In a galaxy far far away there was a tiny country called Estonia with the hottest startup scene. A shoulder to shoulder community which welcomes people from all over the world to join in. A community which consistently generates new waves of successful startups founded by men and women. A community with diverse IT talent and startups opening up factories. We have the charismatic “grand old men” and the bullish twenty-somethings building multi-billion companies. We have laws adapted to the needs of fast-growth companies and government backed leadership in the ecosystem development. It’s not just marketing. And yes, we even made a movie about it, featuring our former prime minister.
Looking back more than a decade, we pause to wonder how we have achieved this. Almost 1000 startups later, we are making € 700 million in export revenue and contributing close to 3% into the Estonian GDP. In 2010 surely not many of us dared to dream so big. Continuing with the 30% growth rate we will soon be a substantial contributor to the prosperity of the Estonian people.
We just celebrated our achievements at the first of many startup award galas yet to come. The crowd cheered at declarations of success by Ragnar Sass, one of the visionaries of the startup community. But we need failures as well. According to Sten Tamkivi, another visionary with vast global experience in business, we have somehow defied a natural force. Estonia hasn’t seen any big failures for…wait… how long? But failure is an essential part of the learning process. So, we start to discuss how the startup scene might look like ten years from now and continue on back to back even when adjustments need to be made.
To the general public, a startup is an often misunderstood phenomenon, an almost unreal creature. It is not easily defined or obviously fit a model. Its successes are too big to grasp and failures too complicated to follow. To understand, people need to define, and if impossible often dismiss the effort. We make a promise to you, our readers, to make that effort. To bring out the truth and nothing but the truth, in everything that happens, in good or bad, until exit do us part.
Like building a strong community, we too need your shoulder against ours if we were ever to succeed in our mission.
Just remember, to us you are real.
Anari Hagel, foundME.io
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