Estonia is known for Skype, but there are so many more cool startups to discover in this tech-savvy country. Estonia is my favourite country in the Baltics, and I have many friends there. The local startup scene is well-described on the #Estonianmafia wall of fame at cool coworking space Garage48, in Tallinn (Update – May 2023: The website seems to be out of use, and we therefore deactivated the original link). TransferWise (facilitating international money transfers) and GrabCAD (a cloud-based platform helping mechanical engineers collaborate) were making headlines in 2014, so there is a lot of exciting activity happening. That said, here are some cool younger companies that are on my radar:
1. Taxify – This taxi app is aiming to help traditional taxi firms and drivers fight back against Uber or Hailo. Taxify claims to offer technology and “marketing power” better than Uber to licensed taxi firms and individual taxi drivers. Taxify outperformed Uber at the big tech conference Slush in Helsinki in December 2014 (Update – May 2023: The website seems to be out of use, and we therefore deactivated the original link). The company raised seed €1.4 million in funding in late 2014, which it plans to use to gain leading position in Eastern Europe, and prepare for further European expansion.
2. GoWorkABit – This startup offers a new way to hire and get hired. The service connects people who want to choose when and for whom they work with companies who have an urgent need for extra staff. GoWorkABit can help when clients need a replacement very quickly. The Tallinn-based firm offers “workbites” up to 140 hours to companes for free. They’re currently active only in Estonia and Finland, but their list of clients is impressive.
3. Lingvist – Learn a language in 200 hours! This startup currently ranked high in poll among Estonian leading VC, angels, IT pros. There are many online language tools but Lingvist, developed by a team whose backgrounds from CERN to building Skype, might be different and more fun. What’s the secret sauce to reaching a B2 level in just 200 hours? “Everyone is different. You will be good at different things, needing practice in different areas. But consistency is the most important key to fast language learning!” says the team.
4. Buildit – There are a few good projects right now in the Tartu-based Buildit, an accelerator for new global success stories in hardware. One of their startups, Mustino, creates jewellery that lets you hold hands with your love – no matter how far you are apart. One for you and one for the one you love. Close it in your hand when you miss your better half. When you close your Mustino in your hand the other mustino lights up instantly … cute and romantic! (Update – May 2023: The website seems to be out of use, and we therefore deactivated the original link).
5. Jobbatical is another Estonian startup disrupting online recruitment. The company offers a marketplace for ‘short-term jobs with life-changing experiences’, matching those who wish to take a work sabbatical with employers seeking potentially short-term but skilled hires. The founders say that three of four of professionals dream of taking this type of career break and that nearly two thirds are planning to do so. The firm recently closed a €260K seed round led by Estonian VC SmartCap, along with angel investors Joakim Karske, Christopher Sier, Janis Rancans.
By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out the Startup Sourcing Service of EU-Startups.com!