The itch for entrepreneurship is something that never goes away. We’ve all got killer ideas, but a rare few are willing to act on them. And there’s no better way to see if your idea really works than creating a startup. The leap of faith you take will push you outside your comfort zone.
Of course, you’ll have to do a lot of work, but when you’re doing it with passion, it won’t feel like it. There’s high risk and high reward, so you must immediately take care of the location obstacle and get to work.
Now, you might think that remote work will overtake the classical office, and that’s true. But when you’re getting a startup off the ground, it’s usually you with a couple of friends wanting to share a garage, room, or an office where you’ll all be together. Even if you’re going for a completely remote approach, you still need a location where you need to start it.
Plenty of countries have hundreds of laws, tax regulations, and documentation requirements, making it incredibly difficult to embark on your journey. Often, you’re not even allowed to work with the newest technologies. The crypto space is thriving at the moment, and many people who want to pursue blockchain development can’t do it because their counties have banned it.
That’s why a lot of people are looking at Silicon Valley. It’s the top spot you need to be if you want to become the next Facebook, Instagram, Apple, or Google. But times are changing. The Baltic States are home to some of the most popular unicorns in the last decade and nearly 3000 other startups.
How are the Baltics becoming the startup capital of the world?
Ten years ago, most of the world hadn’t even heard of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These three small European countries decided to shift their government programs and encourage a business-friendly environment to create top-tier tech talent. The good word about these places has spread so much that even entrepreneurs from Australia choose to found their companies in these states.
The total population of these three Baltic countries is close to six million people. That’s not a lot compared to places like New York, where more than 8 million people live in a single city. Lithuanians, Estonians, and Latvians think globally from the get-go. They’re small in numbers but make up for it with their ingenuity, business culture, and forward-thinking principles.
One of the best examples is Bolt; a startup considered a rival to Uber and Lyft, created in Estonia. Bolt now has more than 10 million users globally, and the reason it got off the ground so fast is that Uber decided to monopolize only in the United States.
There wasn’t a lot of competition at the time, which caused it to expand rapidly around the globe, and now it’s popular in countries like Nigeria, Canada, and Australia. The potential is immense, and the only thing you need to bring is a good idea and a hardworking attitude.
Why are so many founders moving there?
There are several reasons to move to the Baltic States. First of all, there’s the ease of doing business. No place in the world can compare to trying to broadcast your idea to the European market. Even though there are native languages present, the entirety of the tech talent speaks fluent English, and there are benevolent governmental policies that welcome you with open arms.
The e-services are outstanding, and you’ve got fast internet on top of it. Since only six million people live there, it’s easy to find connections, hire top talent, be hired yourself, get to know other founders, and see whether you can work together. Events happen daily, especially in Europe’s new business capital – Riga.
Now, you can create your startup in these countries without ever setting foot in them. There’s an e-Residency program where you can start and manage a business from a beach in Bali. These countries were the first to adopt remote work during the pandemic, and you can see how digitalization has helped them become more agile in the tech world.
They build fast, fail fast, try again, and succeed. The numbers don’t lie. Estonia currently has over a thousand startups, and they’ve got the highest ratio of unicorn startups per capita in the world. It’s only a matter of time until they overtake Silicon Valley.
Are there any risks?
In places where technology thrives, there’s a massive risk of cyberattacks. In fact, a hack that happened more than a decade ago transformed Estonia into the place it is today. The government wanted to move a memorial from one place to another, prompting fake news, information warfare, and hacks. Their financial and government websites were compromised, forcing them to adapt to this behavior. Now, they’re a cybersecurity paradise.
Since the Baltic States are close to each other, everyone knows the attacks that happened. The lurking fear forced them to be careful online. In terms of physical security, there’s close to zero crime. So, the only thing you need to be cautious about if you decide to move there is the potential hacker sitting at the airport, train station, or café.
YouTube videos show how they can hack a phone connected to public Wi-Fi step by step. If a 15-year-old can do that, imagine what someone who’s spent years learning can do. Therefore, using a VPN for Android or iOS vpn will help you stay safe because even teenagers can compromise your device with as little as half an hour of research.
When creating a startup in the Baltics, try to network as much as possible and work as hard as possible. But never turn off your VPN and antivirus. You never know who you’re exposing your business to.