Gathering of the digital society at Latitude59. The interview

Ucha Vekua
Aug 23, 2020 · 5 min read

Latitude59 is the flagship startup & tech event of e-Estonia — the world’s first digital society. They bring the international startup communities together and connect them by providing a platform for entrepreneurs and investors to learn, connect and network.

Recently, I visited their team in the Lift99 Tallinn Hub and had a really nice chat with their CEO Maarja Pehk about their amazing conference, team and what to expect from Latitude59 2020. The interview was very interesting and insightful — it was great to find out more about the organisational part of the great annual Estonian event.

The event this year will take place on 27th and 28th of August at Kultuurikatel in Tallinn, Estonia. It is definitely a great place to meet new people and get valuable connections. Although the conference this year will be a bit different — those, who can’t travel to Estonia due to the travel restrictions, have a chance to attend this event online, which will give them a chance to fully experience an amazing event from anywhere in the world.

I have been attending the Latitude59 conferences from the year 2017 and it has always been an exciting thing to do for me as a startup enthusiast — I met lots of new people and learned new things over the years. In fact, I was volunteering and helping to organise it on my first Latitude59 event.

As I mentioned, the interview was very interesting. Sooo let’s dig into it!

Here’s what we talked about:

How would you describe the Latitude59 in the simplest way?

Latitude59 is an Estonian flagship tech & startup event. We’ve been taking place from 2012, but the conference itself started in 2008. In 2012 the local startup community in Estonia saw a need to have a national tech conference — back then Estonia was already starting to shine bright as a tech nation.

We attract everyone who is interested in what is happening in the region — so all the investors who want to invest in the Baltics, all the e-residents and the startup visa holders are welcome! Usually, we host 2500 people on location in Kultuurikatel and half of these people come from all over the world — we cover a very wide spectrum of the visitors every year.

You will see a lot of early-stage, seed-stage and A-round startups and, over the years, we’ve seen an increasing interest from investors — this year we expect to have a record number of VCs attending the conference.

Other than that, we also represent Estonia as a digital nation, so we have a strong emphasis on what is happening in e-governance.

What are the Core Objectives of Latitude59 Conference?

The main objective is to put startups together with investors — that’s everything that we really work for. We don’t focus on specific verticals per se, but we do have core topics that might explore on the stage but we don’t limit startups in terms of the areas that they work in.

So the core principle is to give people a chance to get together and learn something from each other.

Startups have to fill in a form before they get their ticket. That way we can provide them with the best matchmaking experience with the investors. In terms of trends, when putting together a programme, we are heavily looking at what is happening around and try to cater for those trends.

What should we(attendees) expect this year from the conference?

This year, we organise it as a hybrid event — we have guests on location in Tallinn and the rest of the people attending online. We are allowed to have up to 1500 people visiting on-site and the rest to attend online.

The key point of Latitude59 is to connect people and bring them together. This is why we don’t want to increase the number of attendees too much.

This year we will still have a very international and mixed crowd although we needed to limit the program this time. So we will have 2 stages instead of last year’s 5

We are keeping the most popular program elements though — we still have the founder stories, Best of the Baltic States, the VC reverse pitch and some interactive sessions

Tell us a bit about your team…

We have nine people in our core team, who basically start working full-time on this conference 4–5 months before the event.

The programme manager who reaches out to potential speakers and puts together the schedule. Startup relations manager is responsible for the pitching competition and demo areas in addition to the general liaison with the startups. We also have a marketing manager and an investor relations person and a volunteer manager who manages the over 70 volunteers who help us make it happen year on year. There is also a PR manager and a person responsible for fundraising and partnerships and all of us couldn’t function without our assistant. Check the whole team out here.

Other than that, we have lots of partners who are helping with organising — Latitude59 truly is a community event and that’s one of the keys of our success.

What would be your message to the young startup entrepreneurs, who are coming to Latitude59 this year and are looking for different opportunities?

You should prepare before the event and be ready to meet and mingle with very interesting and exciting people — Latitude59 2020 will be full of new opportunities for you!

Check out the aftermovie from Latitude59 2019:

#sumUp

The interview was very interesting and insightful. It was great to visit the Latitude59 team and see these professionals working side by side. I would like to thank Maarja for sitting down with us and telling about the secret ingredients in the making of the grand Latitude59 conference happen every year.

Ucha Vekua

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Ucha Vekua

Written by

Content Creator — Sharing experiences and Startup Adventures 🚀

Startup Adventures International

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Ucha Vekua

Written by

Content Creator — Sharing experiences and Startup Adventures 🚀

Startup Adventures International

We are Startup Adventures - we show how the startup mindset works! In this publication, you can share your startup experiences and tell us about you! Join our community on Facebook 🙌🏼 🚀

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