5 Estonian startups to watch in 2015
Estonia is known for Skype, but there are more cool startups in this tech-savvy country. Estonia is my favorite country in the Baltics, and I have many friends there. The local startups scene is well described on the #Estonianmafia wall of fame at cool coworking space Garage48, in Tallinn. TransferWise (firm facilitating international money transfers) or GrabCAD (the cloud based platform helping mechanical engineers collaborate) were making headlines in 2014.
(NOTE — Written for EU Startups. Please do not republish elsewhere. You can quote from the interview but refer to original source)
Here are some good younger companies that are on my radar:
1. Taxify is a taxi app 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. 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 is a new way how 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 in a situation where clients need a replacement very quickly. The Tallinn-based firm offers “workbites” up to 140 hours to companes for free. Currently active only in Estonia and Finland, but the list of clients is impressive.
3. Lingvist — learn a language in 200 hours — currently ranks 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 is the secret sauce to reach a B2 level vocabulary 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,” according to Lingvist founders.
4. There are a few good projects 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. It comes in pairs. 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 will light up instantly … cute and romantic.
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.