Seppo Helava

Seppo Helava

Previously the co-founder, Lead Designer and Studio Manager of Self Aware Games, developer of Big Fish Casino, one of the most successful iOS games of all time. 15+ years of experience developing games, 5+ years as a team lead & entrepreneur.

Oakland, California, United States
Accredited investor
Member since March 04, 2015
  • About
Investor interests
Type of investor Angel
Typical investment size Under $25,000
Typical investments in a year 1
Categories of interest
Locations of interest
Credentials Accredited Investor
1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology , BS , Mechanical Engineering

I am a(n):


Companies I've founded or co-founded:
Self Aware Games
Companies I work or worked for:
Electronic Arts, Maxis, Social Concepts, Factor 5
If you're an entrepreneur or corporate innovator, why?

I want to change the game industry from the inside out. Structurally, it's always been awful. There's a better way.

My favorite startups:

Self Aware Games

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The most rewarding thing is building something new that people love using, and being able to have a dramatic positive impact on the arc of peoples' careers.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

Everything takes longer, and costs more, than you think it will. Building something new isn't something you can plan to the day. You have to work really hard to stay flexible.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

Fair isn't always equal.
People are the most important thing.
It's not "how" you do something. It's "why".

Full bio

The last company Seppo founded is on track to make $300M this year alone. He’s worked on everything from the Sims to hardcore action games, on teams ranging from 2 to 160 people. With his last company, Self Aware Games, he focused primarily on creating a company that made genuinely social games for phones, and focused on putting the team first, working in a way that was sustainable for the long-term.

At Self Aware, he built and ran the team from 2-50+ employees, and from $0 in revenue to over $50M/yr & #1 on the iOS Top Grossing list. The thing he’s most proud of was that the team had nearly zero turnover in five years, and was consistently happy and excited to get to work. He worked hard at developing a company culture that focused on experimentation, long-term sustainability, and taking big leaps forward while managing risk creatively.

He’s an MIT grad, a lifelong gamer, a father of two, and loves making things no one’s ever made before.