Startup Sauna Puts Some Money Where Its Mouth Is, Secures Inventure Backing

Startup Sauna has always been a slightly puzzling thing. It acts ike an accelerator but does not fund startups. It simply offers European (mostly from Nordic countries) and Russian startups coaching sessions and demo trips to Silicon Valley, and takes no equity. That’s because it is funded by Finland’s Aalto University and the Finnish Funding agency for technology and innovation. However, it has its uses. It’s now announced an open term sheet agreement with venture fund Inventure. The fund will now offer seed funding to Startup Sauna’s best teams – so now there is real money involved. Inventure, based in Helsinki and Shanghai, will invest 100,000 Euro in exchange for taking 15 percent equity in each of the top three startups that will complete the Startup Sauna acceleration program. The VC will decide which startup will get the investment, and the final deal will be sealed between the fund and the startup.

According to Tuomas Kosonen, the partner at Inventure, the company plans to back at least one team in each of the Startup Sauna batches, but he did not exclude the possibility of backing more than three teams per year. Its term sheet has been agreed upon by Startup Sauna and its coaches, but the selected startup is not obligated to accept it. The investor will retain non-dilution rights for the seed round, should the team attract further investors into the company.

Inventure team will evaluate startups during the Warmups and coaching sessions, and the funding offer will be made shortly after the demo day.

Earlier this year, Startup Sauna released figures about its success in fundraising by its teams, indicating that its 36 alumni raised 8.6 million Euro in the first year of graduation. Here are just a few of the Startup Sauna graduates.

In the mobile space, Finnish Blaast enables feature and entry-level smart phone users a rich and fast mobile app experience, and  Lithuanian AdDuplex helps app developers promote their apps for free through its cross-promotion network (its Windows 8 platform was released recently).

Estonian Qminder developed a low-cost queue-management solution for small businesses on a shoe-string budget of 50,000 Euros it received from Seedcamp. Latvian interactive infographics startup has just released a new version, reporting 90,000 users.

Finnish Advacam invented a colored X-ray camera, which allows for inspecting composite materials, and secured three major clients during its acceleration program in Spring 2012. Another winner, the very niche iJudgeFights, has just raised 300,000 Euros to allow fans of mixed martial arts contests the opportunity to offer their opinions on judging decisions.

The new Startup Sauna program will begin on the 22nd of October, 2012.