Turnover of Estonian start-ups approaches EUR 1 billion


The total turnover of Estonian start-ups in the first three quarters of this year reached EUR 931.5 million. This is 63% more compared to the same period in 2020, when the turnover of the Estonian start-up sector was EUR 570.5 million.

Eve Peeterson
Eve Peeterson

In just nine months this year, Estonian start-ups exceeded last year’s total turnover. Last year, Estonian start-ups generated EUR 782 million in turnover, according to Startup Estonia. The turnover data for businesses 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.

Eve Peeterson, Head of Startup Estonia, commented that one of the main goals of a start-up is to grow as quickly as possible; however, when compared to other countries, the growth of the local start-up sector is impressive. ‘Rapid growth is supported by the experience of our start-ups and a well-functioning ecosystem, as well as the fact that it is very difficult to grow very large in the Estonian market, which is why our start-ups are increasing their bets by expanding into international markets at an early stage. Even the biggest sceptics today can no longer ignore the fact that the Estonian technology sector is growing into one of the most high-potential industries in Estonia,’ said Peeterson.

The highest turnovers in the first three quarters were generated by Bolt, with EUR 474 million; Adcash, with EUR 24.3 million; Paxful, with EUR 19.4 million; Crezu, with EUR 16.3 million; and 3Commas Technologies, with EUR 16 million.

Peeterson added that although the data of VAT returns submitted by persons liable to VAT differ from those in the annual accounts, they currently still give the best possible running overview of the sector’s current situation and growth. ‘The numbers may vary slightly, but the trend of rapid growth is a fact. We are currently developing a refined methodology in cooperation with Statistics Estonia, and hopefully we will be able to improve the accuracy of the data as early as next year,’ she added.

Today, 1290 start-ups are registered in the database managed by Startup Estonia. A total of 86 start-ups, or 7% of the start-ups in the database, were created this year.

Peeterson pointed out that in addition to rapid growth, the local start-up sector is also characterised by its maturity. ‘A start-up is conventionally defined as a technology company that is oriented towards global growth and is no more than ten years old. Today, we have reached a stage of development where increasingly more local start-ups are reaching maturity, i.e., are more than ten years old, and almost a third of start-ups are at least five years old. The data of mature companies is no longer reflected in the Startup Estonia statistics. In addition, our data are increasingly affected by the sales of start-ups, i.e., exits. In view of these facts, it is noteworthy that the sector as a whole continues to grow, even though the numbers of several successful companies are no longer reflected in the statistics,’ she added.

So far this year, five start-ups have reached ten years of age, with 347 start-ups, or 27% of all start-ups, being five years and older in the Estonian start-up database. In the three quarters of this year, there have also been three sales of start-ups: Icefire, GetID, and SpectX.

The largest sector occupied by Estonian start-ups is business software and services, which accounts for 18% or 234 start-ups in the Startup Estonia database. The second largest sector is financial technology, with 170 start-ups, or 13% of all start-ups. In third place is the final consumer products and services sector, with 135 start-ups, or 11%. The fourth largest sector is advertising and creative services, with 116 companies or 9% of the start-ups in the Startup Estonia database.

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 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.