As Estonia is a world leader in producing unicorns per capita, having 7 unicorns, 3 of which have reached the unicorn valuation in the last year, there is nothing to wonder that Estonian tech startups feel a kind of pressure to join the country’s famous unicorn line. (Read more about Estonia’s Unicorn Factory here). Still, one promising startup, Comodule, wants to leave the hype behind and stand out not as a unicorn, but as a tech company with a turnover of one billion euros.
The story of Comodule started about nine years ago and it feels like it’s taken out of a drama, according to Life in Estonia magazine. The team had an idea for a totally different thing at first. They were able to raise some money from an investment fund, literally burned all of it and then started from scratch with a totally different idea and no money. Now they are expecting 25 million euros of revenue in 2022 and have a clear plan to reach a revenue of 1 billion euros within next 10 years.
“Our goal is not a billion-euro valuation, but a minimum of a billion-euro revenue,” Kristjan Maruste, CEO and co-founder of Comodule stated at the Unicorn59 event this summer.
“Valuation often is just a hype,” Maruste said. “It’s just a belief, that you will be very big or do something really big. Revenue, on the other hand, is very impact.” And Maruste believes that it is the revenue that measures Comodule’s impact on empowering emissionless transport.
“We enable the whole industry to move into the 21st century,” Maruste noted. “It’s not really about hardware, it’s about delivering connectivity as a service,” he pointed out, adding that Comodule’s main job is to take care that everything works in a robust and guaranteed way.
Comodule has connected 400,000 vehicles around the world. Up next, it’s about creating a full tech platform for light electric vehicles. Moving from internet of things only into battery technology, motor control, data infrastructure, but also software and services. Their most recent product, launched in May, is an insurance service.
To Berlin and back to Estonia
Six months after the restart, the team decided to go all in and take part in an accelerator program, which would let them grow the idea rapidly. They were faced with the option to go to China, Germany or stay in Estonia. They chose Berlin because they saw that the Germans were thinking about mobility.
After visiting fairs full of small electric vehicles they knew what their field would be. They wanted to connect electric bicycles to the internet. The market was doubling each year, so the market potential was really high. Three out of the five founders went to Berlin with the initial thought of staying there for a longer period of time.
Maruste himself was in Berlin for a year. One team member stayed for eight months and another for a year and a half. „The reason we chose Berlin is that we wanted to be closer to our clients and understand the market. During that time, we saw Germany as the most important market in the world,“ Maruste said.
Today, the company is back in Estonia, having its production line in Tallinn. According to Maruste, owning a production in Estonia is not only super valuable, but offers a better opportunities to navigate in the current microchip crisis, for excample, and gives a lot of flexibility towards customers.
Maruste hopes that more and more international companies see the benefits of operating a business from Estonia and move their headquarters here. He hopes that the government sees this as the next opportunity to grow Estonia even bigger. Having first-hand experience of how to run a company in Germany, he says that it’s 100% true that, from the business administration and bureaucratic side, Estonia is the right place to be.
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