“These are some of the companies showing how innovative and high-quality startups are being developed in Estonia. On a per-capita basis, Estonia is one of the leaders in Europe when it comes to entrepreneurial countries for tech startups,” says Lighthouse FINITIV Program Manager Lana Brandorne.
Estonia is a cashless society with over 99% of financial transactions occurring digitally. Electronic ID and blockchain are widely used in FinTech applications. 80+ FinTechs ranging from innovative startups such as Estonian unicorn Wise to blockchain leader Guardtime make Estonia a global centre of excellence for FinTech.
The most recent Estonian company winning the FINITIV program was DeepTech startup Single.Earth. The CEO and co-founder Merit Valdsalu saw it as a fantastic opportunity to make her nature-backed MERIT tokens available to a wider audience, for retail and commerce, and to design the product with the world’s leading FinTech innovators.
Estonia’s FinTech startup Fairown Finance confirms that taking part in the program, run by the second largest payment network in the world, is a powerful supporter and door-opener for them as they grow.
Created for FinTech and Impact Tech startups
The Mastercard Lighthouse program’s format contains investor matchmaking, showcase events, media exposure, and three workshops in which startups meet with banks and specific advisors that can help their respective businesses, depending on the company, with no further time commitments.
Mastercard Lighthouse has two partnership programs for Nordic and Baltic startups – MASSIV and FINITIV.
Lighthouse MASSIV has the goal to improve the lives of one billion people by 2025 by helping Impact Tech startups scale globally. The free program supports startups by connecting them to Mastercard, advisors, experts and investors who can help them pursue global partnerships.
Lighthouse FINITIV has the mission of strengthening the entire financial services ecosystem. It is a free program designed to catalyse symbiotic partnerships between promising FinTechs, Mastercard, and leading Nordic and Baltic banks. Estonia is one of their markets. Every 18 months, Lighthouse focuses on finding FinTech companies specifically from Estonia.
Test, pivot, sell!
Salv, Estonia’s FinTech company solving financial crimes, tested out its initial prototype during the program and completely transformed its product. Going into the program, Salv was a B2B product at its core, after working with some of the experts in the workshops, they pivoted to a user-friendly AML platform.
Thanks to Mastercard Lighthouse, Salv managed to sign a contract with Swedbank and SEB for proof of concept and agreed to start testing their prototype. Shortly after, two more banks joined their pilot program.
Companies selected to the platform undertake a three-month program that provides mentorship and guidance focusing on the development of FinTechs and social impact technology companies to help them scale. Apart from the startups themselves, Mastercard representatives and banks participate in the workshops.
The program usually accepts companies that are established, preferably have some revenue, funding raised, full-time employees, and who are truly ready to scale and partner with larger organisations. Mastercard Lighthouse is ideal for startups after they have been taking part in accelerator programs and are ready for the scaling stage.
“We do make exceptions though when your solution is very promising, impactful and/or you can run potential pilots already,” states Lighthouse MASSIV Program Manager Eleonore Hinlopen about the admission of early-stage startups.
Mastercard Lighthouse programs have one distinguishable difference compared to accelerator programs – they are a partnership platform and don’t take equity or a participation fee. Hinlopen promises there is no catch to it and affirms that it aims to support founders in a sincere way.
“That’s why we make the programs as effective for them as possible. Many of the startups that are ready to scale are very busy in that growth phase. In addition to three workshops, we organise matchmaking with investors and live showcase events. After the program, the startups are developing further based on all inputs they got from the program – and they are free to move on with their startup journeys,” Hinlopen describes.