Valkee (alias HumanCharger) has had a single foreign investor since 2013: Merieux Developpement, which financed the earlight company together with Lifeline Ventures and the finnish tax payer. As the co-lead investor, Merieux Dev. had its partner Valerie Calenda on Valkee’s board. Until now.
According to the trade register, Calenda has resigned from the board recently. Merieux Equity Partners, which holds the active investments of Merieux Dev., no longer lists Valkee on its portfolio pages. From the french investor’s “regional partners” category disappeared Seppo Mäkinen, former Sitra director, and probably the person who lured Merieux Dev. into this adventure.
There is no explanation other than Merieux has backed off and written down its multi-million loss. Now Valkee’s HumanCharger operations are completely controlled by its own folks: the CEO Aki Backman, the inventor Juuso Nissilä, and Timo Ahopelto.
The struggling company had high expectations for their follow-up product to the old LED headset: The HumanCharger Wireless Headset, an ugly and hard-to-wear bluetooth device. It launched an Indiegogo campaign, which looks like a complete desaster already.
Featured prominently at reddit/shittykickstarters, people aren’t buying it for half the price.
One backer has left a positive comment, looks like here’s really an impressed user.
It’s Timo Ahopelto, the company’s chairman, who felt the urgent need to push his product. Probably it won’t help.
Finnish Valkee Ltd, maker of the questionable HumanCharger earlight device, has just filed its 2018-2019 balance. It’s the same as every year: Overwhelming loss and now again a sharp drop in revenue.
And as every year, earlightswindle.com makes it available.
Valkee balance 2/2019 (valkee2019.pdf)
Turnover has fallen by 34%, thus eliminating last years somewhat surprising rise. It’s now 637.000€, i.e. even less than in 2016/17. The effect of the US launch seems to level out. Good news for them: Loss is down to 594.000 Euro. But this means, that still every Euro turnover results in one Euro loss – as last year.
HR costs are down from 411.000 to 268.000€, and with (only) 226.000€ paid out, the question is who’s still employed by this company – besides its CEO and some salespersons.
Valkee is struggling to survive, as it did since 2007 – and now it became clear, how the project is “scaling”. It will exist as long as its investors are willing to pay. The plug may be pulled sooner or later.
That’s an enduring embarassment also for Interbrand, which really messed up by calling HumanCharger a “breakthrough brand” in 2017. The only thing that will break here will be the investors’ patience.
Over & out, as I leave this rather boring news piece to the snail media, Kauppalehti, HelsinginSanomat or whatever, for those laties who have not cancelled subscriptions yet.
Update 13.7.2019: Kauppalehti did as expected and translated this into finnish as “news”. Always welcome on my blog.