Ilkka enjoys time with his family and tries to find time for sports, music and books.

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