In this blog post we’re going to talk about interesting Estonian companies & startups which have seen international success. Not all of them are Estonian companies as they are registered elsewhere, but founded by Estonians, which for the purpose of this article, is sufficient.
Estonia, a small nation of 1,3 million people, has more unicorn startups (valued at more than one billion usd/eur) than Italy. In the whole Baltic States, there is only one other unicorn startup outside of Estonia. There could be several reasons for that, but the main ones for me are probably the early success of Skype and the size of the country, where anything we do is done for international markets.
The list is not all inclusive and it has no other purpose than to inform and entertain.
Skype is a major success story and in my opinion, the reason why Estonia has given birth to so many other techepreneurs in the last decade. Skype wasn’t actually founded by Estonians, but by Danish and Swedish entrepreneurs. The first employees and the programmers were Estonian (founding engineers), however, and they ended up making a lot of money from the exit. Today, Skype-mafia is involved with different projects, and they also invest in startups through a venture capital firm Ambient Sound Investments.
Monese is a UK licensed and registered Fintech (not an Estonian company), but it’s founded by an Estonian entrepreneur named Norris Koppel. Monese is a competitor to TransferWise, another brainchild of Estonian entrepreneurs. Monese is operating in the mobile banking sector, and has grown massively in the last 5 years since the inception. They’re available for people living in the EEA, and new markets will be added in the next years.
AskRobin is a financial services marketplace operating in Latin America. They recently raised additional capital to continue expanding their reach and increase the market share in countries such as Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico. They’re serving the underbanked people in the region and solving a real big problem. With 1,1 million unique customer accounts and almost 100 lenders, the platform has issued over €26 million credit in two years.
Pipedrive is a sales CRM and pipeline manager. It’s an Estonian company that has been operating for quite a while, and their biggest market is in the US. More than 90 000 companies use Pipedrive, they employ 600+ people and are known players in their industry (many popular apps have Pipedrive integrations).
Bolt provides a similar service as Uber, i.e it’s a ride-sharing app. The last valuation was at 1,7b €, and they were going through some tough times when the coronavirus hit. Bolt is very popular in Eastern Europe, where it’s always been more poplar than Uber. They also operate in many cities in Africa, Mexico, Portugal, and so forth.
TransferWise is probably the best known of all current Estonian startup successes, though it’s not an Estonian company, but registered and managed mainly from London. TransferWise is founded by two entrepreneurs, who now throne the Estonian rich-list. They provide personal and business accounts for people who’re looking to make cheap international payments. The last time I was sending US dollars, the Swiss bank Credit Suisse charged 4-500$ for the transaction, while TransferWise charged around 70$.
Fortumo is another Estonian company that has been operating for a while now, and they’ve built a very solid business being profitable since 2009. What they provide is a direct carrier billing and messaging solutions for businesses. Clients of Fortumo include names such as Spotify, Google, Tencent, Facebook and Amazon.
Veriff is a KYC tool, and with the explosive growth of the KYC industry, Veriff has managed to build an impressive platform with some big-name clients like Mintos, TransferWise and Blockchain.com. As the KYC industry will continue to grow, there’s plenty of growth opportunities ahead, but it’s also a very competitive field with some global players involved.
Paxful is one of the biggest P2P cryptocurrency platforms in the world. They’ve grown their volume year after year, and have become a stable player in the industry, including in territories such as Nigeria, Russia, China and India. Knowing the crypto market rather well, it’s likely that they’re one of the most profitable Estonian companies in this list.
Skeleton Technologies is an Estonian company that operates in ultracapacitor energy storage industry. They’ve built the biggest European ultracapacitor factory in Germany, and are cooperating with the biggest names in the automative industry, as well as with the European Space Agency and with Japan’s biggest industrial group Sumitomo Corporation. If I could go back in time and choose to which Estonian company I could invest in, then Skeleton would be among the very first choices.
COMODULE provides Internet-o-Things (IoT) solutions for manufactures
and fleet operators. If you want to produce “smart” bikes and connect bikes to a mobile app, then COMODULE is the Estonian company that can help. It’s just one of their solutions – check out their website to learn more.
Funderbeam is a platform for companies to raise capital. It’s mainly targeting product-ready stage startups who’re looking for growth capital. The author of this post has invested in several startups through Funderbeam platform. They also enable trading of your investments on their platform, which makes it different from many other similar solution in the market.
These are just some of the Estonian startups and companies which have managed to build and grow their businesses over the years. We did not include great Estonian businesses which have been operating for decades in more traditional industries, as there are too many to mention. If you’d like to join this group of successful Estonian companies, let us know by writing to us at [email protected] We would love to help you to get started and scale your business.