In many ways, Tallinn is one of Europe’s foremost digital cities and a natural home for tech entrepreneurs with flare and ambition.
The Estonian capital of Tallinn emerged from the grips of the Eastern Bloc in the 20th century to become a jewel in Europe’s digital crown in the 21st century.
The country tops all the necessary scorecards for digital penetration and governance.
Under a sweeping e-Estonia initiative, the country is pursuing brave initiatives. Among these ideas is an ambitious e-Residency programme that has already attracted 10,000 global entrepreneurs who can establish businesses in Estonia and run them anywhere in the world.
The city has a maturing investment scene with leading players including the eponymous Jaan Tallinn, who built the back-end to Skype as well as the music sharing application Kazaa.
And so, here are the 12 Tallinn start-ups we recommend watching in 2018.
Tallinn-based peer-to-peer lending platform Bondora has a network of more than 27,000 investors and became profitable this year. Bondora, which was founded by Martin Rask, Mihkel Tasa and Partel Tomberg, has processed more than €1bn worth of loans on its site. The company has raised about €7.2m to date, including a €4.5m Series A round two years ago led by Valinor Management.
— Deekit (@Deekitapp) August 1, 2017
Founded by ex-Skype executives Asko Tamm, Erki Esken, Kaili Kleemeier and Kristo Magi, Deekit is a collaborative whiteboard aimed at remote teams and digital nomads. Born out of Kleemeier’s experience of collaborating remotely with technical teams, the platform enables people to collaborate infinitely in real time using any kind of content. Earlier this year, the company raised €400,000 in a seed round led by Spring Capital.
Creator of innovative security devices called Flak Secuters, Estonian start-up DigiFlak is shaking up the infosec world. Flak Secuters are all-in-one USB and NFC devices that enable authentication without passwords. A European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) scale-up, the company recently entered a partnership with Engage Black, a US Cryptographic Alliance manufacturer. Founded in Tallinn in 2013, DigiFlak was the winner of the Cyber Security and Privacy category of the 2015 EIT Digital Challenge, and was the first Estonian company ever to take the top prize in this pan-European competition.
Funderbeam is all about funding and creating a trading engine for growth companies by providing the tools necessary to research, fund and trade in private companies. Essentially, it is a stock exchange for start-ups built on blockchain technology. So far, early-stage start-ups have raised $5.8m from investors in nearly 100 countries. Founded in 2013 by Kaidi Ruusalepp and Urmas Peiker, Funderbeam has raised a total of $7.4m to date from investors that include Jaan Tallinn, venture capitalist Tim Draper and Mistletoe’s Taizo Son.
Jobbatical is all about connecting businesses with the best creative and technology talent worldwide. Founded in 2014 by Allan Mäeots, Karoli Hindriks and Ronald Hindriks, Jobbatical has an interesting revenue model that charges firms an upfront fee and actually helps workers with Visa services. The company has raised more than $7.9m so far, including a recent $4m Series A round led by Mistletoe and involving Union Square Ventures, Tera Ventures and AirTree Ventures.
Made possible by Estonia’s pioneering e-Residency programme, LeapIN is a fintech that represents the smart, hassle-free way to run your microbusiness. Founded in 2015 by Avo Alender, Erik Mell, Erko Hansar and Urmo Pärg, LeapIN wants to empower anyone to become an entrepreneur. LeapIN now employs more than 20 people and recently embarked on a bid to raise €1.3m in funding.
— Benjamin Bathke (@BenjaminBathke) November 23, 2017
Lingvist is an AI platform that is all about enabling people to learn a new language. Founded in 2013 by Andres Koern, Mait Muntel, Ott Jalakas and Tanel Hiir, Lingvist has raised more than €9.4m in funding, including a €1m seed round led by Techstars, €1.6m in EU funding under Horizon 2020 and an $8m Series A round led by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten as well as participation from Jaan Tallinn, ex-Skype executive Geoff Prentice and local investment firm SmartCap.
— Pipedrive (@pipedrive) November 21, 2017
Pipedrive is the creator of an innovative cloud CRM platform that helps businesses keep track of sales online. With offices in Tallinn and New York, Pipedrive was founded in 2010 by Martin Henk, Martin Tajur, Ragnar Sass, Timo Rein and Urmas Purde. The company has raised more than $31m to date, including a $17m Series B round led by Niklas Zennström’s Atomico.
Plumbr is the creator of software that helps to automatically detect the root causes of Java performance issues, saving developers hundreds of lost hours on debugging. Founded in 2011, Plumbr evolved out of a PhD project, and today it includes customers such as NASA, NATO, Dell, HBO and Experian. Investors include members of the so-called ‘Skype Mafia’, such as Jaan Tallinn and Sten Tamkivi.
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— Scoro (@ScoroSoftware) November 23, 2017
Scoro, which has offices in Tallinn, London and San Francisco, is an Estonian start-up specialising in work management software. Founded in 2013 by Fred Krieger, Kristina Lilleõis and Priit Matiisen, Scoro helps companies to manage their workflow and automate tasks. Clients include Grant Thornton and Sotheby’s International. Scoro scored a $1.9m seed funding round last year involving Alchemist Accelerator, Inventure Oy and Tera Ventures.
Taxify is one of Europe’s answers to Uber and operates in 20 countries across the continent as well as the Middle East and Africa. One of the fastest-growing ride-sharing platforms in Europe, it was founded in 2013 by Markus Villig, Martin Villig and Oliver Leisalu. It serves more than 3m passengers and 100,000 drivers. It has raised more than $2.1m to date and investors include Chinese mobile transport platform player Didi Chuxing.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt pic.twitter.com/V2HLuh8Veh
— Weps (@weps_official) October 3, 2017
Weps is a Tallinn-headquartered website builder that uses an AI chatbot to make building a website more intuitive. The chatbot asks a series of yes-no questions and, with zero coding or dragging and dropping, users get the website they want. Weps recently took part in the Axel Springer Berlin-based Plug and Play Accelerator. Founded in 2015 by Jorma Jürisaar, Juhan Kaarma and Taavid Mikomägi, Weps has raised $125,000 in a convertible note from Contriber.
Updated, 5.58pm, 1 December 2017: This article has been updated to correct the total sum raised to date by Funderbeam following a correction from CMO Mads Emil Dalsgaard.