What happened in the Estonian startup scene in 2015?
A Record Amount of Investment
Never before have Estonian startup companies raised as much investment as in 2015. The total amount, 94 million euros, was one third bigger than that of 2014 (71 million) which was the highest this far, the business daily Äripäev writes. The 94 million includes investments into TransferWise (49 million), Skeleton Technologies (9.8 million), Pipedrive (7.8 million), Lingvist (7.4 million), and ZeroTurnaround (4.5 million).
TransferWise Becoming a Real Unicorn
The 49-million euro investment into TransferWise was led by US venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz. It is this far the biggest amount of money ever invested into an Estonian startup. The number of jobs at TransferWise has risen from about 200 to more than 450 with new offices opened in New York and Tampa.
According to Taavet Hindrikus, the CEO and co-founder of TransferWise, the keyword for TransferWise in 2015 was going global, with services started in the USA and Australia. In 2016 there will be more focus on Asia. The office in Tallinn will still retain its importance, Hindrikus promises. Just before Christmas 2015 TransferWise announced that it will be cooperating with banks. The first bank to offer its international transfers using TransferWise’s services in its mobile app, is Estonian LHV.
Also read what Kristo Käärmann, Executive Founder of TransferWise, told Life in Estonia about TransferWise becoming a unicorn.
New, Surprising Ideas
There were many newcomers in the Estonian startup world in 2015. Here are just a few examples named by Äripäev: The surprising stealth startup Starship Technologies, revealed this Autumn, is working on a delivery robot that should revolutionize the delivery of goods. Japanese startup with an Estonian head of technology, Ozon, is working on a smart ring, a ring with Bluetooth connectivity, ability to control infrared-controlled devices, etc. EdFox is a company reinventing the textbook, claiming that for today’s world printed study materials are not renewed often enough and will soon be replaced. It is of course possible to add tens of other startups to this list.
Everything comes to an end at one time. One of 2014’s biggest news was the sale of GrabCAD by its founder Hardi Meybaum who was also named the businessman of the year. In 2015 the virtual fitting room solution Fits.me was sold to Japanese giant Rakuten for an undisclosed price (read more here). Mobile billing and payment platform for parking NOW! Innovations created in Estonia was sold to the international parking solutions company Infra Park based in France.
First Government Startup e-Residency Celebrating Its First Birthday
Estonian e-Residency can be considered the first government startup in the world. More than one year has passed since British journalist Edward Lucas became the world’s first e-resident and the Estonian e-Residency program was officially launched. Non-Estonians around the world were invited to join the program and take advantage of Estonia’s convenient e-services. As of today more than 7,200 people from 121 countries have joined and Estonian e-residents have established more than 240 new companies. More than 530 entrepreneurs use e-Residency to administer their businesses.
The e-Residency program director Kaspar Korjus added that at times during the last year the applications of would-be e-residents exceeded Estonia’s ability to process them. According to Korjus the program is still in beta and the team is thankful for all the feedback that early adopters of e-Residency have offered.
The Event of the Year - Latitude59
Latitude59 tech conference was held for the 8th time in 2015 and we are proud to say it has developed into a great platform for innovators and startup entrepreneurs to meet investors and potential partners. The event took place in an old energy plant building and the key topics covered e-Residency, Fintech and Hardware Evolution. Latitude59 amazing line up included Mate Rimac (Rimac Automobili), Kristo Käärmann (Transferwise), Jeff Burton (founding member at Electronics Arts), David Traub (Epiphany Film Fund) and many others. Mate Rimac’s keynote on doing the impossible and starting a super car company out of Balkans received an incredible standing ovation!
Year 2015: A Successful Year for Estonian Startups