[ Lithuanian Unicorns] An insatiable hunger to prove their talent drives Lithuanian startups' growth

[ Lithuanian Unicorns] An insatiable hunger to prove their talent drives Lithuanian startups' growth

Published: 29-11-2022 14:34:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 4706 | Tags:

Smashing its records year by year, Lithuania's startup ecosystem has proved that there're no limits to growth. According to Dealroom.co, over the last five years, it has accelerated 16.6 times and is now valued at €10 billion, placing Lithuania as a leader in the CEE region. Tom Okman (Nord Security) and Milda Mitkute (Vinted) – two Lithuanian unicorn founders, say that talents, community, global focus, flexibility, and rising investment inflows are the base of a strong country's startup ecosystem.

Tom Okman, Co-founder, Nord Security: "Our talent pool can successfully compete with professionals from any Fortune 500 company. Their hard work and forward-thinking are gaining valuation – we see increasing interest from foreign investors who find Lithuania's startup ecosystem a perspective platform for investments and business development."

Tom adds that in contrast to other, more established startup ecosystems, Lithuanian specialists have an insatiable hunger to prove their talent. This kind of employee enthusiasm can sometimes be a key success factor in the race against competitors in a startup's business sector.

According to the Lithuanian startups' database by Unicorns.lt and Startup Lithuania, there are 16 000 talents in active Lithuanian startups. This open and willing-to-cooperate community is one of the main reasons for the fast ecosystem's growth, emphasizes T. Okman.

"We have a robust culture of partnership and networking and willing-to-cooperate startup community," says Tom."It allows new startups to gain knowledge or make hard-to-find connections quickly. The bond of our startup community is powerful and lasting – by helping each other to accelerate, we help the ecosystem itself, and it's a win-win situation."

Milda Mitkute, the Co-founder of Vinted, another Lithuanian unicorn, says that over the last 15 years, the startup ecosystem in Lithuania has changed a lot: it has gone from zero to a mature environment that has funding sources, an open startup community, comfortable infrastructure. "Lithuanians have a small market syndrome in a good way. Traditional businesses often think only about the Lithuanian market, while startups' default thinking is about ideas focused on the global market. This is our country's strength," she said.

She also says that Lithuanian startup founders are flexible and brave – they are not afraid to experiment. They are open-minded, listen to feedback, and take advantage of the advice they receive. "The founders probably acquired these qualities because they traveled extensively worldwide after the fall of the USSR. Everyone was passionate about learning about other cultures and their values. Traveling has also shaped people's worldview and work discipline, which is flexible and open."

Roberta Rudokiene, Head of Startup Lithuania, says that Lithuania is rich in investors, business accelerators, government agencies, and technical endeavors. These elements assist the startup community in generating and implementing new ideas. "Of course, we have many other advantages, such as developed infrastructure, highly green cities, harmonious cooperation between businesses, government agencies, strong and active venture capital funds, and Lithuanian Business Angel Network LITBAN. It is also important that the Lithuanian government has its focus on the startup ecosystem in our country – the government will allocate more than 100 million euros for startups in 2023-2027."

Successful startups bring investment, competitive salaries for local talents, foreign attention, and confidence in the local market. All this is especially relevant at this time. In 2021, despite economic uncertainty, Lithuanian startups faced record-breaking years. Their agility and resilience to unpredictability let them attract 2,2 times more investments (€430 million) than previous record years and grew revenue and export by more than 30 percent.