Latvia is one of the three jewels on the Baltic startup crown. Previously somewhat overlooked, its tight-knit entrepreneurial community has been hustling to build up their own startup paradise, always thinking global and getting ready for their international launch. Organisations like Startup Latvia, the Latvian Startup Association and Labs of Latvia have been bringing together its small community, helping each other out and celebrating success stories.
And it’s working – over 2000 international startup players flock to Riga every year for the TechChill conference, ready to meet the Baltic’s brightest undiscovered stars, enjoy the low cost of living and take advantage of the government’s Welcome Pack. It’s no surprise then that Latvia is often chosen as the launchpad into Europe from the East, boasting Riga International Airport, the largest landing strip in the Baltics, and the Startup Latvia Visa, which grants access to the European freedoms of movement.
We’ve scouted the horizon for the most promising startups in Latvia, taking into consideration many factors like founding year, funding, team growth rate, innovation, competition and many, many more. With this in mind, here are 10 top Latvian startups to keep watching in 2020 and beyond.
Mintos – Mintos, founded in 2015, is a global online marketplace for investing in loans. It’s aim is to make investing accessible, easy and transparent. Users can connect with loans from international and Mintos-authenticated alternative lending companies. Today, via its platform more than 250,000 investors have funded in total almost €5 billion worth of loans and earned more than €80 million in interest. Mintos employs 200 people across its offices in Riga, Berlin, Warsaw, and Vilnius, and has raised a total of €7 million in funding.
Jeff App – Jeff, founded in 2019, has already hit the news as the ‘tinder for loans’. Jeff is a personalised matchmaker for people and loans, using elements of chatbot and personalisation to help people find the best loans on the market. Its underlying mission is to boost financial inclusion, by helping those in Southeast Asia get on the systems. By connecting other data like eCommerce, geolocation, alternative payment methods to the app, users can receive loan offers. The startup landed €150K this January 2020, has been recognised in Forbes USA print, won Seedstars national and regional finals, and is already on track to expand its customer-based from Vietnam to Indonesia.
Kora – Kora, founded in 2019, rewards people and companies for performing a wide range of sustainable activities, in order to fight climate change. It’s mission is to be a financial tool that will give humanity that little extra push into sustainable behavior, globally. Using tracking technology, Kora’s app can see if users are taking part in eco urban mobility behaviours, such as walking, biking, electric public transport, and trains. The team recently raised €800K, with backed by lead investor, Tom Preston-Werner, GitHub Co-Founder and Ex-CEO.
Marine Digital – Marine Digital, founded just last year in 2019, aims to digitalise ports and to speed up mass automation processes in logistics. Its platform helps to automate cargo acceptance and handing, as well as exchange data with the supply chain participants. Marine Digital’s Russian founders left their home country to set up the startup in Europe, settling in Riga, Latvia, thanks to the Startup Visa mentioned in the introduction above, as well as having an additional office in the Netherlands. In March 2019, the startup closed €100K funding from angel investor Ivan Laden.
Lokalise – Lokalise, founded in 2016, is a translation and localisation management system, which helps companies to translate changing content on their website, mobile apps and games. Its software gives developers the tools to eliminate the hassle of localization, including powerful APIs, CLI tool, mobile SDKs, and comprehensive documentation. Basec in Riga, its team of over 20 people raised over €50K seed funding in 2017, which it has been using to develop and perfect its accessible product.
Gamechanger Audio – Gamechanger Audio, founded in 2015, makes unique effects pedals for musicians. The startup was founded by a group of 4 friends, who were passionate about the tech behind high quality music. In 2017, they launched their first product, Plus Pedal (which layers sounds and offers a sustain effect for guitar players), followed in 2019 by their second product Plasma Pedal (which uses high voltage electrical discharge to make a unique noise distortion), followed by Motor Synth (the world’s first electro-mechanical desktop synthesizer). Its team of 19 people crowdfunded twice on their website, raising around €350K to fund their product development.
Asya – Asya, founded in 2019, is an app for mindful conversation powered by Ethical AI. The startup, which also has an office in Manchester, UK, seeks to help with the drop in attention span and communication skills of people in the modern smartphone era. How does it work? The Asya app listens to the user’s voice in conversations with others, and provides real-time feedback on the conversation’s quality. You don’t need to worry though, all data is anonymous and protected for your peace of mind. In 2019, the startup team raised pre-seed funding of €120K led by Change Ventures, to help us use boost our social and conversationalist awareness.
Nordigen – Nordigen, founded in 2016, is helping banks and lenders improve the speed and accuracy of their credit decisions. Its all-in-one dashboard extracts actionable insights directly from raw account data. Working with 50+ global banks and lenders, the startup already operates across 13 countries. The startup has raised a number of seed rounds, with its last funding of €730K being finalised in 2018. Last year, they made it as one of the top 3 Mastercard Lighthouse Finalists at Slush, opened a new office and launched a new version of their platform.
Vialet – Vailet, founded in 2017, is a convenient financial management tool. Forget trips to your branch in person, with Vialet, you can get your own VIALET Mastercard, open an account, transfer funds, and manage your finances anytime and anywhere. The startup offers a number of benefits, such as sending money abroad in Europe for free, a 3-minute account opening time, free money transfer abroad, among others.
Atlas Dynamics UAVs – Atlas Dynamics, founded in 2015, is on a mission to disrupt the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) sphere. Its award-winning aerodynamic design generates lift and enables increased endurance, speed, weather resistance and can reach a range of 10km with HD streams of various payloads. Its Israeli-led team has offices in Riga, Dublin and the US, and raised a sum of €7.3 million in 2017 which it has been investing in its superior design. Its vehicles are already used by dominant defense, security, and infrastructure institutions in the U.S., the E.U., and Asia, including emergency search and rescue teams.
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