Behind every successful company is a good partner. Chinese startup Kaipule uses digital technology to strengthen these ties between China and Western countries and now is expanding its operations with new Northern European headquarters in Helsinki.
Kaipule combines both online and offline expertise to connect Chinese investors and businesses with high-technology companies overseas. Founded in 2016, the ten person strong startup has offices in Shanghai, Tel Aviv and since early 2017 in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
“Finnish companies offer a good combination for Chinese investors, as they don’t have a huge domestic market and are very good at R&D,” says Jiayan Zhong, Vice President, Finland, at Kaipule. “A lot of Chinese companies are looking at countries like Finland.“
And Kaipule helps them find the right companies in which to invest. Its digital platform works in two ways: Chinese investors can use it to scout interesting leads and tech activity outside their country, while for Finnish entrepreneurs it can act as a door to growth capital and one of the world’s largest markets. Communication is facilitated with real-time translation and online chat features.
This has proved to be an appealing combination. The platform already hosts a database of over 1,500 Finnish and 5,000 Israeli companies and now Kaipule has a three-member team in Helsinki to help to grow these numbers across Northern Europe.
Helsinki has been on Kaipule’s radar from the start thanks to the city’s booming startup and technology scene. But the dealmaker was its strong focus on B2B products and services. Zhong says this is exactly what appeals to the type of investors Kaipule typically works with: big corporations and public companies looking for strategic investment target.
“Finland is very strong in technology and innovation. In many other European countries a lot of the high-tech companies and startups are very consumer-based, but in Finland there are a lot of deep tech companies, with roots in Nokia and other industries,” he explains. “Also gaming and cleantech are huge here. These are very attractive industries for Chinese investors.”
In addition to its online product, Kaipule offers advisory and negotiation services in the offline world. Notably it has already arranged a trip for Finnish companies to meet local investors at a major tech event in Qingdao, China.
Kaipule itself received similar help from Helsinki Business Hub (HBH) when planning its Helsinki move. Zhong says forming a company in Finland is easy, but HBH’s help was crucial in getting to know the business environment and the right people.
“HBH has a similar database of companies, so we are talking about future collaboration,” Zhong says. “They are also helping us with our expansion to other Nordic countries as they have good connections everywhere.”
Not only for startups
While Kaipule’s core strength is its work with growth startups, it also planning to tip the scales towards bigger companies in Finland. Long term the company plans is to become more involved with large Finnish corporations, both public and private.
“Our investors typically have an industrial background so they are not only looking for investment opportunities, but also partnerships,” Zhong says.
The startup is also working on new features for its platform, particularly one called ‘Kaipule Mapper’. This will visualise where different companies in its database fit within their industry’s value chain, which enables investors to screen companies based on more than just their sector and size.
All of this means plenty of work for the startup and its Helsinki office.
“In the next few years, we will definitely need more people in both technology and operations,” Zhong says. “We are thinking of growing the team in Helsinki to 10 people next year.”
Itself a startup, Kaipule is well equipped to understand the challenges of building up your market and finding the right investors and it believes Helsinki will play a major role in the company’s future.
“The Helsinki office is our Northern European headquarters and in the long term it could be our European headquarters as well,” Zhong says. “We start from Northern Europe, but eventually we hope to cover the whole continent.”
Text: Eeva Haaramo