10 Questions for Ari Seppänen

We had an opportunity to catch with another one of our new Business Advisors here at Aalto Startup Center, Ari Seppänen, to ask him 10 questions. He talks about his vast expertise, the importance of being customer-centric, and his relentless attitude to walk his dog!

Ari Seppänen joined us from the Innovations and New Experiments unit at the City of Helsinki’s Economic Department.

He has been coaching startup teams for several years towards credible international business so that the target customers are as fundable as possible. He has consulted and evaluated hundreds of pitches and pitch decks. He has great understanding of the challenges that startup teams are facing on their bumpy road and how to overcome them.

Ari Seppänen will be mainly working with our new teams at Urban Tech Helsinki but also offering his support to Aalto Startup Center’s portfolio companies!

Ari Seppänen


10 Questions for Ari Seppänen

Welcome Ari! 

Q1. Could you tell us some fun facts about yourself, Ari?

Tell some fun fact.. hmm how can such a ‘serious’ man tell any fun facts about himself. No, I really mean that you have to have a ‘funny’ twinkle in your eyes whatever you are doing. This is a kind of motto that guides me. Otherwise, your life can become too heavy and serious.

Q2. What made you want to work at Aalto Startup Center?

I joined Aalto startup center from the Innovations and New Experiments unit at the City of Helsinki‘s Economic Department. Aalto Startup Center has been familiar to me for many years and I already knew many current teammates in advance, so the decision to become one member of the Aalto Startup team was easy to make. To have the possibility to concentrate also on Urban Tech Helsinki startups made the decision ever easier.

Q3. What kind of business expertise will you bring to Aalto Startup Center?

I’ve been involved in the startup ecosystem for almost a decade in the Helsinki metropolitan area – been in an inner circle for 5 years as a startup and business coach, having investment and advisory board experience from a tech startup. I emphasize with very practical things and that the end user / the customer is always taken into account whatever you do. Planning is 1 % and executing 99 %!

Q4. How do you plan to fulfil your role at Aalto Startup Center, Ari?

As mentioned before, I will be the guy who reminds the startups and its team members that everything you do should be as customer-centric as possible.

Q5. Do you have any other interesting stories to tell us?

This COVID pandemic times have been difficult times for many people and for several reasons. Among other things, traveling almost stopped and it is now recovering in very small steps. I really miss the culture of different countries and atmosphere abroad. Before corona times, I had an opportunity to attend a last and very memorable business trip in late 2019. I had the possibility to participate in Switch – Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology 2019. The trip was memorable, not just because we had very good built environment and MedTech startups from Finland, who made a difference, but also because at the same time the Finnish national football team qualified for the first time ever to European championship Venue. We had a small but loud group of Finnish football funs encouraging and cheering for Finland and the celebrations continued in Singapore that night until morning.

Q6. Have you a preferred working style?

Co-working and doing things together in a way that a focus is kept. Early phase startups have so many issues to take care of. It’s important to do the right things in the right time, reflecting your startup phase.

Q7. Do you have any key piece of advice for startups?

I’m repeating myself but, stay focused, build your feedback loop immediately, be customer and user oriented in everything you do – and execution is everything.

Q8. How are you enjoying the onboarding process?

It important to stay in the ‘right track’ from very beginning. Even though it takes some time, it pays off.

Q9. How will you unwind at the end of the day?

Walking the dog .. It has been a routine for over 12 years with my Portuguese water dog. I really enjoy it regardless of the weather, whether it shines or rains.

Q10. How can startups get in touch with you, Ari?

My week begins in Aalto startup center in Otaniemi. I will be also in Maria 01 at least on Tuesdays, and Fridays in Urban 3 building. And of course you can reach me anytime by email, phone name it. See you!

Thank you Ari! It’s been a pleasure to welcome you to the team and I’m sure our startups are excited to work with you. 


Want to read more about others on our Aalto Startup Center team? Click here to read our previous “10 questions for…” article.