Estonian start-ups continue to break records


The turnover of Estonian start-ups increased by 57%, to EUR 417 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. However, the volume of investments involved amounted to over EUR 900 million in the first quarter.

Eve Peeterson
Eve Peeterson

Estonian start-ups raised a record EUR 906.6 million of investments in the first quarter and a total of 22 transactions were made. The average transaction amount was EUR 41.2 million, which is four times larger than the average transaction size last year. A total of 16 Estonian start-ups have attracted investments in excess of EUR 1 million.

According to Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia, Estonian start-ups exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts in the three months of this year. ‘Investments of nearly EUR 1 billion is a number that even the biggest optimists could not have predicted last year. Record investments mean growth of enterprises, new jobs and higher taxes for the state, and this is undoubtedly also a quality label for local start-ups – investors have faith in our start-ups and their future,’ Peeterson said.

Only a year ago in Q1 of 2021, the volume of transactions concluded with investors totalled EUR 194 million and altogether 19 transactions were made with an average size of EUR 10.2 million, of which 11 were larger than EUR 1 million.

In the first three months of the year, Estonia also received two new unicorns – Veriff crossed the billion-dollar threshold in January, and Glia in March. To date, Estonians have ten start-ups, the value of which exceeds the magical billion-dollar mark. ‘Only Israel continues to outperform Estonia in the world, where today, there are more unicorns per capita. In Europe, Estonia is clearly at the forefront,’ Peeterson pointed out.

According to the start-up database managed by Startup Estonia, there were 1,363 start-ups operating in Estonia as at the end of the first quarter. To date, 20 of the start-ups created in the first three months of the year have been entered in the database. There are 471 start-ups in Estonia that have been operating for five or more years, i.e. 35% of the start-ups entered in the database.

Kaidi Ruusalepp, President of the Estonian Founders Society and a founder and CEO of Funderbeam, said that Estonia can clearly be called a unicorn country or a startup-nation. ‘Over the years, local start-ups have created a completely new type of knowledge in Estonia – the ability to build and manage international high-tech companies. We can call it a new treasure or an eleventh unicorn. But, in order to grow further, Estonia also needs to be the world’s best eco-system for start-ups. A lot of changes have already been made, but as they say, the devil is in the details,’ Ruusalepp said.

The turnover of start-ups was EUR 417 million in Q1, which is by 57% more than in Q1 of 2021, when the turnover of the start-up sector totalled EUR 265.8 million. The biggest turnover in the first quarter of this year was generated by Bolt (EUR 178.4 million), Swappie (EUR 20.4 million), Veriff (EUR 13.1 million), 3Commas (EUR 8.5 million), Comodule (EUR 7.8 million) and Adcash (EUR 7.8 million).

The turnover data for start-ups involves data published quarterly by the Tax and Customs Board on the basis of VAT returns submitted by persons liable to value added tax, and are therefore not comparable with the annual accounts of taxable persons.

Startup Estonia connects and supports Estonian start-ups. Startup Estonia collects data in cooperation with start-ups and the published statistics are based on data from start-ups, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, and Statistics Estonia. Startup Estonia is a national programme to develop Estonia’s start-up ecosystem, boosting the emergence of start-ups and international success stories. The programme of Startup Estonia is carried out by the KredEx and Enterprise Estonia joint organisation. Startup Estonia’s research accelerator activities are carried out by SmartCap.

The Startup Estonia programme (project number EU50651) is financed using funds from the European Regional Development Fund.