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Jani Penttinen joins byFounders as Entrepreneur in Residence

Serial entrepreneur and founder of Transfluent, Jani Penttinen, joins early stage venture capital fund byFounders as its first Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) to support the next generation of Nordic and Baltic founders.

Having left the CEO position of his brain child Transfluent, Europe’s fastest growing translation company, in November 2018 Finnish entrepreneurial mastermind Jani Penttinen is again ready to undertake new ventures. This time together with the early-stage venture capital fund byFounders, appointing Penttinen as its first Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR).

Pioneering a Concept

While common in Silicon Valley, the concept of Entrepreneurs in Residence is relatively novel across the Nordics and Baltics. In Finland, Penttinen is pioneering the practice:

“We’re super excited to welcome Jani as our first EIR, where he will draw on his experience of building truly global businesses. As one of the founders of the Finnish Startup Foundation, Jani is uniquely positioned to strengthen byFounders’ presence in the Finnish tech ecosystem, ensuring a high quality deal flow. At the same time he will provide invaluable support to our existing portfolio companies. This move underscores our ambition to “pay it forward” and bring out the best from the next generation of Nordic and Baltic founders.”

Eric Lagier, Managing Partner at byFounders

Unique experience and insight

As EIR, Penttinen will join the accomplished byFounders Collective while building his new global business – a discipline in which he has plenty of experience. Prior to founding Transfluent, Jani built the online community XIHA Life, which at its peak connected over 26 million users from more than 200 countries, virtually transcending language barriers. Upon identifying the opportunity for adding a B2B dimension to the platform, Jani established the spin-off Transfluent and subsequently moved to California to expand to the North American market.

“It is a rare moment for a startup founder to be in-between two companies. Transfluent has grown to a point where it was time for me to move on, and I definitely intend to create something new and great again. While I prepare for my next gig, byFounders offered a chance to use my experience as a founder to help other Nordic founders find funding for their exciting new businesses. For me this is an opportunity to meet with smart entrepreneurs and learn a lot while being able to share what I have learned over the years.”

Jani Penttinen, Founder of Transfluent and EIR at byFounders

For Founders byFounders

Established in 2017, the early stage venture capital fund byFounders is actively investing in tech startups across the Nordics and Baltics. Made up of some of the region’s most accomplished entrepreneurs, such as the founders of Skype, Kahoot, Zendesk, Unity, Tradeshift, Sitecore and Vivino, the byFounders Collective invests and supports the next generation of globally ambitious founders.

Beyond merely investing, byFounders offers strong operational guidance to its portfolio companies to accelerate their value creation. A strong presence and great networks in both the Nordics and Silicon Valley, the fund serves as a springboard for growth.

“We see a growing number of accomplished founders wanting to support our mission, and appointing our first EIR is but one way of leveraging their accumulated experience and knowledge.”

Eric Lagier, Managing Partner at byFounders

If you are a Finnish startup looking to engage with the most well-connected VC across Nordics, Baltics and Silicon Valley, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jani Penttinen on hello@byfounders.vc.

iPads are raising a new generation of kids

iPads are really raising a new generation of kids. I was shocked to notice that Tian, at 4 years old, can read. Not just couple sight words, but really read. He says he self-taught himself because he needed to understand what the text in the various apps says.

The best part is, he doesn’t seem to think much of it. It’s just a necessary skill that he had to learn so he did it. He hasn’t talked about it to anyone, I just one day heard him reading on his own.

It’s amazing how much kids can learn when learning is fun. With this in mind, I think Lightneer is onto something with their educational games!

This is a repost of my Facebook post.

The Miracle of Mobile Phones

We use mobile phones daily and frequently complain about things such as boring user interface or the difficulty of finding quality content among the millions of apps in the app stores. Smart phones did not even exist a decade ago, and the first bulky mobile phones took their initial baby steps just two decades ago, so I think it’s reasonable to sit back and admire the technology marvel that is our era.

Just about every day, I sit in the car with the whole family. Going shopping or to the park, my phone makes it all happen. First of all, there’s music playing from the car’s audio system—it comes from the phone via Bluetooth audio connection. Because I’m new to the area, I also often listen to voice guided navigation gently speaking over the music and telling me when to make a turn.

The phone itself might be on the backseat where the kids are playing a game, watching a video or—their favorite pastime these days—learning Chinese characters. But the phone’s magic doesn’t stop there. Sitting next to me, my wife could be using a laptop, browsing for interesting places to visit over the Internet, or using the Wi-Fi hotspot shared by my phone.

And of course, let’s not forget that these little wonders can also be used for making phone calls. It almost seems like an afterthought sometimes, and I guess we take it for granted, but I still remember going to conferences and trying to set up meetings with people I had never met, without any means of connecting with them if we couldn’t find each other. The time before mobile phones was much different!

The same little device, a few millimeters thick and just about 100 grams in weight, effortlessly manages as an Internet server, entertainment center, navigator, and game player. The battery lasts for a long time, and if it runs out, I can just plug the phone to the nearest USB port (there’s one in the car and a couple more in my laptop), and it gets charged in no time. There’s no need to hunt for a power outlet like I need to do when my laptop runs out of power.

Software

There are hundreds of thousands of apps available. Many of them free, while some cost a buck apiece. Gone are the days when a piece of software would cost $50, but the quality and the quantity of apps are something never seen before on any platform. Conveniently, I can buy a game on my iPhone, and my kids can immediately pick it up and play on their iPad. When my wife buys some music on the computer, the next time I sit in the car, the album starts to play on the car’s audio system, which can at times be a little surprising!

The phone can replay HD-quality video better than most laptop computers can. In fact, I can record full HD video, edit it easily, and post it to the Internet without ever touching a computer. The phone does amazing 3D graphics that would have required a-state-of-the art PC just a few years ago. Yet most people can afford one if they want to buy one. You just commit to paying $20 per month on your phone bill for the next couple of years, and the phone is yours right away. It’s amazing how the mobile phone industry has perfected the technology, the software and the business model, and completely changed the way we live our lives. Much of the thanks obviously goes to the late Steve Jobs who took what Nokia had created in the previous decade and made it into something everyone can use and enjoy.

In the title photo: Four years ago, Nokia E90 was still state of the art. It was probably the last of the old-era smart phones, launched just before the iPhone arrived and changed everything.