In Estonia, it’s starting to feel like startups reaching unicorn status is the norm.
Statistically speaking, and on a global scale, this simply isn’t true — it’s said that a startup only has a 0.00006% chance of crossing the magical billion-dollar valuation threshold.
And yet there are ten unicorns for Estonia’s population of 1.3 million. Clearly, Estonians never like to be told the odds are against them — they will only take this as a challenge.
Case in point: In the first months of 2022, two new unicorns, Veriff and Glia, have already joined the herd, bolstering Estonia’s lead over the rest of Europe in startups, unicorns, and VC investments per capita. At this rate, the 11th unicorn is just around the corner. The excitement is palpable.
It’s no wonder, then, that unicorn-spotting has become the country’s national pastime — and everyone’s welcome to participate. The best time to join in will be on April 20 at Unicorn59, an online event ahead of Estonia’s flagship startup conference Latitude59.
Unicorn 59 will feature a fireside chat with startup community leaders and a showcase of up-and-coming Estonian startups pitching their world-changing visions.
Opening words will be by none other than Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas herself, and your guides on this year’s unicorn safari will be quite possibly the best two people for the job:
Carlos Paniagua, CTO and co-founder of Estonia’s freshest unicorn Glia and 2021’s foreign founder of the year, and Kaidi Ruusalepp, CEO and founder of the soon-to-be unicorn Funderbeam and President of the Estonian Founders Society.
In their chat, Carlos and Kaidi will take a deep dive into the Estonian tech and startup community.
The scene is set, the fire is lit, and the question on everyone’s minds is:
How can Estonia create the most sustainable and inclusive startup ecosystem in the world?
The startup community in Estonia has been developing at breakneck speed from monochrome to inclusive — be it in terms of age, gender, origin, or sector. Impact and sustainability are trending, with startups cropping up left and right to make the world better. But there is no time to rest on laurels or take any of the success for granted.
“We are already one of the top startup ecosystems in the world,” says Kaidi Ruusalepp in the lead-up to Unicorn59. “It is very easy to employ global talents by Estonian startups, set up a company in 25 minutes, pay all taxes online within minutes, and belong to the Estonian Founders Society to get access to Estonian founders’ know-how and network. But we all know that the devil is in the details. And we need to be the best even in those details.”
Carlos Paniagua believes that funnelling more resources into high-level tech education and training is key to fuelling the sustainable growth of Estonia’s startup ecosystem. “This requires a lot of cooperation from the government and the community,” he says.
Another critical aspect of shaping the ecosystem in a way that gives rise to truly impactful innovation is taking a close look at how and who comes up with new technologies and ideas, Carlos points out. “Being more inclusive in terms of gender, cultures, countries, and disciplines in how we build teams to solve problems can have a big impact on the type of solutions we will come up with to the problems we face as a human race. That means providing the resources and opportunities way earlier in life for those who can have the next breakthrough in sustainability.”
Where is the next breakthrough coming from?
Estonian Minister of IT Andres Sutt has laid out a vision for Estonia to have 25 unicorns by 2025. There is certainly no shortage of companies with unicorn potential. Seven of them will get on stage at Unicorn59 to show the world how they’re turning our planet into a more sustainable and inclusive habitat:
- Clanbeat, equipping educators with the tools needed to tackle today’s toughest classroom challenges
- Single.Earth, the world’s first currency backed by natural assets
- Woola, packaging made of leftover sheep wool to reduce plastic waste
- Fyma, the only self-setup computer vision AI platform in the world
- Grünfin, a sustainable, values-driven investment portfolio
- AuveTech, self-driving vehicles and autonomous transportation systems
- Yanu, a fully autonomous AI- and robot-empowered bartending unit
See the full agenda here and register for Unicorn59 on Hopin here to get access to a secret list of potential baby unicorns: Estonian startups looking for funding. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and be part of the next big startup success story, our complimentary e-Consulting service will guide you through investing in Estonia’s future unicorns.