Estonia is the 132nd-smallest country in the world by land mass, yet it produces more start-ups per head of population than any other country in Europe. It has a population the size of Copenhagen but has one of the world’s most advanced e-governments.
What is it about this former Soviet state, with an obscure language and unenviable weather, that produces so many start-ups?
Of the 20 finalists in January’s Seedcamp, an entrepreneur-mentoring program, four were Estonian—including the eventual winner, GrabCAD, a social network for engineers which has 10% of the world’s mechanical engineers registered.
According to Antti Vilpponen, CEO and cofounder of ArcticStartup, a site that follows entrepreneurship in the region, Estonia has three things in its favor: political leadership, the success of Skype, and its culture.
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