Here are why many people in the world call
Estonia The Nordic Silicon Valley. We have a lot of things to talk on.
1.) It takes just five minutes to start a company in Estonia.
Founding your own company in Estonia takes only five minutes. And you do not have to show up anywhere: a company can be set up online using an electronic ID card. And it literally takes just five minutes, no more. Confirmation is emailed to you. Starting a company is surprisingly cheap too; no one charges you thousands of euros. So any student can start their own company if they wish so.
2.) #Estonianmafia and startups
Estonia is really the land of startups; there are more startup companies per capita here than in any other country in Europe.
The term #estonianmafia was coined by US venture capitalist David McClure in 2011 after having witnessed that among the 20 finalists in the British entrepreneur monitoring programme Seedcamp there were no less than four strong teams from Estonia.
What can you do? With a population of no more than 1.4 million, Estonia is so tiny that you can’t really sell anything here. You just have to make the whole world your target market.
3.) Pocket bank
Bank branches are gradually closing, because there simply is no need for them: 99 per cent of bank transfers are made electronically either on a computer or a mobile phone.
4.) Pay-by-phone parking
In Estonia, no one remembers putting money into parking metres anymore. Everyone uses their mobile phones to pay for parking as it is so convenient! And new smart phones use a GPS system to determine the location of the car and calculate the parking fare.
5.) Online check-in and bus tickets
When taking a flight, it is normal practice to do your check-in at home and print out your own boarding pass. And bus and train tickets are bought online in exactly the same way. After all, it is nice to choose your own seat on the bus!
6.) Webcams in the wild
Estonians have preserved their bond with nature. Therefore, many people connect to a webcam overlooking the nest of a White-tailed Eagle or another one installed on the forest floor in order to watch on their computers a family of wild boar eat or young eagles fly from the nest.
7.) The Internet is a human right in Estonia
A café without free Wi-Fi would bankrupt in Estonia. The Internet is considered a human right in Estonia and it has become standard that the Internet is free of charge in public city spaces (the airport, cafés, restaurants, hotels, libraries, universities, etc.).
And over the last couple of years, free Wi-Fi has extended to intercity buses and trains, too.
According to a study by human rights organisation Freedom House, Estonia ranks second in the world in Internet freedom, with only Ireland ahead of us. Estonia has become a model for free Internet access as a development engine for society, declared by the Freedom on the Net 2013 study.
8.) E-government – fast track to reliable information!
When Estonia regained independence from the USSR in 1991, the infrastructure was in a terrible state of disrepair. The government at the time invested heavily in the introduction of information technology, believing it to be an economic motor for the country.
This was accompanied by another great phenomenon: the emergence of e-government. Today, over 100 public services are available for use and 300 forms can be filled in online.
People can, for example, check the expiry date of their licences and pay parking fines online, and buy prescription medicine at the pharmacy by presenting their ID card.
Businesses can conveniently change their addresses and file reports.
Here are two service that Estonians are particularly fond of:
9.) Online voting
Estonians no longer need to go out to vote, as already since 2005 they are free to vote from their living-room couch.
10.) Electronic income tax return
Already since 2000, income tax returns can be submitted electronically in Estonia, and what’s more, the system automatically adds up your income and calculates the tax paid on it.
Having reviewed the return form, your only concern is to press the SEND button and you are done! It is so convenient that 95 per cent of tax returns are submitted electronically.
11.) European IT Agency
Given Estonians’ enthusiasm for new technologies, it is no wonder that Tallinn was picked as the seat for the EU Agency for Large-Scale Information Systems in 2012. The Agency is charged with managing the second generation Schengen Information System and supporting the management of European immigration policies.
12.) Last but not least: the invention of Skype
Although Skype as a company was founded by a Dane and a Swede, the programming was done in Estonia and even now the company has a large development centre in Tallinn. Skype does not provide work for hundreds of people, but it continues to be a source of national pride for Estonians.