Estonians have made the country’s relatively small size their biggest strength by realising that in order to build impactful global companies here, one must think about going global from day one. Understanding this came immediately after Estonia restored its independence 31 years ago. As the local market was too small to succeed, Estonian enterprises started targeting global markets.
According to Martin Villig, co-founder of Estonian fourth unicorn Bolt, Estonian tech firms are more focused on competing in the global market than against each other at home. “That is probably the biggest difference compared to Germany, France, US, where you can build a massive company in your home market, and you don’t need to go abroad. In our case, almost no one is competing,” Villig noted in his interview for TechRadar Pro.
Estonia leads Europe in startups and unicorns per capita
Estonia, having just half the population of Silicon Valley, has been highly successful in founding startups solving global issues and building tech unicorns. So far, Estonia has been the birthplace of at least 1,459 startups and 10 unicorns: Skype in 2005, Playtech in 2007, Wise in 2015, Bolt in 2018, Pipedrive in 2020, Zego, ID.me and Gelato in 2021, Veriff and Glia in 2022. That’s 7.7 unicorns per million people. And it makes Estonia the leader in unicorns per capita in Europe. According to the 2020 report by Atomico, Estonia is playing a major role in building $1B+ companies.
The number of founded startups per million capita shows that Estonia remains one of the most vivid startup hubs in Europe, having 7.6 times as many startups per capita as the European average.
Most likely, the reason behind Estonia’s success is the agile mindset put into use when solving problems and innovating.
“Instead of waiting for solutions to come to us, we should offer them,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said at Tallinn Digital Summit 2022. “That’s how we operate in Estonia,” she stated.
Estonia leads Europe in investments per capita
You can be agile in innovating and creating startups, but to make an impact, you have to succeed. Estonia’s world-class track record in building unicorns, shared unicorn-building experiences in the startup community, and large base of new business ideas attract venture capital investors worldwide.
According to Dealroom’s latest report European VC Pulse Check H1 2022, with $750+ M venture capital raised in the first half of 2022, Estonia remains the European leader in VC investments per capita.
The Dealroom report highlights that some of Europe’s smaller VC ecosystems, such as Estonia, have been the fastest growing in 2022. In a year-on-year comparison, Estonia’s VC investments have doubled, making Estonia the second fastest growing country in Europe, following Austria.
Sure, per capita, Estonia always wins. If you want to join the club and invest in the Estonian soon-to-be unicorns, fill out our e-Consulting form and get started with great advice from one of our investment advisors! And Estonian companies needing foreign investment, feel free to contact us here.