Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Edvinas Mancas, who is Business Development Manager of Lithuanian startup BatCrab.
Who could foresee Lithuanian economy transformation from a post Soviet industrial era to a very efficient, fast-changing and extremely profitable startup ecosystem?
When Skype was invented in 2003 by a group of enthusiastic Estonian IT entrepreneurs, not many people foreseen the startup boom in Baltic countries and especially in Lithuania. However, the foundations for developing a very efficient, fast-changing and extremely profitable startup ecosystem were already built. Lithuania is one of the top five countries based on internet upload/download speeds in the world.
Moreover, a lot of IT based university programs are offered to people, who are interested to develop their IT skills. Having in mind that Lithuania is a number one country in Europe of people between 20-29, who have a University degree. With great infrastructure, qualified labour force and very competitive wages, Lithuania becomes an interesting option for international companies. That’s how a lot of know-how was introduced to Lithuanians. Plus, Lithuania is a very small country, therefore most of the businesses are orientated to export. Most Lithuanians speak 2-3 foreign languages to make that process more effective.
How it all started?
The first ice breaker – Ilja Laurs and his GetJar platform, which grew from a simple test platform for mobile game developers to a platform, which has 30M unique users and about 100M downloads every month. That was a great example to other young and ambitious Lithuanians.
Few years past and Lithuanian startup scene simply blossomed. Vinted, a platform to sell, buy or exchange clothes, acquired €25M investment. Lithuanian startup MoboFree became one of the biggest social network in all Africa.
From mobile payments to telecommunications, from all kind of social platforms to marketing and mobile tools, startups entered the scene offering innovative and interesting solutions for users world wide.
We are proud to be a part of this Lithuanian movement and offer yet another tool with “Made in Lithuania”. BatCrab allows to upgrade any cell phone to a fully featured business phone system and have all PBX features in your cellphone. No matter what functions you need or where your customers are based, you may add local phone numbers in 60 countries worldwide and get all the calls no matter where you are!
Accelerators in Lithuania
Of course, it would be quite difficult for young entrepreneurs to develop businesses from scratch without any guidance and assistance. Such startup accelerators as StartupHighway helps ambitious teams to achieve goals faster and provides needed resources to succeed.
StartupHighway started operations in Lithuania, but quickly expanded to all Baltics and now they are the biggest business accelerator in east and middle Europe. From mentors to accelerator programs, from introducing to investors to legal consulting and many more they earned a reputation of statrup’s bigger brother – good, but demanding; open minded, but pushing to new limits.
Huge corporations as Barclays offers Barclays Accelerator and many more. Lithuanian education system also invests and promotes entrepreneurship. Most of the universities have smaller or bigger programs, but the most famous so far is Kaunas Technological University program StartupSpace (http://ktu.edu/ivc/en/). Their burning passion for startups and success of the products helped them to unite with lots of IT and technological educational institutions and become a Lithuanian Silicon Valley, still long way to go, but for sure on the right path.
Startup Events in Lithuania
To add Lithuania on the map for other entrepreneurs, LOGIN conference is the most exciting event for all startups and businesses. However, there are plenty of more not so shiny, but nevertheless as effective and efficient as it could be events to meet everyone needs.
You may participate in a weekend event at (Startup Weekend Kaunas) and find a team to develop or even develop a product during a weekend, share ideas, get inspiration and motivation to move forward! Or join a hackathon. lt events to move your company from a dead point and find new members, get offers or join teams with interesting products.
There are plenty of events to meet young Lithuanians and foreign people with real experience in Silicon Valley, San Francisco or Sydney building startups and developing products never heard of before!
Staying Updated on the Lithuanian Startup Scene
Information about new events and programs, success stories and achieved goals are introduced by lots of media channels, starting from huge media corporations adding startup section to teams, dedicated only to startup eco system, such as BZNStart news stream which is so far the best news channel to get information about Lithuania startup scene.
Life always brings us something unusual and unexpected. Just think about it, I am writing you about Lithuania startup eco system, while living in Romania, other European country with huge potential for new startups! I have just completed registration in Bucharest entrepreneurs club via meetup.com and as soon as I have more information about Romanian startup scene, I will be more than glad to share it with you all.
The only thing which is very similar to Lithuania – people are very positive and open minded to new small ventures! It seems everybody is keen to start or at least try the journey full of unbelievable experience and unexpected turns.
Let’s hope that new era, inspired by startups all around the world, will bring effectiveness, ecology and peace to all people!
About the author
Few words about me – a passionate entrepreneur with 5 years experience in telecommunications and business development. Currently glad to be business development manager at BatCrab. You may find me on Twitter @EdvinasM1.