Why Estonia promises to be an ideal destination for Indian startups
After failing to draw attention from Indian investors, Indian entrepreneurs Deepak Solanki and Saurabh set up their business in Estonia with the support of accelerator BuildIt. After signing up for Estonia’s Residency Program, the duo registered their firm Velmenni, a startup venture that is developing light fidelity (LiFi) technology, a system that uses LED light bulbs to enable high-speed data transfer across devices. Now, Velmenni services clients in Germany, France and a few Nordic countries through their offices in Tartu and New Delhi. Many Indian startup advisors and investors are advising their entrepreneurs to take advantage of Estonia’s Residency Program to develop their technology products in Estonia, build an international clientele and gain access to the EU market.
How the Residency Program works
The Residency Program allows entrepreneurs to open bank accounts, register a company from abroad and permits them to apply for project grants such as Horizon 2020. An e-Resident can seek assistance from project developers and engineers for their technical and project expertise, as well as gain access to Estonian technology platforms. Since 2014, the Residency Program has approved over 18,000 applications with majority coming from USA, Finland and Russia. However, there are only 630 Indian applicants due to less awareness about the program.
What Estonia offers fledgling startups?
- According to prominent investor Suhas Gopinath, Estonia has an affinity towards tech startups having disruptive ideas. Founder of Startups Club, Vivek Srinivasan believes that Estonia allows pure tech or research driven startups to flourish especially through the Residency program.
- A cost-comparative analysis shows Estonia is more economical than other startup hubs like Singapore, especially for early-stage startups looking for funding.
- With over 400 startups, the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Estonia has produced more successful startups per capita than any other European country.
- Estonia has attracted a steady flow of investors into its startups, including Richard Branson, Peter Thiel, Seedcamp, Matrix Partners and Intel Capital. In 2011, Microsoft recorded the biggest cash deal to buy Skype for more than $ 8 billion.
Why Estonia is favorable to Indian startups?
- Estonia is working on a bilateral program tiled the India-Estonia Startup Exchange, through which 10 Indian startups will get a chance to visit Estonia to develop ICT, smart city solutions and products that could benefit India and the EU.
- Suhas Gopinath, who is also a member of India`s National Expert Advisory Committee on Incubation, Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship, stated that India is working out a deal with Estonia for collaborating with Indian startups to build a smart governance programme for India.
- Estonia has recently allowed 339 startups to hire foreign workers.
- In January 2017, Estonia launched the Startups Visa program which allows foreign entrepreneurs to live and work in Estonia for at least 18 months.