Number of employees in Estonian startups increased by more than a thousand


At the end of Q3 of this year, a total of 7659 people were working in Estonian startups, which is 21% more than during the same period last year. During that period, a total of 6308 people were employed in the startup sector.

Eve Peeterson
Eve Peeterson

Eve Peeterson, the Head of Startup Estonia, noted that last year saw a slowdown in the pace of recruitment by startups as the global corona crisis affected Estonian startups that were oriented towards international markets, although the startup sector has since recovered from those setbacks. ‘Estonian startups have adapted to the corona crisis and emerged from it successfully. For the third quarter in a row, we are seeing a recovery and an increase in the pace of recruitment. This demonstrates both the adaptability of our startups and their maturity in a broader sense,’ said Peeterson.

In Q1 of this year, Estonian startups paid a total of EUR 90.3 million in labour taxes to the Estonian state, which is 24% more than at the end of Q3 in 2020, when labour taxes amounted to a total of EUR 73 million.

Bolt, the flagship of the Estonian startup sector, was once again the biggest payer of labour taxes, having paid a total of EUR 13.3 million in labour taxes for its Estonian employees. Bolt is followed by Wise (EUR 12.9 million), Paxful (EUR 3.9 million), Veriff (EUR 3.8 million), and Starship Technologies (EUR 2.6 million).

The top 20 employers in the startup sector are recruiting 55% of all employees today, and as at the end of Q3, these startups employed a total of 4234 people.

As at the end of Q3, Wise was the largest employer in the Estonian startup sector. The company employed 1157 people, and the number of Wise employees increased by 228 compared to the end of last year. Bolt ranked second (932 employees, with an increase of 249 people compared to last year). Swappie ranked third, while increasing its number of employees from zero to 346 in the first three quarters of the year. The top three are followed by Veriff (277 employees) and Starship Technologies (178 employees).

According to statistics from Startup Estonia, Estonian startups pay remuneration that is nearly twice the Estonian average. ‘We do not collect data on remuneration of startups on a quarterly basis, and we will prepare a more comprehensive summary at the beginning of the new year; however, the strong growth in labour remuneration paid signals that, in addition to the number of employees, the level of remuneration in Estonian startups has also increased,’ Peeterson adds.

The average gross remuneration in Estonian startups reached EUR 2398 last year, almost twice the average remuneration in Estonia. The average startup employee in Estonia is a young, highly educated professional. A total of 36% of employees in Estonian startups are women and 64% are men. Around a fifth of startups in Estonia also employ foreigners. Based on data from last year, 59% of employees in Estonian startups possessed higher education.

Startup Estonia connects and supports Estonian startups. Startup Estonia collects data in cooperation with startups and the published statistics are based on data from startups, the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, and Statistics Estonia. Startup Estonia is a national programme to develop Estonia’s startup ecosystem, boosting the emergence of startups and international success stories. The programme of Startup Estonia is carried out by KredEx. 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.