I’m very pleased to announce that Timo Haanpää joins Ross Republic as a senior advisor. His game is building new high tech ventures from inception to viable businesses, with particular expertise in deep tech; especially in AI and robotics. His focus will be on securing both public and private funding, building highly effective teams, as well as creating positive buzz and commercial support for new ventures.
Interviewing Timo Haanpää
Welcome to the crew Timo! Please tell a little about your background?
My background is in R&D, marketing, funding and PR; I create and distribute big stories for companies to attract the best employees and customers, in addition to private and public investment. Popularising high tech has been my day gig since 1999. Back then, stuff such as text-only mobile web browsers and ISDN were what passed for popular hi-tech; boy, these newfangled robots and AI’s are an easy sell!
As a tech nerd with no patience for math, I’ve always loved communication and HW tweaking starting in the 80’s BBS scene. I initially studied applied linguistics and simultaneous interpretation, but dropped out into the US tech bubble of the 2000’s. I’ve worked in a dozen multinationals, and with tens of startups as a founder, key team, advisor or investor.
You’ve worked in AI all the way back before the current craze. What’s up with that?
Trying to make me feel old? The field of AI has been a huge confluence of money and brains, so I’ve enjoyed quite the vantage point into all kinds of future tech; be it material or life science, robotics, new UI’s or even art, they all need AI and come calling. I like to think the result from a decade of marketing straight-outta-lab AI is a certain perspective into what’s possible, what’s realistic and when.
I’ve last been with ZenRobotics and Curious AI; both are venture-backed deep tech startups with strong ties to academia. VC research comes to play with major technological breakthroughs, as with steam power or electricity. Yes, I think AI is that big. But the 2020’s AI will be small.
AI is finally starting to give you bang for your buck. Big data, generic analytics and the data science of 1980’s vintage are still commonly sold as AI, although they’re slow, expensive and partial solutions at best. Modern AI technologies (e.g. deep learning based algorithms developed after 2015) are currently being packaged for regular software engineers’ use. I follow these emerging new vertical solutions closely, as they’re an excellent fit for multiple industries with little integration effort.
So how did you and Ross Republic come about?
Well, being young and impressionable, I was quite taken by a certain dashing Mr. Hyttinen in a shady bar in downtown Hell…well, that would be a cleaned up version! Anyway, we go back 15 years with Jussi, and it’s a pleasure to be working together with the kind of innovation-hungry folks Tintti, AK and Jussi are! Since company building is what I do, RR is spot on the kind of sparring partner and operational resource needed. I’ve also found plenty of touch points with my experience and the venture advisory side of RR.
So what kind of things are you currently working on with RR?
Ross Republic is a unique consultancy in the sense that all the guys understand startups intimately and have worked in them, but also pack years of experience in the enterprise world. Bringing these two worlds together in co-creation, outsourced innovation and acquisition cases is exciting.
To me, the most exciting and rewarding work is building new ventures. It’s about making the right people, backers and markets meet. Practically all of Ross’ cases have venture angle potential, be they idea stage startups or unseen corporate spinoffs. It takes solid analysis and often some funding innovation to build the investment case. And all projects benefit from a good story right from the beginning, so that’s what Jussi and I enjoy creating and distributing!
Any final words?
Also, constant risk-taking is a thing. I like what I see; everyone at Ross is playing with risk in their spare time (at an alarming rate!), indulging in e.g. martial arts, extreme sports or private investment. This makes you view life as a series of pre-game analytics and execution time. This mindset gives an understanding that at run-time things are always different and your plans don’t necessarily hold, which ultimately results in judged commitment. Over the decades, the repetitive mantra-like thought patterns, when you prepare for something you consider risky, shape you in a good way: The consideration of your possible moves, the odds, the necessary resources, the outcomes and whether the rewards justify the actions are a great perspective on practically anything.