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Minister Sutt at Slush: 25 unicorns in Estonia by 2025 would be brilliant

“25 by ’25 would be brilliant. If we do more – even greater!” Estonia’s Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt said at this year’s biggest venture capital gathering Slush, referring to the past and expected future growth pace of Estonian tech companies, already now placing Estonia at Europe’s top in number of unicorns per capita.

So far, Estonia has been the birthplace of seven unicorns: Skype in 2005, Playtech in 2007, Wise in 2015, Bolt in 2018, Pipedrive in 2020, Zego and in 2021. That’s 5.3 unicorns per every million people – or more than anywhere else in Europe – and probably the world.

What is the secret of creating unicorns?

What is the secret of breeding all those unicorns? Minister Sutt has probably answered the question hundreds of times, already. And as an IT minister of the world’s leading e-country, he knows the answer. „When we talk about what attracts people or what attracts talent, the number one feature is the quality of life,“ Sutt suggested – seeing the issue of creating successful startups primarily as a question of attracting talent.

At the same time, according to Minister Sutt, the ease of doing business that Estonia offers, is as important: „You come, you develop, you grow – there has to be a clear reason why we have seven unicorns born out of Estonia.“

There is also the fact that success creates new success. As Minister Sutt puts it, referring to Estonia’s first ever unicorn, Skype: „Skype was the startup of startups. This is something that I now can say, with the benefit of hindsight: you need a certain critical mass. But in order to achieve it, you need to get the first ball rolling. And Skype gave an opportunity for the founders to re-invest in the new startups, to create a culture of startups, giving young people a confidence that you can actually conquer the world from Estonia.“

Estonia is pulling in the money

Recently, both Sifted and Crunchbase have written about how successfully Estonia manages investments.

“Estonia is pulling in the money,” writes Sifted, summarising the recent VC investment report by Atomico that stresses the fact that Estonia has raised the highest number of investments per capita out of any countries in Europe.

This means that Estonia isn’t only mastering the building of unicorns and startups, but raising money as well. “Estonia, one of the smallest countries in the region, leads the whole of Europe when it comes to VC investments per capita as well as startup creation — €1,967 per capita raised and one startup per 1,048 people — which won’t come as a surprise to many readers,” writes Sifted.

This year’s Slush tech conference had 8,800 attendees, among them 1,700 investors present, representing close to $1 trillion in assets under management in total, making it the largest gathering of venture capital in the world this year and one of the biggest VC events ever, anywhere.

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