With close to 1,000 startups, Estonian startup scene is buzzing louder than ever. The sector keeps on growing 30% annually, being the fastest growing branch of Estonian economy. Already today, Estonian startups contribute 2.5% of Estonia’s GDP.
According to LIFT99, the jury of Estonian Startup Awards has selected last year’s most outstanding startups in 9 categories, and the nominees and winners are here:
Founder of the Year 2019: Kaarel Kotkas
Kaarel Kotkas founded Veriff in 2015 at the age of 20. He had discovered, how easy it was to pretend to be someone else online, and he came up with a solution that would stop identity fraud. Now he is running Veriff, that provides an online verification service that can verify clients in 35 different languages. 99% of their revenue comes from clients outside of Estonia. Last year, their revenue increased almost 7x, and their team grew 5x, from 64 to 307. At the end of 2019, Veriff opened its first overseas office in New York, USA, and launched a self-service platform called Veriff Station for SMEs.
Kaarel Kotkas is depicted on the cover photo of the article, sending a video greeting to the Startup Awards event from San Francisco.
Other nominees for the Founder of the Year 2019 were: Kaidi Ruusalepp, founder of Funderbeam; Kadri Haljas, founder of Triumf Health; Kaspar Korjus, founder of Pactum; Kristjan Maruste, founder of Comodule; Markus Villig, founder of Bolt; Martin Vares, founder of Fractory; Norris Koppel, founder of Monese; Sten Saar, founder of Zego; Taavi Tamkivi, founder of Salv.
The Hardware Comet of 2019: Comodule
Comodule offers an IoT solution for light electric vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators. In 2019, they built and launched their very own electronics factory capable of producing up to 60,000 telematics hardware units a month. They also built an electric kick-scooter prototype that will be the most durable and advanced vehicle on the market. Profitable stage with 4.5x revenue growth last year. Comodule has connected over 150,000 light electric vehicles worldwide – among them are over 100,000 sharing kick-scooters (1/3 of all the sharing kick-scooters in the world). In the last 2 years, the company has grown from 18 to 60 team members.
As the 2019 was the year of hardware – new factories opened, funds were raised, products broke records, let’s name the other nominees of Hardwere Comet award to keep an eye on in 2020: Ampler Bikes, Bikeep, Cleveron, Hepta Airbrone, Lumebot, roofit.solar, and Starship Technologies.
The Revenue Hack of 2019: Comodule
Comodule won in Revenue Hack category as well. Congratulations! However, it is definitely worth watching all the nominees, as most of the startups nominated in this category grew their revenue 5x last year, some even more. The other nominees were: 1oT.mobi, Bolt, CarGet, eAgronom, Fractory, Monese, Upsteam, Veriff, Wolf3D.
The Wise Wallet of 2019: Gerri Kodres
The investor award “The Wise Wallet of 2019” goes to Gerri Kodres for beeing one of the most active investors in Estonia. Gerri Kodres is former angel investor, who currently leads a VC fund United Angels. He invests annually in 10+ companies. In 2019, Kodres invested in Estonian startups like Supervaisor, Fooddocs, Fractory, Xolo and Gridio.
The other nominees for the wise wallet of 2019 were: Aleksi Partanen, Jaan Tallinn, Madis Müür, Margus Uudam, Riivo Anton, Sten Tamkivi, Taavet Hindrikus, Veljo Otsason, Yrjö Ojasaar.
The Big Bang of 2019: Salv
This category is for startups who launched their product in 2019. And they did it with a bang! The winner is Salv – an anti money laundering (AML) startup founded by former TransferWise and Skype employees. They’ve pivoted twice – from consultancy to a SaaS anti-fraud platform, and then again from anti-fraud to AML. Salv signed first customer deals in 2019 and fundraised $2M. A team of 20.
The Impact Visionary of 2019: Reverse Resources
This startup measures their success by the impact they have in the world and on the future of humanity. May it be in EdTech, GreenTech, MedTech – this startup had a breakthrough in 2019 in a field that really matters, with a visionary solution that solves a real problem.
Reverse Resources is a software platform to map and trace textile leftovers from fabric and garment production. Last year they landed a collaboration with one of the biggest clothing manufacturers in the world (920 factories across 14 countries). Their current capacity is recycling 5000 tons of byproduct into brand new quality thread each month, while 25,000 tons of by-product is pushed each month into their network, just waiting to be recycled! It’s a business opportunity, as well as a potential to change how humanity handles the waste of this massive industry. Team of 8.
The Stereotype Crusher of 2019: Ann Runnel
Ann Runnel, CEO and co-founder of Reverse Resources, has a positive huge impact on the decisions our next generation we making today. In this category, the jury looked for road-pavers leading the way to more equality and inclusiveness, within the sector as well as outside of it.
The other nominees for the Stereotype Crusher of 2019 were: Anna Greta Tsahkna – CEO and co-founder of Timbeter , Hedi Mardisoo – CEO and co-founder of Cachet, Johanna-Mai Riismaa – CEO and co-founder of Zelos, Kadri Haljas – CEO and co-founder of Triumf Health, Kadri Tuisk – CEO and co-founder of Clanbeat, Katrin Liivat & Karin Repp – co-founders of FoodDocs, Mari Joller – CEO and co-founder of Snackable, Meeri Rebane – CEO and co-founder of INZMO, Terje Ennomäe – CEO and co-founder of Feelingstream.
The Bootstrap Badger of 2019: Multilogin
In this category is founded to praise the creativity, courage and teamwork a startup needs to survive bootstrapping mode – a startup that has raised under $200k, yet really stood out from the rest.
The winner, Multilogin is a solution designed for online marketing professionals to conveniently manage multiple online accounts, replacing multiple computers with virtual browser profiles. Founded in 2015, the company has been fully bootstrapped ever since. 372% Year-on-Year growth. Serves 2600 customers from 79 countries. Last year, team grew from 10 to 32.
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