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Axinom: How Estonian-developed technology has reached US aircraft and Russian trains

Axinom, a company developing entertainment systems for aircraft and software solutions for large media companies across the globe, has about 2/3 of its 150 employees in Estonia.

Axinom Eesti’s CEO Oleg Knut told business daily Ärileht that the company started to look for a place to set up its office in another country, Estonia was chosen mostly because of its reputation as an IT country.

Axinom expanded to Estonia quite quickly after it was founded. Why was Estonia chosen?

I was not with the company then, I joined in 2008. The company was founded by three Germans who are still with it. It was already difficult for them to find developers in Germany. Someone had read in a newspaper about Estonia as a strong IT country. A decision was made to found an office here.
It could have been another country. The founders had no specific connection to Estonia. On the one hand it was quite random but on the other, they would not have chosen a country not connected to IT. Estonia was very attractive. They came here, looked into it, found a CEO and started the company.

What is Axinom’s recipe for success?

Hard work. In this field you cannot work like that that you have an advertisement in a newspaper or a magazine and people come. Nobody will come. I can bring an example. It was 2010 when I went to a business fair in the USA. We did not have our own stand, I walked around and tried to talk to the companies, offering our services. These events are where companies who offer entertainment systems development services for the airlines, meet. The aim was for service providers to meet airlines. Our clients are service providers. We wanted to talk to them but they wished to talk to airlines instead.
I knocked on every stand and said that we have this and that and we can do those things. We did not receive any contacts. Even those who talked to me, never replied to any of my e-mails. It was a failure.
We did not leave the things like that. We kept talking to people. And we were lucky to hire a strong salesperson. The salesperson was from a completely different field but the same companies were interested in our services as well. The introductions made were how the things got going.
Which airlines are using your solutions in their aircraft?
To start on the ground, there is a very interesting solution for the Russian railways. For our client ESPN we created a media solution that has been installed on all the intercity trains between St Petersburg and Moscow.

And which airlines?

One of our clients is Zodiac Inflight Innovations that has more than 20 airlines as clients. We are their content management partners. One of the closest ones to Estonia is the Russian airline S7. There is also an airline from Azerbaijan, Portugal’s TAP Air, etc.

We are not after a list of airlines. But one of our clients is working with Delta, United Airlines, American Airlines, etc. In short, this means that in 80 per cent of airlines flying in the United States, their system has been installed.

Which media companies are using your solutions?

Our very good client is the Sky media group covering Germany, Italy and the UK. They offer cable and internet television. We started cooperation with them, creating a client for Xbox for their video streaming platform.
We are one of about ten companies that are certified to produce Xbox apps. We created those for Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. For example, several German TV channels have used our products.

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