Baltic startup scene in numbers

Riga just hosted Silicon Valley Comes to the Baltics along with Riga Venture Summit – an initiative for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to cooperate on startups. The excitement is high, but what about the numbers?

As this year’s host of the event, Labs of Latvia took the initiative to gather some data for our common use. For the first time in Baltic history all three countries’ stats are put on the same chart. Data from Estonian Development Fund (Startup Estonia), Altum (Labs of Latvia) and Enterprise Lithuania (Startup Lithuania), as well as crowdsourced community sheets.

Number of startups

The total number in the Baltics is at least 826, growing daily. For a population of just 6.294 million this makes about 13.7 companies for every 100,000 people. The stat is particularly impressive in Estonia with 30.6 companies per 100,000 people: the smallest of the three Baltic states is home to almost half of all Baltic startups.

Alright, we knew this already: Estonia is rivaling Israel, South Korea and Singapore on this worldwide. How about the quality and impact of these companies?

Funding invested in startups

While we do not like when startups think that funding is the most important metric (and it isn’t), the ability to convince strangers to put their money into your business does say something about its quality.

Number of startups that attracted funding is a good approximation for companies with business potential in the region. The Baltics just hit over 100 last year, split up evenly between Latvia (41) and Estonia (38), with somewhat less in Lithuania (23).

The quantity is not all, though. The size of these funding rounds is just as important because it indicates the magnitude of business potential. The total number in the Baltics is €461,7 million, with €173,6 million last year.

Top deals

We have to be fair here. Each country has its heavyweights accountable for the bulk of this cash: Transferwise and AdCash in Estonia, BitFury in Latvia and YPlan, GetJar and Vinted in Lithuania. These Top 6 deals make up € 233,8 million or more than half of all disclosed funding raised to date.

Funding distribution

But how is the other half distributed? It is an important indicator for the potential of big deals in the nearest future. Looking at top 10 deals for each country, we must note whether runners-up are anywhere near the heavyweights.

Estonia is clearly the most mature of the three, showing an even distribution of deals all the way from €15-€4 million, with a long string of €1 million+ deals below the Top 10. Lithuania has produced half of Top 6 deals, however, the next big rounds are notably smaller, with the 10th biggest disclosed investment as low as a €500,000 seed round. Latvia only has one top deal, followed by a slightly longer range of investments above 1 million. Both countries have a long string of seed investments that are expected to raise follow-on funding in 2016.

Number of employees in startups

This indicator is not only important for policy makers pouring money into startup jobs. Number of startup employees is also a good approximation for future founders and investors.

A great deal of Estonian startups still have some Skype money and talent behind them, including the biggest heavyweight from the Baltics – TransferWise .

We only have data for two countries, with Estonia employing double as many startup people than Latvia and Lithuania combined. There are 1.6 startup employees for every 1,000 people in Estonia. With 60.04% of population in working age, the proportion in the actual workforce is even higher.

There is sadly no data for Latvia. The image is just an approximation, gauging it similar to Lithuania based on the similar number of startups in both countries.

Startup events

Events are important for conceiving new ideas, inspiring more people to found startups and helping them find resources – teammates, mentors, funding and other support. At least 640 startup events took place last year in the Baltics.

Latvia had the most startup events last year, with notable role played by its €500,000 government program dedicated to covering up to 50% of budget for startup events in the country.

The per capita stats convey the same information this time – 1.6 events per 100,000 people in Estonia, 1.7 in Latvia and 0.3 in Lithuania.

Startup exits

Exits are important for potential investors to estimate the likelihood of financial returns. They also supply successful founders who then tend to reinvest their cash back into other startups. Estonia has the most exits with the most disclosure. Latvia and Lithuania both have 3 exits, most undisclosed. It is likely that some exits still remain unknown in these countries.

Important: all of this is only the disclosed data. Gathering and analyzing available data is a great start, but we need more to derive accurate insights.

We encourage founders, investors, policy makers and other insiders to update crowdsourced community sheets for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with more information.