More than 25 years have passed since the Soviet Union collapsed, which resulted in 15 countries being free from the axial administering and the antipathetic ideology. The three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — were the first to acknowledge ability and clearly secede from the USSR.

The three countries still have a able attendance within the beat of the post-Soviet republics in terms of technology entrepreneurship and government abutment of innovation. Estonia, for example, is acclaimed as the country where Skype was born, as well as its e-Residency program. Addition Baltic state, Lithuania, has afresh accustomed an official startup visa program, which will allow founders from alfresco the EU to easily open business in the country.

“We are happy to be the bridge amid startups from Axial and Eastern Europe and investors from around the world,” Rimant? Riba?iauskait?, head of the government-backed Startup Lithuania project, told TNW.

Lithuania’s basic Vilnius also hosted the region’s better startup event — LOGIN Startup Fair — beforehand this year. We used the break to talk to the assembly of the country’s ambitious ecosystem in order to learn more about it.

State of the ecosystem

Although not as famous as Skype, Lithuania’s success belief are well worth praising. Among its first tech startups was GetJar, an absolute mobile app store founded in 2004 and sold to Sungy Mobile in 2014. Its founder, Ilja Laurs, has since founded Nextury Ventures, which he called the only fund in Lithuania that “has purely clandestine sources of funding, and no links to European assets or money whatsoever.”


The more accepted examples of Lithuanian startups accommodate Pixelmator, a accepted image editor for Mac OS and iOS, as well as Trafi, which was afresh awarded as the best Travel Planner for public carriage during the 2016 Olympic Games.

The best known success of the recent times, however, is Vinted, a peer-to-peer clothes exchange that has raised almost $60 actor to date and broadcast across Europe and the US. Vinted’s co-founder Justas Janauskas sees a lot of abeyant in the local startup scene.

“The ecosystem is in a very early stage, it’s a first bearing of companies which are created by agog people, majority of whom don’t have much acquaintance in fast-growing tech companies,” he said.

Laurs, whose VC fund has invested in a scattering of local companies, is also optimistic.

“I think the ecosystem is making a ton of progress, and it’s going really fast,” he said. “It would be fair to say that five years ago the ecosystem just did not look like this at all.

“One way to admeasurement the advance alongside is to go to the university and ask students, how many of them see themselves as startup founders. Five years ago, 99 percent would say they just wanted to work for either the government or a big business, and few would even accept what a startup is. But now I think that about half of the acceptance would say that they really want to build a startup.”

Entrepreneurs and investors agree that the whole ambitious movement in Lithuania is no more than five years old, which means it’s too early to admeasurement it in the same way as Nordic or Western European ecosystems.


“Five years ago there was nothing, right, there were no startups, it was just Skype in Estonia,” Startup Lithuania’s Riba?iauskait? said. “Now we have activity startup ecosystems in the three Baltic states.”

The local government is also doing a decent job acknowledging the founders and investors, abnormally at the seed stage.

“We have the Practica Basic fund here backed by the European Investment Fund,” Janauskas added. “They’ve invested in a lot of early stage companies, and that’s cool, because people can learn how to spend money, how to fail, how to iterate.”

Compared to its Baltic neighbours, Lithuania is doing quite well. According to the data from the local adventure basic affiliation LT VCA, there are 422 startups in the country, employing over 2,400 people. In ten years from 2006 to 2015, Lithuanian startups had raised a total of €165.3 million, compared to €103.3 actor in Latvia and €280.6 actor in Estonia.

The administrator of LT VCA Inga Miliauskien? said that Lithuania’s local ecosystem started to take shape after the crisis of 2008 with  help from the European Union.

“As a result of EU funds abounding into Lithuania, we started to see some of the new local adventure basic funds being structured and alive and operating in the country,” she said.

Friends or rivals?

Although consistently compared to each other in a number of presentations shown at the LOGIN Startup Fair, the Baltic states appear to coact less in the addition industry than one might imagine.

“Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are very similar, but the startup ecosystem in each of them is quite different,” said Laurs. “Estonia is advised to be the golden standard, and historically has very close ties with Scandinavia in accepted and Finland in particular. There’s a lot of Estonians abutting Finnish accelerators and accepting allotment from Scandinavia.

“I would guess that each of the Baltic states has more links, for example, with Scandinavia and Germany apart as against to with each other.”

The accepted acceding is that while the three countries could get calm for assertive projects, they mostly accede each other as affable competitors, as  often happens with neighbours.

Aleksander Tõnnisson, the CEO of Estonia’s BuildIt accelerator that focuses on accouterments startups, said that having a head start isn’t always a good thing.

“I’m afraid that Estonia has accomplished the point where we felt that we were doing very well, and this is where the development stopped,” he explained. “We’re not trying to make things better as actively as we used to. We’re now more anxious about befitting the status quo, and this is absolutely what I don’t see in Lithuania or Latvia.”

Room for improvement

Tõnnisson also named an issue that is archetypal not only of Estonia’s ecosystem, but of all the Baltic startups — a lack of ambition.

“I think that it is carefully tied to being modest,” he said. “Yesterday, an broker from Israel said that people here in the Baltics are too modest and too polite, and afraid of abashing someone. And I think it’s captivation us back a lot.”


Riba?iauskait? agreed on this: “We have to be less modest, we have to be more aggressive, and we have to take the best we can from the alfresco world and accommodate it in our country.”

This, however, could be the easiest botheration to solve, with a number of dispatch programs and educational initiatives active all over the region. What could be much harder for Lithuania is to become adorable for entrepreneurs as a business destination.

“We are a small country, which lost a lot of people — not as a result of a war, but as a result of a banking crisis,” said Miliauskien? from LT VCA. “We’re facing the botheration of alluring talent to our country or abiding them to our country. A lot of young people are coming back to Lithuania, but we are still defective high-skilled workers in assertive positions. Alluring them back to Lithuania is one of the key issues.”

This also explains why the industry players have been so eager in lobbying the idea of the startup visa: countries like Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia could be a huge source of ambitious and abstruse talent for Lithuania to adopt.

Talking about the challenges faced by Lithuania’s startups, Laurs brought up one accurate issue that could be activated to most of the arising markets these days.

“The number one claiming for the whole ecosystem is a lack of people not only willing, but also economically capable, of alive about for free for a allusive amount of time,” he said. “That is alive for half a year to a year, and still blockage 150 percent focused.

“If you look at England or Silicon Valley, one of the affidavit why there are so many startups [now] is because there’s a lot of people who can afford [to work on them]. They have family, accompany [to invest in them], they have savings. Many, many startups are launched by professionals who have accumulation since they have worked for twenty years.”

There’s no banal recipe for analytic these kinds of problems, apart from cat-and-mouse addition few years for more entrepreneurs cashing out and bringing the money back to the ecosystem. This movement is already underway, Vinted’s Janauskas said, even though it’s not accessible from the outside. It’s also safe to say that if Lithuania keeps up the pace, we’ll hear more about its startups real soon.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is accounting and appear apart of TNW.