Aki Soudunsaari joins Coventures

We are delighted to announce that Aki Soudunsaari has joined Coventures as an Entrepreneur in Residence. Aki is an energetic serial entrepreneur with a mission to improve people's health, happiness, and performance in a planet-positive way. 

Aki is probably best known for co-founding Naava, the world leader in green walls and biological indoor air purification. At Naava, Aki served as CEO and in various strategy and brand/marketing roles. Naava is listed in the Financial Times' Fastest Growing Companies in Europe 2020 list and has received multiple sustainability and design awards.

Aki has raised +20 M€ for Naava in VC funding. Aki has received innovation awards and has been shortlisted as Entrepreneur of the Year multiple times by EY and PWC. Aki regularly writes for Forbes US.

Let's give Aki a chance to tell us more about himself and how he will use his experience to help customers grow their businesses. 

Tell us how you ended up here.

I have always been enthusiastic about creating new ideas and building businesses, and have enjoyed being around creative and forward-looking people. This is the air I want to breathe - the best way to influence the future is to create it.

I've been playing beach volleyball with Marko, CEO of Coventures, for the last few years. We've had a lot of meaningful conversations about entrepreneurship, entrepreneur’s skill sets, and all things related to venture building - startups, growth companies, and the startup ecosystem. 

Based on those discussions, we decided we needed to get together to do something. Now that my decade-long stint at Naava has ended, I am excited to join the Coventures community as an entrepreneur and help clients find ways to grow and thrive.

What sort of experiences have you had? Where does your background lie?

I'm a venture decathlete – a generalist in new venture creation. I started my first company in 2007 at university and have since launched +10 ambitious concepts or companies, especially around health, sustainability, and most of them in the built environment context

I have gained experience in health coaching, high-tech green walls, indoor climate optimization, carbon-negative building materials, the future of workplaces, and sustainable development companies. I'm also behind Europe's largest real estate webinar series, Finland's biggest adventure sports races, and was part of the Finnish national team at the World Economic Forum. I’ve also advised several VC funds and CVCs.

What are some of the most impactful ventures in your career?

Definitely Naava. It's the company I've taken the furthest. It's a global leader in indoor nature technology, operating on three continents. Naava employs around 100 people and has clients such as Google, Four Seasons, Lamborghini, Palantir, etc. Naava is a world leader in biological indoor air purification and indoor green walls with living plants.

As an entrepreneur, how do you help clients grow meaningful businesses?

I love the art of the start, the weird moment where someone realizes “this needs to exist.” Then the next question is: What’s next? 

This is my cup of latte - hands-on building concepts and companies. This also applies to growth ventures and corporations looking to expand to other markets, explore the move from B2C to B2B, or build a new venture to explore additional opportunities. 

My multidisciplinary background as a teacher, head of school, behavioral sciences, and versatile history as a startup scientist helps me dissect and focus on things that matter at the time of the new idea or venture creation. I also have an academic background, having worked in five different faculties, before focusing on building global growth companies. I worked in the fields of entrepreneurship, leadership, business design, and team building - I have a half-finished Ph.D. on building winning venture teams. I have also tried to put my knowledge into practice, for example, as co-founder and CEO of Naava.

Why Coventures?

Coventures is a great modern home for serial entrepreneurs working to solve difficult new revenue and new business challenges with our forward-looking clients. Coventures is uniquely positioned to offer hands-on support from experienced business builders and seasoned serial entrepreneurs for any new venture and growth company ecosystem players, including startups, corporates, and financiers.