Last Week in Baltic Tech and Startup News (May 19-28, 2021)
Estonia is being recognized for their startup gender diversity in senior positions and among founders, while Latvia aims to become even more startup-friendly with initiatives in the legal space. The upcoming conference MediaHack 2021 will be largely supported by DELFI, and DELFI will be opening their own support program for tech development, while TechChill was dominated by Baltics area startups. Printful became Latvia’s first unicorn, Interactio raised 31 million dollars in the Baltics’ largest-ever Series A funding, Wise raised an additional 160 million pounds from Silicon Valley Bank, and Introwise secured an additional 275 thousands euros to take their total funding to 380 thousand euros.
Most startup-friendly country in the world to develop national fintech strategy
Latvia plans to develop two national policies in support of the start-up ecosystem, a national startup support policy and a fintech strategy.
Consistently ranked one of the most startup friendly cultures in publications across the board, Latvia has now seized the title of “Most Startup Friendly Country in the World” by Index Ventures.
The friendliness comes from a national fintech support strategy, legal frameworks and incentives that allow startups to flourish in a number of ways, and a general startup strategy allowance.
Both the Regulatory Sandbox (help with running models through a prototype while going through the regulatory process) and the Innovation Hub(help with regulation, licensing process, AML framework, IT security management of their company) offer assistance and support to new startups within Latvia.
The movement has been lead by the Ministry of Finance, the Financial and Capital Market Commission of Latvia, fintech industry representatives, banks, the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), and various professional industry associations.
Lithuania's sole tech unicorn Vinted expands to Canada
Vinted, Lithuania’s first and only unicorn thus far, as well as the EU’s leading second-hand clothing and accessories sales platform, announced their expansion into Canada.
Canada marks the 14th unique market that the company has entered, joining Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, the UK, and the US
Earlier this month, Vinted attracted another €250mn in investment, bringing the company's market capitalisation to €3.5bn, which they say will be used to further expansion within the European sphere
Headquartered in Vilnius, with other offices around the globe.
MediaHack 2021 - an international online hackathon dedicated to media industry challenges
The online competition MediaHack is coming up between June 3-6, 2021.
MediaHack is another branch of niche hackathons arranged by WindHack, who have also hosted SexHack, SportsHack, and GameHack, and the online competition will take place June 3-6 with a 3,000 euro prize.
The competition focuses on challenges in the media industry, with the 4 categories for competition comprised of “Media Content Creation”, “Media Content Distribution”, “Interactive and Inclusive Media Content” and “Future Media”.
Participation is free and includes support from industry experts and mentors, and professionals from DELFI, and an additional 1,500 from DELFI will be awarded to the first prize winner.
Riga Technical University and the University of Latvia are also implementing the project “Innovation Grants for Students” to help nurture and develop similar talents with state funding.
Longenesis from Latvia crowned winner of Fifty Founders Battle pitch-off at TechChill 2021
This year’s Tech Chill competition, the 10th to date, had over 1,700 companies competing for the general prize and 200 fighting for the Founders Battle title, while next year’s competition will move to its normal season and happen February 17th and 18th, 2022.
Longenesis, a startup based in Latvia and Hong Kong, took the grand prize of 10,000 euros with no strings attached, while Gelatex and VREACH split an additional prize of 250,000 euros provided by a pan-Baltic angel investor syndicate of LatBAN, EstBAN, LitBAN, and Cocoon.
Longenesis shortens clinical trial times by enabling direct communication for safe data curation and compliant, consent-enabled biomedical data utilization for research.
Marina Briskena: Latvia is competitive location for IT and ICT services
With a long history of global companies outsourcing tech work to Eastern Europe, especially the Baltics, governments are taking notice and formalizing many of the frameworks that have facilitated this over the past 20 years.
Baltic governments have modernized/internationalized ICT infrastructure, legislative framework, and added this item to official political agendas.
The success of the Baltics and high rank in the global market in service, computer programming, cybernetics, electronics, consulting, and telecommunications can largely be attributed to a focus on education, early adoption of digital technology, a friendly culture for both startups and innovation, a favorable approach to stock options, and increasing cross-border cooperation.
Wise scoops £160m capital boost from Silicon Valley Bank as it joins Temenos marketplace
Estonian based company Wise is a cross-border fintech startup that raised an additional £160m in capital from Silicon Valley Bank to fund its expansion.
Joining the Temenos Marketplace has now connected the startup to an additional 3,000 banks, offering further flexibility and larger reach.
Wise, formerly TransferWise, gains an edge on competitors by being competitively priced and offering either instantaneous transfers or a maximum transfer time of less than an hour.
Rumors abound that the company’s London IPO will be handled by financial giants Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
Printful becomes Latvia's first unicorn
Printful, a company focused on on-demand printing and dropshipping for both apparel and home accessories has now added $130 million to their investments and hit a $1 billion valuation, making them Latvia’s first unicorn.
The investment came from Bregal Sagemount, a growth-focused private capital firm with $4 billion of committed capital that focuses on investing in software, digital infrastructure, healthcare IT / services, business and consumer services, and financial technology / specialty finance .
The firm also works with Skype and Vinted, mega-players in the Baltics arena.
Printful was launched under Draugiem Group, a Latvian tech and software company.
Lithuanian startup Interactio secures Baltics’ largest ever Series A
$31m went to Interactio in a Series A Round, the largest series ever for a Baltics headquartered company, largely outstripping the second runner-up, where an Estonian billing platform named Fortumo raised $10m.
Interactio is a live translation app used by both the UN and EU Parliament, which provides live translation and a number of other services in chats, forums, and other setups, playing a translation of events in a language of the participants choosing that shuts off when their language is being spoken live.
Funds came from Eight Roads Ventures, Storm Ventures, Practica Capital and Notion Capital; as well as angel investor Jaan Tallinn, cofounder of Skype, and Young Sohn — the ex-chief strategy officer of Samsung.
Estonian startup Introwise nabs €275K pre-seed funding to help coaches and consultants take their business online
The Estonian startup Introwise, designed to help coaches and consultants move to the online sphere as well as helping established businesses with scheduling, payment processing, upselling, video calls, to customer management, and can be set up in less than 10 minutes.
€275K in pre-seed funding, with Wise, Pipedrive, and Bolt founders and alumni among the participating angel investors, including Martin Villig (Bolt), Ragnar Sass (Pipedrive), Taavi Tamkivi (Wise, Salv), James Berdigans (Printify), Taavi Kotka (Nortal, former CIO for Estonia), Ivo Mägi (Nortal, Plumbr).
As well as being the only EU company in the Techstars Seattle 2020 cohort, the total investments in the company now equal €380K.
Startup Estonia: One-fifth of Estonian startups founded by women
While Estonia has a similar rate of women working in the startup industry relative to the rest of the EU, the ratio of women as founders and top specialist positions in country-wide startups trumps other EU rates.
Women have established 196 startups, mostly in the sectors of health, educational technology, and communications, accounting for about 20% of the country’s total.
2,983 women are employed in startups, about 36% of the countries total workforce in the sector, and work in top specialist positions, where the share of women jumps to 39%.
Most of these women are younger, and there’s a push within the community to bring in more women that are 40+ and change careers to enrich the environment even further.
Women in private equity and venture capital in the Baltics 2021
The first report of its kind ever released, initiator Karina Andriukaitienė says “The key goals of this project are to gain a sense of how the women in PE/VC are doing in the Baltic region, as well as to promote, champion and connect female experts who work and hold senior positions within the industry”