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Explore the most startup-friendly region in the world - the Baltics

At the beginning of this year, Index Ventures made changes to their list of the most startup-friendly countries in the world. The new changes saw Latvia taking the pole position along with the other two Baltic countries - Estonia and Lithuania closely following. So what changed and how can startups take advantage of the booming regions' offers?

The small region of just six million people is the home of more than 2000 startups. With the local market being relatively small, most startups are born with a global mindset from day one. In other words, if you want to survive and thrive, you have to think big. The region has seen many success stories in the past by having 9 unicorns, the last being Latvia's first unicorn Printful.


But being a unicorn is not all, the Baltics have so much more it can offer to both local startups and those looking for a gateway to the EU from the East. Here are quick summaries by Index Ventures on why the countries are scoring so high in the ranking.


Latvia: "In January 2021, a very favourable new approach to stock options was introduced, which applies to all private limited companies. It is slightly more flexible than Estonia’s (already existing) scheme."


Estonia: "There is no specific scheme for startups, but the tax regime which applies to all private companies is exceptionally flexible and favourable".


Lithuania: "In February 2020, new tax-favourable legislation came into effect for the treatment of stock options. This applies to all private and public limited companies."


To learn more about why Baltic countries are the most startup-friendly in the world please consult this article by Index Ventures. Meanwhile, continue reading this article to learn a bit more about the support organizations, events, and government support available in the Baltics.



SUPPORT ORGANIZATIONS


Latvia

TechChill is a non-profit organization with the aim to help Latvian and Baltic startups succeed in the world. They do so by filling the gaps in knowledge, skills, and network. In practice, it means that TechChill invites the best people from different fields to visit Riga for the TechChill tech and startup event and they go around the world and promote Latvian and Baltic companies and ecosystems. In addition to the flagship event, TechChill organises various smaller events during the year to boost the startup ecosystem from different angles – e.g. by attracting the next leaders and founders via their student events, by helping startups to attract the best talent, they host matchmaking as well as networking events.


Riga TechGirls is the first community in Latvia dedicated to educating and inspiring girls & women about technology. We love technology and are passionate about the contribution women can make to the technology field. When girls develop digital skills, they are empowered to become architects of the future.


Latvian startup association (NGO) Startin.LV was created in 2016 to unite the Latvian startup community around common values and provide a joint opinion with the aim to develop a better startup ecosystem in Latvia. Startin.LV is a platform that enables startups to initiate ideas, be heard, and receive support in fulfilling their needs and solving problems. At the moment they have 89 active members.


TechHub Riga is a community of new technology startups who can meet, work, learn, and collaborate! Located in the center of Riga at Kronvalda blvd 4, we are the home for 20+ startups and a host of various events, such as Monthly Meetups. Even more, TechHub Riga has become synonymous with innovation and technology, and the center of the startup community in Latvia!


The Raccoons is a student organization with a keen interest in the latest technology and science. They believe that technology should be known to everyone, regardless of industry, so they have created different types of activities that allow students to get to know technology and science better and try their hand at programming.



Estonia

Startup Estonia "is a governmental initiative aimed to supercharge the Estonian startup ecosystem in order to be the birthplace of many more startup success stories to come. For that, we are working on making Estonia one of the world's best places for startups, partnering with and uniting the best of startups, incubators, accelerators, private and public sectors."


Lift99 "aims to strengthen the global startup community and to help startups succeed by bringing founders together, both physically and digitally. It is a community space and vibrant startup hub in the heart of Tallinn, Estonia. Flagship of Estonian startup ecosystem, home of #EstonianMafia community and the Wall of Fame of Estonian startups."


Garage48 "was the first startup co-working Hub in Estonia and is the organizer of well-known hackathon event series with reach across Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa."


.Cocoon "is a 1-year self-discovery and company growth program through personal mentoring. We start from your startup’s business challenge and find the link between the challenge and you (your perception - approach, attitudes, and behaviors)."



Lithuania

Startup Lithuania "is the national startup ecosystem facilitator between fast-growing business, venture capital funds, accelerators, startup friendly enterprises, and the government."


Lithuanian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (LT VCA) "unites private equity and venture capital market participants in Lithuania. LT VCA continuously informs the society about the activities of the members of the Association, facilitates the outcomes of innovative businesses by developing an attractive and sustainable environment for entrepreneurs, institutional investors, fund managers, and others."

Tech Zity "is not just locations and workplaces. It’s a constantly growing community of like-minded people. Whether you’re a freelancer, a growing startup, or an established enterprise, we’ve created infrastructure, across multiple locations that give you a chance to connect, learn, share ideas & create your own success story."



EVENTS


Latvia

TechChill "celebrates the best of the Baltic startup community by annually bringing together 2000+ attendees, including the fastest-growing startups, most innovative corporations, investors active in the region, and talented tech enthusiasts. TechChill is organized by a non-profit foundation of the same name, empowering the Baltic startup ecosystem throughout the year.”


ICEBREAKERS is the biggest business opportunity festival for students in Northern Europe. It discovers the vast potential in entrepreneurship, availability of Startup support instruments, and opportunities to develop the entrepreneurial spirit.



Estonia

Latitude59 "is the cosy spring gathering for people serious about startups, investing, and the future of governance."


sTARTUp Day "is the biggest festival in the Baltics, bringing together startups, traditional entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and students. The aim of the event is to connect startup-minded people and celebrate entrepreneurship in the smart city of Tartu.”



Lithuania

LOGIN "is the largest, richest in content, and probably the boldest innovation gathering in the Baltics. They name it a festival as we attract quite a crowd – 6,000 game changers, forward thinkers, tech-savvy innovators, and people thirsty for knowledge.”


Startup Fair "is an annual and the main international startup ecosystem event in Lithuania organized by Startup Lithuania - the national startup ecosystem facilitator.”



TALENT


Latvia

Printful "is an on-demand printing and fulfillment company that helps people turn their ideas into brands and products. Whether you wish to create your own online brand or gift someone a personalized t-shirt, we can help you get it done. Whenever someone—you or your customer—makes a purchase, we'll automatically receive the order, fulfill, and ship it."


Lokalise "is a translation management system built for agile teams who want to automate their localization process. They give developers the tools to eliminate the hassle of localization: powerful APIs, CLI tools, mobile SDKs, and comprehensive documentation."


Printify "is a transparent print-on-demand platform that makes it dead simple to work with multiple print providers all around the world to fulfill and send your products to your customers."


Nordigen "is an authorised Account Information Service Provider. We provide free access to bank data and premium data insights".


Giraffe360 "is a game-changing subscription product for real estate companies to streamline professional quality photography and high-accuracy floor plan creation."



Estonia

Wise "was launched in 2011 with the vision of making international money transfers cheap, fair, and simple. Today, their multi-currency account helps over 11 million people and businesses manage their money across the world."


Bolt "is one of the fastest-growing startups in the world with over 75M happy customers in 45+ countries, from Europe to LatAm to Africa. They’re building the future of mobility – one platform that connects you with cars, motorcycles, scooters, and e-bikes, or food delivery from your favourite restaurant. Fast, convenient and affordable service for everyone."


Scoro "is an end-to-end work management solution that allows professional and creative services to control their entire workflow from one place. It helps to streamline work and eliminate routine tasks to ensure a business runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible – from sales right through to billing."

Veriff "makes sure that people are who they say they are. Faster. From anywhere in the world. Making it easier every step of the way with Veriff’s AI-powered identity verification and KYC solution without compromising compliance and identity fraud."



Lithuania

Vinted "is the largest online international C2C marketplace in Europe dedicated to second-hand fashion. The brainchild of Milda Mitkutė and Justas Janauskas, Vinted grew from a local website into a mobile-first community of 45+ million people in 15 markets: France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy and the USA."


kevin. "is a payments fintech that provides a secure and developer-friendly payments infrastructure accessible via an API. We give businesses the ability to accept payments directly from banks, cutting out the card networks and making payments process cheaper, faster, smoother, and more convenient."


ZITICITY "has found a scalable way to crowd-source delivery fleets in every major European city. The best part, businesses of any size can use these fleets and their technology to deliver packages in 42 minutes on average."


CityBee "is a new concept of personal mobility in urban areas, it is a shared mobility service (cars, bikes, electronic scooters) designed to reduce pollution in cities and facilitate all your travels. It's sexy, stylish and economically clever way to move around the city. You pay only for the time using and mileage. We take care of fuel, insurance and car maintenance."



GOVERNMENT SUPPORT


Latvia

Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) "works to increase export and competitiveness of Latvian companies, facilitate foreign investment and implement tourism development and innovation policies."



Estonia

The Estonian Investment Agency "is primarily focused on attracting development centres, highly automated industry, and smart capital to Estonia. The aim is to seek more foreign investments in Estonian rural areas in order to revitalise Estonian life as evenly as possible."


Enterprise Estonia (EAS) "is an Estonian governmental agency that supports business model development and innovation acceleration, trade development, raising foreign direct investments, attracting foreign talent, developing tourism. With offices in 17 foreign markets, Enterprise Estonia serves as a bridge between the Estonian business environment and the world."



Lithuania

Enterprise Lithuania "is a non-profit agency under Ministry of Economy and Innovation established to promote entrepreneurship, support business development and foster export. The team at Enterprise Lithuania is a reliable adviser and assistant for start, growth, and export of national businesses with a focus on SME’s."



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