Despite having a population of just 1,300,000 – just a sixth the size of London’s – the tiny Nordic country of Estonia has more business start-ups per head than any other country in Europe. So what can aspiring British entrepreneurs learn from their successful counterparts to the North?
The newly found confidence of young Estonian entrepreneurs is backed up by start-up accelerators and venture capitalists in London and Silicon Valley. They have been paying constant attention to a country that keeps on delivering good, successful and reliable start-up teams with really high performance and great ideas.
Indeed, it was the US venture capitalist Dave McClure who introduced the term “Estonian mafia” (or #estonianmafia as it’s known on Twitter) at the introductory day of British micro-seed investment fund and mentoring program Seedcamp in September 2011. This happened after he realised that amongst the 20 final contenders, there were no fewer than four very strong Estonian teams.
Jon Bradford, the co-founder of British start-up accelerator Springboard, has the same impression: “In each incubation batch we’ve had an Estonian start-up company. I started to wonder what was going on!”
So what is going on? And what can start-up companies closer to home learn from the Estonian way of starting a business?
Here are few rules that RBS Business Sense magazine has recommended to learn from Estonian experience.
Young Estonian entrepreneurs largely agree on the four key reasons behind their global approach.
1. Use adversity to develop your business
Estonian entrepreneurs pride themselves on the ability to get on with things and be inventive whatever the conditions. There is a pride in being sensible with money, and this means they can live modestly while they invest time in developing their business.
2. Learn from others’ success stories
Even this philosophy of learning from a successful mentor company was taken from closely observing neighbouring Finland – Estonia’s key commercial, cultural and political partner. In Finland, many start-ups picked up strategic tips, expertise and skills from Nokia, the great Finnish success story of the 1990s and 2000s. Indeed, in Skype, Estonian commentators noted that they had finally “found their own Nokia”.
3. Think big right from the beginning
"It’s not about manpower, it’s about finding creative, effective and innovative solutions to a problem. Being small is not a disadvantage, it just means that you need to think about exporting products right from the beginning," says former head of Skype Estonia Sten Tammkivi.
4. Know how to network
There is a rule that when looking for an investment; the money must be accompanied by competence – and by competence we mean in the field they are launching in. As well as this, and perhaps even more importantly, they must have contacts.
Read full article and get more tips from here.
Written by Silver Tambur / RBS Business Sense