Illar Kaasik | TechTop companies not only write code, but also handle goods and steel

TechTop companies not only write code, but also handle goods and steel

Illar Kaasik 

Managing Partner, Prudentia Tallinn  

TopTech's 2022 ranking lists 30 Estonian technology companies by value. Ten of them operate in FinTech, eight in B2B SaaS and two in custom software development. However, the TopTech 2022 ranking also includes successful hardware developers, logistics and commercial companies. 

This year's winner of TopTech and therefor Estonia's most valuable technology company is Bolt. The company that serves almost 100 million customers in 45 countries is on a mission to provide an alternative to a private car and offer affordable modes of transportation anywhere in the world. Bolt also actively develops food courier services. The company's easily recognisable branded passenger cars, e-scooters and e-bicycles are very noticeable and have a clear potential to change urban mobility and environmental policies.  

Another TOP-company dedicated to logistics services is Starship. The company's name, reminiscent of the StarTrek movies, embodies heroes on our streets that similarly must overcome various difficulties in summer and winter, delivering goods to its customers. By February 2022, the Starship had delivered 3,000,000 shipments, and in March it raised USD 100 million from investors.  

One Estonian company that is not yet in TopTech is Cleveron Mobility. The company made the Nasdaq Tallinn stock exchange debut in 2022 and its cooperation partners include both Walmart as well as the developer of AuveTech's self-propelled bus. All these companies that offer the aforementioned logistics solutions can change both Estonia and the world and may achieve making Estonia the first country in the world where the transport of goods and people is based on robots or at least takes place on the principles of the sharing economy. 

Another reality is that the history of humanity and technological development has always been linked to wars. What is happening in Ukraine today is likely to accelerate the development of Estonian company Milrem and also increase its value. The self-propelled vehicle platforms developed by the company are of strategic interest to NATO member states, among others. Russia has even gone as far as offering a bounty for those who catch a Milrem vehicle in Ukraine. In 2021, Milrem, developer of innovative robotics solutions for challenging environments, started strategic cooperation with Germany's main producer of combat tanks and systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, which also acquired a 25% stake in Milrem. Milrem does not yet have a place in the ranking list, but it is on its way and moving fast. 

The world is also entering an era in which the use of fossil fuels no longer guarantees the long-term needs of mankind. In connection with this, several world superpowers have set a goal of implementing green turnaround, to which Estonian company Skeleton is making a significant contribution. One of Japan's largest conglomerates, the Japanese Marubeni Corporation, made a €40 million investment in Skeleton's equity in 2021. Since the influential Marubeni Corporation is committed to the rapid development of technologies in the field of electricity, this will provide Skeleton with a good opportunity to enter new markets. The patented technology of Skeleton curved graphene energy storage solutions allow the production of high-capacity batteries with fifty thousand charging cycles, a valuable component in the equipment where the technological process needs to store or consume a significant amount of energy quickly (such as when braking and accelerating a car). Skeleton also started cooperation with the Shell Group for contributing to the renewal of energy solutions for mining machinery. 

MarkIT, a B2B company that has made in the ranking, offers a procurement environment for acquiring office equipment in 40 countries. In an area that initially appears to be traditional and competitive, MarkIT has developed a time- and cost-saving technology product for customers that also replaces most of the staff of the office supplies procurement department. It can be predicted that it is in a company like MarkIT where AI will manage and develop work processes on a large scale. 

However, all these achievements and technological developments would have been impossible without wise and enterprising people from Estonia and from the rest of the world. As of the end of 2021, Bolt employed almost 3,000 people worldwide, while Milrem employs 180 people today. According to the forecasts of the Founder's Society, which brings together Estonian technology companies, 10% of the Estonian workforce will be employed in the tech sector companies in 2030, ie in 8 years' time, and the sector will contribute 30% of the Estonian GDP. Therefore, it is extremely important for all of us that the success story of today's TechTop companies continues in the long-term for the sake of competitiveness of the Estonian economy. This means that there must be a constant inflow of new knowledge- and technology-intensive companies to the market. It could be a good hotbed for our next unicorns. 


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