In 2022, Estonian startups emerged stronger than ever, say key stakeholders

Photo: Collage of pictures from Wrap-Up event

The organisations representing Estonian startups and investors summarised the year that ended, which was once again a record one for Estonian startups. The traditional Estonian Startup Ecosystem Fireside Chat panel discussion brought together leaders in the field to discuss the key factors behind this success and to look ahead to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Here are some of their findings.

Finding opportunities

Kaidi Ruusalepp, President of the Estonian Founders Society, noted: “Last year was the most controversial in the recent history of the technology sector. Some startups admit that it was the most difficult year for them so far. Others say it was the best year yet. By the end of the year, however, everyone agreed that the year had made us stronger and made us think about the opportunities to increase the value of our companies in 2023.”

This sentiment was echoed by the other panelists, who emphasized that every crisis presents new opportunities and that the tech sector in Estonia remains strong.

Still, startups were advised to pay close attention to efficiency and optimization in both operations and costs to navigate future times when new funds may not be readily available. This emphasis on streamlining and maximizing resources has likely played a key role in Estonian startups’ continued growth and success.

Lauri Antalainen, Vice President and board member of the Estonian Business Angels Association (EstBAN), stresses that 2022 was more positive than expected for angel investors and that they continue to have great faith in Estonian startups.

“It takes time to achieve success, and investors look at the long term, which continues to look very strong. We were expecting a drop in investment volumes at the end of 2021, and in March of last year, we clearly saw a drop in volumes. Still, we exceeded expectations for the year – investor interest remained and even increased,” Antalainen confirmed.

The advantage of a global perspective

Estonian startups have been aided by their ability to operate globally and invest where the best opportunities lie.

This has been made possible partly by the strong presence of unicorns in the local startup scene, as well as Estonian startups’ overall business savvy and global orientation. In addition, the sector is seeing increased interest from Asian investors seeking new opportunities in Europe.

“We see that investors are highly interested in Estonia and are looking for opportunities to invest,” added Joonas Vänto, Director of Invest Estonia.

With all of that at their disposal, Estonian startups raised an impressive €1.33 billion in investment in 2022, a 35% increase from the previous year. This demonstrates investors’ continued confidence in the local startup ecosystem and bodes well for Estonian businesses’ future growth and success.

Margus Uudam, Chairman of the Board of EstVCA, commented on Estonian startups’ strong competitiveness and efficiency, which has undoubtedly contributed to this success. “My subjective feeling is that our startups are extremely efficient compared to other countries, which gives us a strong competitive advantage,” Uudam said.

Looking ahead, the panel discussion participants were optimistic about the Estonian tech sector’s future and the opportunities it presents. Estonian startups have proven to be resilient and are well-positioned to continue their growth and success in the years ahead.

With their strong efficiency, global orientation, and business savvy, Estonian startups are well-equipped to navigate any challenges and seize the opportunities that come their way.

The traditional end-of-year panel discussion Estonian Startup Ecosystem Fireside Chat is organised by Startup Estonia, the Estonian Founders’ Society, the Estonian Business Association (EstBAN), the Estonian Investment Agency and the Estonian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EstVCA).  The discussion was moderated by Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia.


Photo credit: Jonny Caspari /Unsplash; Silver Gutmann

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