Leo Capital brings global tech investing expertise to Helsinki’s VC scene 

Based in Singapore, venture capital investor Leo Capital took the leap in late 2023 to expand to Europe. Helsinki won over co-founder Shwetank Verma and Europe-based Partner, Henry Goodwin. Discover Leo Capital’s Helsinki success story and learn how they are helping Finnish startups go global. 


5 min read

  • Leo Capital, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, expanded to Europe in late 2023, choosing Helsinki due to its strong tech talent and engineering legacy.
  • The 90 Day Finn Program by Helsinki Partners played a large role in Leo Capital’s successful entry into the Finnish market.
  • Leo Capital aims to assist Finnish startups in scaling globally, especially in the U.S. market. They bring expertise in building cross-border teams and a U.S. go-to-market strategy, helping startups overcome challenges in talent acquisition and market expansion.

Tackling the challenges of European expansion 

Expanding to Europe isn’t always easy for international funds. The EU has many Union-wide and country-specific regulations in place, which presents a fair amount of compliance burden for these funds. Reporting requirements must adhere to EU standards, adding complexity to the operations of foreign investors. Different European countries approach the integration of international funds in their ecosystems differently, with varying degrees of ease. Still, Europe entices with a wealth of tech success stories, and nowhere is this more true than in the Nordics. 

B2B SaaS is what we primarily focus on. Not all European countries have the same landscape and track record in that space that Finland does with its strong tech and engineering background. Success stories are coming through all the time.

Henry Goodwin, Venture Partner for Europe, Leo Capital 

Finland consistently ranks highly in the Talent Competitiveness Index, which is one reason it’s become Europe’s fastest growing unicorn factory. Leo Capital felt that the issue of talent is growing ever more relevant due to the relative scarcity of world-class tech talent, challenges around immigration, and the increased prevalence of remote work and cross-border teams. Leo Capital’s expertise in building tech teams in India creates a strong synergy between what Leo Capital is trying to achieve and what Finland represents. 

The size of the ecosystem is also something to consider when you’re venturing in from outside. Many European countries have big, dense, and competitive ecosystems where getting access to the right people and the right deals can be hard unless you’re deeply embedded in that ecosystem. The Nordics, according to Verma, seemed like a good option thanks to its smaller size, while still packing enough of a world-scale punch to be meaningful to Leo Capital’s vision. A welcoming attitude towards newcomers also tipped the scales in the Nordics’ favour. 

The Nordics was an attractive region for us because of its openness to outsiders. It felt like a more welcoming ecosystem. Founders in the Nordics are building global businesses from day one.

Shwetank Verma, Co-founder, Leo Capital 

Helsinki Partners grants access to the Finnish ecosystem 

But how do you take the first step towards entering a new market? For Shwetank Verma, the 90 Day Finn Program hosted by Helsinki Partners was key to making the leap. The program presented a unique opportunity to spend three months on the ground, gaining invaluable insights and establishing crucial connections within the local ecosystem. When it came to expanding the operations of Leo Capital, the 90 Day Finn experience and support offered by Helsinki Partners made Finland a clear choice. 

For us, Finland is exciting because we see parallels with what we know best in Singapore, for example. We can see that combination of government support, talent, and entrepreneurial zeal. They’re small markets but very dynamic.

Shwetank Verma, Co-founder, Leo Capital, 90 Day Finn 2022

Beyond the 90 Day Finn program, Helsinki Partners have continued to support Leo Capital’s journey to Finland. From introductions with the right people to opening bank accounts, the journey has been smoother together. 

Helsinki Partners is like having a local team member on the ground from day one. I think it’s easy to say that without their support we wouldn’t be this far along and we probably wouldn’t be  in Finland. They truly made it possible. The joke in Finland is that it’s not a country, it’s a country club, and with Helsinki Partners you have someone promoting your membership

Shwetank Verma, Co-founder, Leo Capital, 90 Day Finn 2022

“The support from Helsinki Partners has been phenomenal. I can’t think of an area where they haven’t been adding value for us right from day one. What’s particularly encouraging about what Helsinki Partners does is, they’re also reaching out on a global level. That’s really important with the way the world and the talent universe are changing. It’s important to see a public body thinking ahead,” agrees Goodwin. 

Leo Capital helps globally-minded Finnish startups grow 

Helsinki has no shortage of ambitious startups with their minds set on global success. Leo Capital brings invaluable expertise to the city by connecting founders with the right talent and supporting them on their way to the lucrative US market. Verma explains: 

“Talent is global now. One of the big changes we have seen is that a lot of work can now be done remotely. Not just coding but jobs like sales and marketing. This changes the talent playbook: how to build a cross-border team so that it’s all one culture, one team, and one company. A lot of founders are building fantastic tech products but haven’t thought the distribution through. So there is often a lot of tech talent in the early stages but relatively little in marketing and go-to-market especially. We’re able to add that support.” 

With their experience in building and working with cross-border teams, Leo Capital aims to support Finnish founders in bridging talent gaps that can significantly impact a company’s success in the global market. And speaking of a global market… 

“For SaaS companies in Finland, the US is an important market. Our US go-to-market playbook is a very useful tool that we bring to the table. We know how to decide whether to move to the US, how to enter that market, and how to scale your business for it. All these questions that founders are having, we know how to answer and how to start thinking about it.” 

3 tips for VCs looking to expand to Europe 

1. You need to know why you exist. 

“There are lots of VC firms out there, so you need to be clear on what you bring to the market that is unique and that truly belongs to you,” says Verma. 

2. Expanding too far too quickly is risky. 

“We felt comfortable coming to Finland because there are lots of synergies with what we’re trying to achieve and the market is a manageable size. Have a careful think about where the best match for your strengths is. Biggest isn’t necessarily best,” says Goodwin. 

3. VC is a networks game. 

“Identify who your anchor LP is. That is an important part to get right from day one,” says Verma. 

Learn more about Leo Capital 

Leo Capital invests in early stage, B2B SaaS opportunities in India, SEA and the Nordics. Learn about Leo Capital’s new cross-border LEAP program for SaaS founders and how to pitch to them.

Apply for the Venture Nordics Program

Venture Nordics offers a unique, immersive experience for international fund managers and LPs to delve into Finland’s thriving sectors like gaming, software, and medtech. This exclusive program is your gateway to uncovering European investment gems and embracing the Nordic approach to work-life balance. Learn more and apply for the program.

Applications for the program run through February 18th.

Learn more about the Venture Nordics Program

Engage with Finland’s key market players, network with top VCs and startups, and discover practical insights into investment and operational strategies in Finland. Plus, enjoy leisure activities that showcase the best of the Finnish lifestyle!

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Contact Helsinki Partners

If you are interested in learning more about Helsinki and its possibilities – please contact us via the form here. We’ll make sure to get back to you within a few working days.

Juhana Hurtig