On May 3, Sifted is running its first full-day event of 2022 in Tallinn for Baltic startups and scaleups. Check out the agenda here. To accompany the event, we’ve launched a ranking of Baltic startups and scaleups to watch in 2022, available here. This piece is an accompaniment to that ranking.
A mere decade ago, the Baltic startup scene was just in its infancy.
Since then, the region has consistently punched above its weight, creating global success stories, including mobility startup Bolt, secondhand clothes marketplace Vinted, print-on-demand service Printful and videocaller Skype. Call it the land of unicorns.
Notwithstanding geopolitical concerns, 2022 has generally maintained traction. In January, Bolt banked the largest round recorded in the region — a cool €628m Series F — while Veriff and Nord Security bagged two unicorn megarounds of $100m each, at a $1.5bn and $1.6bn valuation respectively.
Around 2,100 tech startups have been launched in the past five years in the region, as some early successes like Skype have provided the talent, capital and inspiration for the next generation of operators and founders.
Estonia and Lithuania exceed the European average for the Digital Economy and Society Index, while Latvia stands just below France and Portugal. The region has also been allocated around €1.2bn in digitalisation as part of the EU’s Covid recovery plans.
Startup visas, stock option policies, lenient tax systems and growing angel pools are among the perks that attract founders to set up shop in the area.
But relocation and brain drain are still common. The Baltics’ tech influence has expanded well beyond its geographical borders — some of the region’s most prolific founders have launched startups elsewhere in Europe, landing large rounds across several sectors.
Among them are Estonians Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, founders of London-based Wise (Hinrikus also backed Zego, the UK-based insurtech unicorn founded by fellow Estonian Sten Saar). There’s also Mike Arbuzov, founder of Norwegian printing platform Gelato and early Skype employee, and Norris Koppel, serial entrepreneur and founder of British fintech Monese.
Outside of Europe, notable startups with Baltic origin or influence include the likes of Pipedrive, ID.me and Glia. Whether the new fleet of startups stay or go, they certainly have a hard act to follow.
We’re going to Tallinn!
Ahead of our Tallinn event, we’ve compiled a list of the startups to keep an eye on across the three countries.
It’s a mix of new entries and some more familiar names boasting significant growth since their last feature.
Riga-based Lokalise is a continuous localisation and translation platform for a wide range of products, such as web and mobile apps, games and customer service. It's banked a $50m Series B since its last feature on a Sifted ranking, and grew its team by 135% over the year. It had previously been bootstrapped.
Tuum (formerly Modularbank)
Selected by our Intelligence Team as a rising star in the banking-as-a-service sector, Tuum offers a modular platform that facilitates the integration of core banking features. It raised a €15m Series A earlier in the year to accommodate its European expansion. Clients include Veriff, HAWK:AI and the Nets Group.
Founded in 2020, Grünfin is a sustainable investment platform focused on impact portfolios for climate change, health and gender equality. The previous experience of cofounders Triin Hertmann and Karin Nemec includes stints at Wise and Skype to Swedbank and Grant Thornton. Grünfin appeared in our wealthtech Sifted Pro briefing.
Other notable features include Nordigen, Single.earth, PVcase, SME Finance and others.
Federico Scolari is data intern reporter at Sifted.