Business-Friendly And Innovation Oriented: The City Of Tallinn

Published on:

Tallinn has home born entrepreneurs. This gives passionate individuals a great incentive to learn the basics and expert tips from the city's entrepreneurs!

The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, is a hidden startup wonderland located in the Northern part of Europe. The Republic of Estonia, a former Soviet Union country, has managed to transform itself from an unknown country with 1.3 million inhabitants into an IT technology development centre of Europe. Thanks to its knowledge-based economy and a startup portfolio of Skype, TransferWise and GrabCAD under its belt, it is one of the most advanced countries in technology around the world.

Estonia, being home to numerous startups, is sarcastically called a startup of its own. Even though Estonia has merely 1.3M+ residents (Tallinn has 400k) and just 24 years of regained independence, it produces advanced technologies. So the IT-conscious President and the Instagramming Prime Minister are just the epitome of the startup-minded locals. The question is – how has Tallinn scaled to top?

Heading To Tallinn

Believe it or not – Tallinn is not only about startups. The tiny capital is known for it’s high number of Michelin-worthy restaurants, medieval Old Town, free Wi-Fi, clean streets, electric cars and awesome people. Tallinn is also not an average startup hub. Firstly, you do not even need to be physically present in order to benefit from all the digital services Estonia offers to the digital nomads, thanks to the e-residency platform. Secondly, Tallinn has the highest number of startups per person in Europe. So what makes this city so attractive to startups and entrepreneurs?

Advantages:

  • Supportive startup culture, loved by the Government of Estonia
  • Lots of startup events powered by an active startup community
  • A majority of world-famous startups (Skype, TransferWise, Fortumo, Pipedrive, GrabCAD, Vitalfields, Erply, Skeleton Technologies, Playtech etc) have offices in Tallinn
  • IT development offices of large corporations are located in Tallinn (Kühne+Nagel, Ericsson, Stora Enso, Statoil etc)
  • Digital identification card for e-residents of Estonia, which you can read more about here
  • Motivated and talented workforce
  • A young country with a youthful attitude
  • Beautiful scenery and medieval architecture mixed with modernism
  • Lot of cafe bars, restaurants and sports activities
  • Short distances and free public transportation for locals
  • High English proficiency of younger generation
  • Low bureaucracy
  • Friendly and beautiful people

Disadvantages:

  • Small market capacity
  • Crime and drug abuse
  • Limited buying power
  • Modest air travel connection
  • Limited English proficiency of older generation
  • Cold winter
  • High prices

#1 Explore Tallinn’s Startup Environment

Tallinn_guide_community

The startup community in Tallinn is active and well-connected. Entrepreneurs in Tallinn can choose from a number of startup events with various topics and networking possibilities. The co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators and events like to co-operate, rather than compete, which says a lot about the positive startup vibe in the city.

Information About Startups News And Events:

There are also lots of event series taking place with the mission of boosting the local startup scene and empowering startup entrepreneurs. The most well-known startup bootcamp Garage48 is now organizing events in countless countries in the Eastern European region, Asia, Africa and even South-America!

  • Garage48 – a series of international start-up hackathons for turning ideas into working prototypes in 48 hours. Garage48 brings together people with different skills to pitch ideas, form teams, and build real products in a creative and fun environment. Over 10 hackathons happen each year in Estonia and abroad to create and spot upcoming startup stars.
  • TechSisters – a community of women and men who want to bring more diversity into the Estonian tech scene. The community consisting of smart and ambitious women in the Estonian startup scene organizes regular networking events and coding classes for girls.
  • Tehnopol Networking Night – a free meet-up series for entrepreneurs, investors, and techies to learn about high-growth technology businesses.
  • Technopolis Business Breakfast – events are designed to offer opportunities to network, share experiences and gain new insights. All managers, specialists, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial spirits eager to obtain new ideas for personal and business growth are welcome to join this event, which provides excellent prospects for learning from the experience of others.

There are of course various conferences and competitions, where startups can showcase their products and services, find partners and investments, plus get some media attention as well.

  • Latitude59 conference – the go-to place for the Nordic and Baltic start-up scene in the summer. The goal of the conference is to bring together innovators and startup entrepreneurs in Tallinn, Estonia to meet angel investors, VC’s and those supporting the global expansion of companies.
  • Estonian ICT week – is the single most eventful week in the center of the sizzling Nordic-Baltic ICT powerhouse, illuminating innovative ideas connecting bright minds. Estonian ICT Week brings together entrepreneurs, investors, IT professionals, government leaders and policy makers from all over the world.
  • Ajujaht TV show – is the largest competition of business ideas in Estonia that was initiated by Enterprise Estonia in 2007.

#2 Choose The Best Co-working Space In Tallinn

Tallinn_guide_coworking

People in Tallinn are hard-working and like to spend time in co-working spaces, even though it is so easy for them to work at home. However, Tallinners believe in collaboration, communication and sharing their know-how.

  • Garage48 HUB in Tallinn – established in 2010 by the founders of Garage48, this community led co-working space in central Tallinn is unique in its ability to gather top brains and inspire with its funky interior design! It is perfect for startups, creative, tech and entrepreneurial people from Tallinn, Estonia and beyond. Naturally, it’s all happening in English.
  • Coworking Space Tallinn– a coworking space for creatives located in the heart of Tallinn.
  • Töökoht – a private workplace, where you can feel comfortable the whole day. You can use our conference room to hold meetings, negotiate with your partners or even hold an online meeting.
  • Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol – the office, laboratory and production spaces in Tehnopol provide companies with excellent and flexible conditions to start operating in close proximity to Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian IT College.
  • Coffice – a co-working space mixed with café only for 5€, just come in and stop by.

Tallinn is a very small city with only 400 000 inhabitants, which means it wouldn’t be very business-wise to create too many coworking spaces.

Compared to other European cities Tallinn is also very much led by entrepreneurs, meaning we as Estonians as a whole rely very little on our Government. Indeed, all the grants and support from the Government side is very low and the support is more moral, than financial. Having little governmental aid is probably why we have so many startups to begin with, because people know they can only rely on themselves.

#3 Prepare Your Budget In Tallinn

Tallinn_guide_financing.

Estonia puts a lot of effort in providing funding and growth possibilities for local startups. Even though Estonia itself is a small market and Tallinn cannot compete with metropolitan cities like London and Berlin, it does offer some unique programs and opportunities.

Crowdfunding Platforms:

  • Fundwise – a new crowdfunding platform for companies.
  • Hooandja – crowdfunding platform where great ideas can find support.

Accelerator Programs:

  • StartupWiseGuys – is the leading B2B, SaaS accelerator in Europe. From our hub in Tallinn, Estonia, we connect innovative and ambitious startups from around the world with experts from Europe and US. Founded in 2012 by angel investors and VC fund SmartCap, StartupWiseGuys has run 5 programs and over 40 companies have been accelerated.
  • Elevaator Startup Labs – a startup lab created by three leading agencies in Estonia: Age McCann, Division, ADM Interactive. The goal is to mentor and invest in startups to share in the profits of becoming a successful company.
  • Buildit – an accelerator for new global success stories in hardware, creative industries and health-tech. During the 3rd month mentoring program teams can use their prototyping facilities, enjoy free open office space at Tartu Science Park and can test their product with end-users in a Living Lab setting. Buildit offers €25,000 investment to their startups in exchange for 12% shares of their company. Teams can also go for €20,000 investment in return for 9% or choose €15,000 for 6%.

Incubators:

  • UT Ideelabor – a laboratory environment that offers students the opportunity to find exciting and innovative solutions to problems, and implement projects.
  • Tehnopol Science Incubator – invests up to 10,000€ worth of expertise to start-up companies in one year to find the first seed investment or reach export markets. Our main focus areas are ICT, green- and health technologies.

Government Grants:

  • Enterprise Estonia (EAS) – offers different support possibilities and solutions to help a new entrepreneur kick-start their business. In supporting starting businesses, Enterprise Estonia considers the following objectives: more starting entrepreneurs, a better survival rate for businesses and a larger number of fast-growing companies.
  • Estonian Development Fund – a state-run public institution, the aim of which is to support the development of the Estonian economy. To achieve this, the company invests in innovative Estonian companies and support the development of such companies.

Angel Investors:

  • EstBAN – Estonian Business Angels Network, established in late 2012, is an umbrella organization for business angels and business angel groups seeking investment opportunities in Estonia and its neighbouring regions with an aim to grow the quantity and quality of local seed stage investments.

#4 Look For Additional Advice In Tallinn

Tallinn_mentors

Estonia has definitely one of the most competitive tax system in Europe with a very transparent system and entrepreneur-friendly structure.

Read more about Estonia’s tax system at Estonian Investment Agency website.

_______________

Last updated: August 25th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

Sharing is caring, so please share this post. Thank you!