Jaakko Piipponen, Finland born Remote Garage Founder in Texas

Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about where you are from originally and who you are.

My name is Jaakko Piipponen, and I’m from Finland. I studied in Helsinki School of Economics with study abroad at the University of Southern California and got a degree of B.S. in Finance. I worked briefly in investment banking in London, but now I’m building my 2nd startup Remote Garage which does storage on demand.

When and why did you move to the USA? Did you move alone?

I’ve been travelling between Finland and US since 2010, and this time I’ve been here since July last year. My fiancé (USA) goes to medical school in San Antonio, and why I ended up in Texas.

What do you enjoy most about San Antonio, now when you have more experience, how’s the quality of life compared to Finland, Los Angeles or London?

Everyone seems to be really friendly and welcoming here in Texas. In San Antonio, cost of living is probably half or less what I had in LA or London, and yet it still has plenty of things to do.

Usually there are some negatives, what are the ones for San Antonio that really stand out for you personally?

Only downside I can think of is that the city is not really walkable or have advanced public transportation system, which is something I got used to in Helsinki and London.

Do you feel San Antonio is a good place for you as an entrepreneur right now? Are there any areas expats like you might like in the USA in your opinion (entrepreneurs/startups WHY?

San Antonio has some significant advantages if you’re working in the some of the city’s strong areas such as cyber security. I strongly feel that new startup hubs should not try to outright copy Silicon Valley, but instead they should find out what are their own strengths and embrace them. Marc Andresseen discussed about this New York Times recently.
I’d also add that since the cost of living is still so low, it might attract more talented people here over time who get fed up with the high costs associated with the more typical tech hubs.

How would you rate the public transport? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?

You must own a car to get anywhere at all. Public transportation is passable in and around the focal points of the city, such as the UT Medical Center, but it typically takes 2-3 times longer to get anywhere with a bus compared to driving around.

Which are the best places/suburbs to live in San Antonio as an expat in your limited experience?

Popular areas tend to be around Alamo Heights, Stone Oak and if you’re working on anything health-related, the Medical Center. Downtown is an up-and-coming area too, as written recently in WSJ.

Do you go out a lot – hobbies? Or is everything about work right now?

Don’t really go out at this point since building startup keeps me busy, but the downtown and the River Walk are nice places to go out when we do. There are also some great parks north of the city, such as Friedrich Park, which are great for some hiking.

What’s the cost of living compared to Los Angeles? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

Pretty much everything is cheaper, and the housing costs in particular. I think San Antonio’s competitiveness in that area will be emphasized even further when they complete building of the Google Fiber here.

What are the locals in San Antonio like; or do you feel you mix mainly with other expats?

I have met none of the expats yet but only locals who are very friendly.

Did you think it is easy meeting people/other startups and making friends in San Antonio?

I just Googled “tech startups San Antonio” when I got here, and found the #1 place for startups here called Geekdom. Once you get the really cheap membership for the co-working space, you’re able to meet pretty much anyone working with startups in the area.

What’s the economic climate like in San Antonio, how would you compare it to the LA/Finland? Why? How does the work culture differ from Finland?

The city is growing really fast, and you can see construction everywhere (though luckily not too much on highways anymore, since they seem to be in pretty good condition).
People seem to work longer hours compared to Finland, and it seems there are less holidays here. Then again, with startups it seems to be pretty similar, since everyone has to work with all they have got or they face the risk of going under.
Compared to Los Angeles, the culture seems fairly similar or perhaps a little more relaxed.

Did you have any misconceptions about Texas that have turned out to be super wrong….or vice versa, you thought something will be great and it is exactly the other way around?

Since my fiancé is from here, I kind of knew what to expect. I find it interesting how people here are more proud of their state compared to Californians. Perhaps I still hoped to see a few more ranches and cows, but they tend to be farther away from the city.

Do you think your career (business) would be the same in Finland/LA – or does this work better for you? Either way, please explain more.

There’s a reason this is called the “land of opportunities”, so I’m confident it’s the right country to be in. People are used to seeing new entrepreneurs popping up and trying new things, and the welcome has been just phenomenal.
I don’t know how this is in Finland, but the market opportunity there is so much smaller I could not possibly start there. I really admire those who choose to stay there and can pull off something big, but at the same time it’s likely that some of the people choose to stay there and miss opportunities.

What are your favorite restaurants/bars in San Antonio – why ?

Rudy’s for BBQ, Taqueria Datapoint for Mexican, Thai Bistro for Thai. I generally just Yelp things and try to go and explore new places.

Is there any advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals or contemplating a move to San Antonio – especially for a startup??

Consider carefully whether here’s something that can give you an edge. If it’s something related to cyber security, telecom or cloud, this is probably a very good place to start. At the same time, SA is not a “startup hub” quite yet, and for some industries it might make more sense to start from San Francisco, NYC, or LA. San Antonio is also close to Austin, which is emerging as the hotbed for new startups in TX.

If there are other startups that you would like to connect within the European community – who would they be?

I’m sure there are, but on the top of my head I cannot really say if they’re in the “European community” or not. In general, I’d love to meet people in the delivery, storage, and real estate spaces.

Connect with Jaakko Piipponen:
Phone: (210) 625-7925
Email Jaakko

Austin – David Drake, The Soho Loft & Crowdfunding with Swedish Globetrotter

David and I have many mutual acquaintance since we both lived years in NYC (now I am in Austin, TX) – he is Swedish and I am Finnish. hasEuroCircle team already interviewed Jilliene Helman and Gary Spirerwho are both involved with the crowdfunding circles so adding a Swede to the crowdfunding mix seems appropriate.

Please introduce yourself; tell us a little about where you are from originally and who you are.

My name is David Drake. I was born and raised in Sweden. My grandparents are from Denmark so I spent all the summers in Copenhagen growing up. I was getting B grades in languages. Therefore I got annoyed as a teenager and decided excel in languages. My interests are also in sports. I was a judo champion at a very young age in Scandinavia. There must have been maybe 15 different sports that I used to do. In one time or another. Most likely my short height as a kid made me over Excel and over compensate in sports. However after college I did not return to any sports.

I was a good – and shy – kid in high school. I got good grades and rarely went out. For instance, I always vacuumed the house once a week just to say thank you to my parents.

Given your background what and why did you end up studying – how did you choose your university and why the USA?

I was accepted to Brown University on full scholarships but since it didn’t have business studies I decided to change to American University in DC (these were full scholarships). I had an early on fascination with business and international finance. My MBA was done in DC as well as George Washington University which was a Dual Masters program allowing me to get an MBA in International Finance & a Masters in international affairs and law.

I have also realized that Wall Street was the center of finance and thus I want to study in the US.

So what do you do now – what takes most of your time professionally?

My family office has investments in different industries and companies globally. I helped found two Angel Networks (Puerto Rico and FP Angels) and I’m on two angel networks like Bitcoin and the Chemical Angel Network. However today most of my time is spent on the media company called The Soho Loft. It focuses on social impact investing and we host 200+ finance focus conferences every year. See Www.thesoholoft.com/upcoming-conferences/s where you can meet and pitch investors on the spot.

I am also spending more time with a public relations and Investor Relations firm VictoriaGlobal.co as the chairman of the board. This is where we are looking for partners in Europe and MENA and I would ask readers to reach out to me at david@LDJCapital.com

In addition Victoria Partners is a 110 family office network with headquarters out of Knightsbridge, London that we own.

These things take up about 75 percent of my time while the latter allows me to travel as I have to visit the family office relationships we have globally. I have been in a different city every week for the last 3 years and now it is difficult for me to stop traveling because I like it.

Do you intend to stay in the USA for now and where is your favorite city in the USA?? Also, o you speak many languages in addition to English and Swedish which are related to each other?

Yes, I am staying in the US. We recently got engaged with the state government of Hawaii and Hawaii venture capitalist association. We are engaged with the International Fashion Show and International Film Festival in Hawaii with them so I will be spending more time there. It also makes sense for me to bring Asian investors of ours to meet tech and realty opportunities in Hawaii – we called this where the West meets the East. We are working with the Hawaii Venture Capital Association to launch their biggest event of the year this fall.

Meanwhile I have a place in Los Angeles with offices in New York. Most of my time is spent between Maui, New York, Los Angeles and Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy. The latter is my favorite place of all time.

My grandparents are Danish meanwhile Danish, Swedish and Norwegian are very similar languages. Yet again, I do come across a lot of Danish and Norwegians claiming that a lot of Swedes do not speak their language. Meanwhile in school I studied Spanish French and English. Yet my passion is Italian although I don’t speak it well at all.

So how is your personal life at this point? You travel a lot – how does that work for family? Where are you living right now and why?

I’m divorced the last two years so travel is something I actually enjoy now. As opposed to most people traveling, I can travel on my own accord and spend at least 1 week per trip. For instance, I am speaking at the European Business Angel Network in Dublin and they are flying me in. Ireland is close to my heart as I took my mom there 6 months ago and it is beautiful. This time I’m flying my father from Stockholm to go castle hunting after I speak in Dublin. The green hills of Ireland are just amazing. Yet my favorite places to work and visit are:

Bellagio, Lake Como
Waiheke Island outside Auckland.

What do you like most about the job you do now the most – and what the least? What is a typical day for you right now?

I wake up between 3 to 5 am I do not sleep much. Life is too exciting. Emails and contract negotiation takes about 6 hours a day and another 4 hours of phone calls.

I write regularly for magazine like Forbes and WSJ so I spend a couple hours day writing. Over 100 publications get original articles from me. Www.TimesRealtyNews.com Is the latest investment we made on an online publication focused on real estate and crowd funding.

Last week we published a top 10 realty platform report. Dealing with repetitive tasks bores me but fortunately for me I have been able to build infrastructure in corporations to handle that.

How do you see your life evolve professionally and personally if it is up to you?

Fortunately it is up to me and I love to learn. I spent the last 30 years listening to people sharing their knowledge and I feel now that I’m in my 40′s and I can collect my own stories. My entrepreneuship bug started when I was 9 years old. I was selling cacti door to door that my mom collected for a school trip.

Today I collect people and stories. The knack becomes how to connect people and I feel that I’m a superconnector just like you are. The 100s of people working in my main investments provide me the infrastructure to run a conglomerate media company and the hundreds of events and articles I write allows me to meet and learn from thousands. That is so exciting. I get to interview anyone and learn from the best.

How would you describe your business model to someone who knows nothing about your life ?

I am a family office yet my passion investment The Soho Loft is a global finance media conglomerate focused on impact investors…. the work surrounds sharing and educating the world on how and what is being done in this arena.

What are the biggest risk factors for you professionally?

My reputation and lack of follow up are risk factors. Also having great partners is important so I encourage readers to reach out to me from this article.

How is your family in Sweden – what do your parents and siblings do?

My parents are retired in stockholm and they enjoy traveling with me.

What kind of European companies or entrepreneurs would you like to hook up with?

Currently we are acquiring and also hiring people in public relations and marketing. Area of this time would be of interest to also meeting and talk to new online marketing companies to see what they are doing better and faster.

We have had 600 events the last 4 years in finance and consequently 30,000 people have been attending. Companies that interest me would be firms that can monetize from the lead generation of companies we have had at please your events.

Partners would know how to monetize from relationships with the participants at our events. Here are some upcoming events

Please join me at the June 7, Los Angeles, Family Office event. Learn how to raised money from family offices.

Newport Beach conference June 19
Leading Resources and Real Estate: Oil, Gas, Minerals and Real Estate

I. Nov 14 had $35 billion in assets under mgmt – sold out.
II. April 24 had ADIA, Trump, Mondrian and Delano Hotels with dozens of family office fly in – sold out.

You must buy the 100+ page Mega Trend report by TimesRealtyNews.com report when you are serious about real estate crowd funding. It will save you 150 hours of due diligence and research. The only report of its kind.

June 26 Yale Club in NYC Series B and C private equity investors event


What do you consider the worst thing about the Swedes compared to the USA – and vice versa?

I have been away for the last 25 years. However what I see is that the Swedes avoid confrontation. Whether that is good or bad remains to be argued. However I do not ail from this. Meanwhile I find myself being a quiet spoken American or loud European – depending where I am and who is listening

Crowdfunding – what do you think about it in Europe vs. USA?

it is a powerful on both continents but more so in the US. I track the laws changing by country and continent. These are things I write about. In 2012 I was part of arranging the first meeting me ever had with the SEC on crowdfunding for the crowd funding association that I help found. I was invited to the Champions of Change at the White House on the topic and represented the US commerce dept to EU on small and medium size business policy to rome and Brussels.

I would love to talk to medium size companies in your Europe looking to use crowd funding as a solution and lead generation through our publications and conferences globally.

We get family offices and private equity firms reaching out to us constantly and we’re also talking to investment banks.

If you have a choice to live your life how you want, money would not be an issue what so ever – where would you like to spend your life? Where do you think you would like to be in 10 years and why?

I am living it now and it is between Bellagio, new york, los angeles and Maui right now. Family office business makes me travel all over the world in addition to these cities. In 10 years I would like to continue to doing today- learning from people smarter that me and having dozens of more partners in Europe as brand ambassadors of VictoriaGlobal.co

Crowdfunding circles are full of people who have never worked in finance, raised money for themselves or others and they portray themselves as so called “experts” and speak at multiple events. The new crowdfunding “opportunities” have brought out many predators who appear “real” on the surface. How do you think that fact may affect any future legislation?

It should help industry by showing at all more people getting involved in this space. The transparency in crowd funding is beautiful because you will be able to weed out who is real and who is not. The crowd self police and we see this in the platforms operating on both continents.
(Kaisa: I am not at all convinced about self policing efficiency in the USA having looked at some – certainly not all – of the so called “experts” and listening to some of them speak. Culturally (Finland) I have an issue with people either making up their their credentials/background, success or misleading the “crowd” – but let’s hope the crowd will “self-police” more and more.)

Connect with David Drake:
Chairman – www.LDJCapital.com
O: 212.845.9652
C: 917.578.9069
Skype: ddrakevnd

The Voice of Capital Formation


Los Angeles – Sep 03 2014

Join us for our next EuroCircle event on Wednesday September 3rd from 6:30PM at Smith Tap House starting and don t forget to RSVP.

Tanya and Ajay

PS: We would love to invite you to join EuroCircle LA team and help us to host and organize EuroCircle events in Los Angeles. You can contact us via the EuroCircle forums (private messages), at the events, FB etc… and during wednesday’s event.