Powerful steps towards the end of a challenging year

With offering nearly 10 000 jobs and 134M EUR paid in employment taxes accompanied by 1,5B EUR turnover generated and 1,2B EUR investments raised, the Estonian startup sector is stepping towards the end of 2022 strong with steady growth. Let’s dig deeper into the first three quarters of 2022 in the Estonian startup scene.



As of today, the Estonian Startup Database is home to 1449 startups. So far, 75 new startups created in 2022 have found their way into the database. The number of startups that have been active for at least five years is 418 (29% of the startups in the Estonian Startup Database). The largest sector in terms of active startups is Business software & HR with 256 active companies (18% of all startups in the Estonian Startup Database), followed by FinTech with 197 active startups (13%) and Consumer products & services with 155 active companies (11%). You can read more about Estonian startup sectors on our website.

Employment

According to the statistics from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board Estonian startups employed 9857 people locally at the end of the third quarter of 2022. A year ago, the employee count was at 7704, meaning the growth in one year has been 28%. The biggest employers among Estonian startups are Wise (1611 employees), Bolt (1251 employees), Swappie (530 employees), Veriff (427 employees) and Monese (225 employees). Altogether, Estonian startups have paid 134M EUR in employment taxes during 2022, which is 48% higher than at the same time last year. The biggest contributors among startups are Bolt (22,6M EUR), followed by Wise (17,7M EUR), Veriff (6M EUR), Starship Technologies (3,8M EUR) and Monese (2,9M EUR).

Based on Estonian Tax and Customs Board statistics, the employee count in Estonian startups constitutes 1,4% of the size of the workforce in Estonia at the end of the third quarter of 2022 (684 890 employees) and 2,6% of employment taxes paid so far in 2022 (5B EUR).

Eesti Pank took a look at employment in Estonian startups at the doorstep of an upturn in the rate of interest. According to their Labour Market Review 2/2022 (pages 9-11, at the moment available only in Estonian), looking at year-over-year comparisons, the employment rate in startups increased also during the Covid-19 pandemic and with increased investments into startups during 2022 the rate of employment continues to grow. Also, the proportion and importance of startups in the Information and Communications field of activity (ICT) have enlarged. In Q1 2020 startup workforce was 10,6% of the workforce in ICT and Q2 2022 already 15% (61% of Estonian startups are active in the field of ICT). During the first two quarters of 2022, growth in employment in startups was around +1400 employees. Startup Visa continues to play a significant role in hiring the labour force from abroad, as one-third of these employees were hired using Startup Visa.

Experts from Eesti Pank point out the global trends - investments in startups have decreased and the number of layoffs/leaving from startups has also started to grow. Although some cautionary signs of changes are also visible in the Estonian startup sector (for example increase in startups where the employee count has slowed down or decreased), the overall demand for labour in the ICT field is high and the global trends of decreasing workforce in startups are not visible at the moment.

Funding & Exits

Based on the crowdsourced database and the Estonian Startup Database, Estonian startups have signed 61 funding deals for 1,2B EUR in the first 9 months of 2022 with 40 deals valued at more than a million euros. Compared to the same time in 2021, we can see a rise in funding figures (870M EUR and 66 deals at the end of Q3 in 2021). Investment figures are heavily affected by Bolt's massive investment round in January (628 M EUR). On top of that, several other Estonian startups have also raised large investments in 2022 so far. Veriff (89M EUR), Starship Technologies (87,4M EUR), Ready Player Me (Wolf3D) (55,1M EUR) and Glia (40,9M EUR). Please note that Skeleton Technologies’ investment (37,6M EUR) was not included in the calculation of total numbers as Skeleton Technologies is already a matured startup. The last quarter of the year has also started well as October has brought good news with 3Commas (37M EUR) and Katana MRP (36M EUR) big investments, supplemented by smaller rounds.


During the first 9 months of the year, we have already seen five acquisitions in the ecosystem. In March 2022, FinTech startup EveryPay, a platform for receiving payments, was acquired by LHV Group. In May 2022, Stebby (formerly SportID), the largest wellness service marketplace in the Baltics, announced an exit from the Funderbeam platform via a management buyout and investment by Livonia Partners. Also in May, Supervaisor, building technology to make streets safer with AI and computer vision, was acquired by Motive Technologies. In August 2022, GuestJoy, creating customer relationship management tools for hotels, was acquired by SiteMinder. In September 2022, Brainbase, providing brand licensing management software to global licensing businesses worldwide, was acquired by Jonas Software. In addition, 11 startups have reached maturity so far in 2022: DreamApply, OpenNode, TapTapSoft, Unified Strike, LabToWellness, sliptree, Linnworks, Brightspark, Adcash, Erplybooks and Enetic.


Turnover

Based on the quarterly data from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board, at the end of Q3 2022, Estonian startups generated 1,5B EUR in turnover, which is a 64% increase compared to the same period in 2021 (927,2M EUR). Comparing startups, the biggest turnovers were generated by Bolt (775,3M EUR) with a bit more than half of the turnover in the sector(!), Veriff (50,5M EUR), Swappie (47,6M EUR), Comodule (27,8M EUR), Starship Technologies (24,6M EUR). Turnover generated by Estonian startups constitutes 1,8% of the turnover generated by Estonian enterprises so far in 2022 (86B EUR).
Please note, turnover data is published based on the quarterly data from the Estonian Tax and Customs Board and therefore is not comparable with companies’ financial year annual reports data.


Estonian Startup Visa

Estonian Startup Visa continues to be an important tool for startups in the demand for talent. At the end of Q3 in 2022, 19% of the startups in the Estonian Startups Database were founded thanks to the Estonian Startup Visa and 21% of startups have used Startup Status for hiring talent. According to the Estonian Tax and Customs Board statistics, companies that had the Startup Status for hiring talent employed a total of 6870 people at the end of Q3 2022. In particular, during the 9 months of 2022 startups that used Startup Visa for employment paid a total of 96M EUR worth of employment taxes and generated 1,2B EUR in turnover. Startups founded by foreign founders using Startup Visa employed 411 people and paid 5,5M EUR worth of employment taxes with 59M EUR turnover for the same period.


Eyes on DeepTech startups

Q3 has summed up strong support to develop the DeepTech sector and repeat the success story of Estonian startups also in this field. Estonia has earned a leading role to expand with NATO innovation accelerator DIANA and participates in the contributing NATO innovation investment fund of 1B EUR with all 22 members. Future will evaluate the impact, but Q3 has tied the know for further evolvement. Currently, DeepTech startups cover 17,7M EUR in employment taxes paid with 90M EUR turnover and employ 1430 people, about 15% of all startup sector employees. In the Estonian Startup Database you can now also filter startups by DeepTech tag to get a better overview of Estonian startups solving complex problems by creating innovative technologies.


To sum it up, the first 3 quarters of 2022 have been another challenge for the startup sector and a test of the balancing skills for all. Yet the delivered growth in subsequent fields like employment taxes paid, funding deals and general turnover show startup sectors' resilience and alteration well arranged. Let's keep strong and move forth together!




Startup Estonia's program is financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Sources: Startup Estonia, Statistics Estonia, Estonian Tax and Customs Board, Estonian Startup Database, Funding of Estonian Tech Startups Eesti Päevaleht, FoundME, Tehnopol, #estonianmafia
Data crunched bySigne Reinumägi (Startup Estonia)
The blog post was written by: Ettie Mikita & Signe Reinumägi (both from Startup Estonia)


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