12 very exciting start-ups from Vilnius to watch

15 Feb 20184.87k Views

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Aerial view of Cathedral Square, Vilnius. Image: Julius Kielaitis/Shutterstock

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Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius, is home to a maturing and innovative start-up ecosystem with plenty of variety.

Having visited Vilnius twice in recent years, it strikes me as a city that is always at the crossroads of European history, balancing the tumultuous trials of the 20th century with the bright hopes of being a business-friendly EU city, wildly ambitious for tomorrow.

The second-largest city in the Baltic states, its Old Town is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As tech cities go, Vilnius is characterised by the presence of companies such as IBM, Nasdaq, Barclays and many others.

From a start-up perspective, the city is teeming with young, ambitious professionals. It is a low-cost location to get started in, and superb start-ups such as Vinted and Trafi have put it on the global map.

To get a sense of the local scene, Startup Lithuania is a good resource as well as Techstars Startup Digest Lithuania, and Vilnius Tech Park is also fostering a community of start-ups, investors and accelerators.

Key events on the start-up calendar can be found on the Startup Digest, and regular events include Silicon Vikings Vilnius, GDG Vilnius, BarCamp Vilnius and the Open Coffee Club, to name a few. Annual events worth noting include the Login Startup Fair, App Camp and the Startup Lithuania Roadshow.

Here are the start-ups to watch in Vilnius.

Bankera

Bankera describes itself as a bank for the blockchain era, offering loans and deposits. Founded in 2017 by Vytautas Karalevičius, Bankera made its initial coin offer (ICO) on 27 November 2017, raising $100m from 80,000 contributors.

Brolis Semiconductors

Brolis Semiconductors focuses on electronics hardware for the medical and security/defence sectors. Founded by brothers Augustinas, Kristijonas and Dominykas Vizbaras as a spin-off from the Walter Schottky Institute in Munich, the company has raised $11.3m to date. As well as Vilnius, Brolis has an assembly facility in Larne, Northern Ireland, and a photonics centre in Ghent, Belgium. The company had a profitable year in 2017 with revenues of €6.5m and it is tipped to double this in 2018.

CGTrader

CGTrader has developed a marketplace for 3D models to reduce the cost of content creation, targeting professionals working in video gaming, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, and advertising. Founded in 2012 by Dalia Lasaite and Marius Kalytis, CGTrader recently raised €2m in a funding round led by Karma Ventures with participation from Intel Capital and Practica Capital.

Exacaster

Focused on big data, Exacaster is a predictive analytics player that has developed advanced machine-learning algorithms that address sales and marketing challenges, including churn, usage prediction and real-time dynamic pricing. Founded in 2011 by Sarunas Chomentauskas, the company has raised $530,000 to date through a combination of grants and investment.

Foodout Group

Foodout Group is a leading mobile and food delivery marketplace focused on central Europe and is also active in Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and Iran. Founded in 2014 by Jonas Karosas, the company last year raised $1m from Chernovetskyi Investment Group, bringing total funding to $2.3m. It also merged with Ukraine’s EDA.UA.

NanoAvionics

NanoAvionics is an aerospace engineering start-up that was founded as a spin-off from Vilnius University in 2014. Founders of the company were members of the successful first Lithuanian CubeSat project. The company has raised €3.4m to date, including a €3.2m grant to develop its Smallsat propulsion system.

Integrated Optics

Integrated Optics is globally renowned for its laser technology. This consists of small, though extremely powerful, lasers that are suitable for a range of industrial applications, including drones. Its MatchBox 2 series of lasers – claimed to be the most compact laser series in the world – was nominated in the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation in 2017.

Interactio

Interactio is a mobile system that fully replaces audio streaming hardware for live events. With only a laptop and internet access, any kind of audio can stream to listeners’ phones or tablets via the mobile app. Founded in 2014 by Domas Labokas, Henrikas Urbonas and Simona Andrijauskaite, the company raised $580,000 last year in a seed round led by Change Ventures.

PlateCulture

PlateCulture provides a marketplace that offers authentic, home-cooked meals at a chef’s home. Users request a dinner date, the chef approves their request and, once payment is made, the users visit the chef’s home and enjoy the meal with other foodies. The brainchild of founder Reda Stare, PlateCulture has raised $750,000 to date, including a $350,000 investment in 2016 from SmartHub and Practica Capital.

Trafi

Trafi is the creator of a popular mobility app designed to help users devise the most efficient trips, incorporating all transport modes using a powerful algorithm. Founded in 2013 by Algimantas Krasauskas, Dr Jurgis Pasukonis, Mantas Vizbaras and Martynas Gudonavicius, Trafi has raised $14.5m in funding so far.

Universa Blockchain

Universa Blockchain describes itself as a fast and reliable blockchain protocol for businesses and apps. Founded by CEO Alexander Borodich, Universal Blockchain raised $28m in an ICO last December.

Vinted

One of Lithuania’s best known e-commerce start-ups, Vinted is a peer-to-peer marketplace for second-hand fashion items. Founded by Justas Janauskas and Milda Mitkute, Vinted has raised $60.8m in funding from investors that include Burda Principal Investments, Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners.

Aerial view of Cathedral Square, Vilnius. Image: Julius Kielaitis/Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com