Playing a good April Fools prank has been always highly esteemed in Estonia. But when Janar Merilo and his team at Thorgate thought of packaging their digital homeland as a service for April 1 they did not expect the outcome.
It took 3-4 days of work for the digital product agency to build the portal countryOS.com – a one-stop cloud offering for country as a service – and align a number of influencers to play along.
We at ArcticStartup were chipping in and were the first to break the story on the morning of April 1.
In recap, on April 1 Estonia launched its country management software platform for other states, enabling them to benefit from the services like three-minute-tax-declaration or e-voting, which are in use in the most digital nation in the world. The new service will be priced per user, raising costs for larger countries like the United States or China, but the potential savings are enormous.
The audience appreciated the story.
— Lassi Valkama (@Lasoli) April 1, 2016
— Tomáš Vestenický (@tmvst) April 1, 2016
— Hervé Cuviliez (@hervecuviliez) April 2, 2016
In a few days, CountryOS –site got more than 40 000 unique visitors, and it was trending in ProductHunt, Hackernews and Reddit.
“Those who went for the joke, don’t worry, this was not far from the real truth – the real CountryOS will be available sooner than you can imagine,” said Raido Pikkar, head of Thorgate Ventures, the agency’s investment arm.
Yes, more than 2,000 people signed up their countries to run the software and a number of investors offered money to launch the service.
“It shows well that people and countries would be ready to use such service already today – there are no technical problems to make it, the only questions is which state would be able to implement it in their processes,” Pikkar said.
So it is just a question of time before Thorgate or someone else builds it.
okay the CountryOS joke is brilliant https://t.co/dkle7Ues7h
— Riles (@rileytestut) April 4, 2016
— Stelian Nenkov (@snenkov) April 1, 2016