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Archive for September, 2017

Excedea OÜ

Excedea OÜ offers business consultations and helps realising international expansion projects on the developing markets of Eastern Europe and Asia. Their services include project planning, financing and application.

A client of the company that is dedicated to manufacturing wiring systems for trucks and electronics industry was interested in investing to the Serbian market and in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the network found a consultation company from Belgrade who helped with market research and other necessary tasks in 2013. “When the Serbian production facility is launched, our client is planning to create approximately 1,500 jobs within three years and for Excedea this means a positive financial impact (increased turnover).”

Intel Capital

Intel Capital together with the USA venture capitalists Greycroft Partners bought a part of the Tartu company Fortumo that offers mobile payments. The transaction value is approximately one million euros.

“The cooperation with Intel Capital and Greycroft allows us realising our growth plans faster, and consider strategic partnerships as well as acquisition of other companies,” said head of Fortumo Rain Rannu.

“Involving capital from the USA does not mean that the company will move from Estonia, instead, it means that more jobs are created in Estonia. Currently Fortumo employs 40 people in Tartu. By the end of the year we hope to expand to 60 people. The main office and management will remain in Tartu,” added Rannu.

The new investors have minority ownership in Fortumo and the Tartu mobile services company Mobi Solutions will still remain the largest shareholder. Additionally, the key employees of the company have a holding in Fortumo.

Fortumo’s service allows payment for digital services with mobile invoices without having to use a bank card. Fortumo has mobile operator connections in 80 countries with 300 mobile operators. The mobile payments are available for 4 billion people worldwide.

“Mobile payments have immense potential and Fortumo has all the possibilities to profit from the fast-growing market of mobile operator-based payments market,” said Marcin Hejka, CEO of Intel Capital’s Central and Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African Region.

Additionally, Fortumo has concluded direct contracts with two of the world’s largest telecommunication groups Vodafone and China Mobile. Fortumo’s client portfolio, which previously included the creator of Angry Birds, Rovio, now includes well-known game developers Gameloft, Vostu and Zeptolab (Cut the Rope). In January, Fortumo started cooperation with Microsoft for popularising the in-app payments on Windows 8 platform.

Excedea OÜ

Excedea OÜ offers business consultations and helps realising international expansion projects on the developing markets of Eastern Europe and Asia. Their services include project planning, financing and application.

A client of the company that is dedicated to manufacturing wiring systems for trucks and electronics industry was interested in investing to the Serbian market and in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the network found a consultation company from Belgrade who helped with market research and other necessary tasks in 2013. “When the Serbian production facility is launched, our client is planning to create approximately 1,500 jobs within three years and for Excedea this means a positive financial impact (increased turnover).”

NGO Tartu Regiooni Energiaagentuur

NGO Tartu Regiooni Energiaagentuur (TREA) was founded in 2009 with the aim of facilitating sustainable energy and energy management in the region. The agency is focused on energy management promotion and the key problems of modern-day energy sector: energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy. TREA offers services and consultations related to the abovementioned topics for the clients of both public and private sector and is active in various international networks with the aim of exchange of experience.

The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Energy Agency in Rostock, Germany was searching for cooperation partners through the network in order to start various projects in the field of energy saving. Thanks to the contacts obtained via Tartu Science Park, there was an idea and opportunity in 2013 to apply for funding from the Intelligent Energy Europe programme for a project, which had to do with energy efficient renovation opportunities of old buildings.

“We are constantly observing different financing programs of the European Union and will continue our cooperation with our German partners in order to bring good thoughts and experience to Estonia to help us further in the fields of sustainable energy and energy efficiency.”

Agri Trading Company AS

“Whenever we need to establish new relations abroad and we have specified the respective target group, it is always good to ask for help from the EEN network while performing our own searches. Yes, we can consider the cooperation a success. The respective foreign partner sorts the potential partners out. We have never relied on that help alone, but use it as a supportive measure. However, it is good to have the confidence that these companies are reliable. The communication is very professional and personal.”

Agri Trading Company AS is a marketer of food and feed grains, oil seeds, vegetables, herbs and other agricultural produce as well as feed components received as a result of their processing since the year 2000.

The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry helped the company, through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in finding buyers for organic grains and agricultural produce wholesale companies in Germany in order to sell them oats, rye, barley, food wheat, food rye, potato etc. In February 2014, the companies met at the organic fair in Nuremberg, where a cooperation agreement was signed. The contact that was found (P. Krücken Organic GmbH) is trading in organic raw materials and grains in Mannheim, Germany and has purchased several hundred tons of grains from the Estonian company, and the cooperation continues.

The company was also looking for larger sellers of corn, rape-seed cake, and rape-seed pulp from Poland. From Estonia, their request was sent to Poland through the network. In Poland the request was uploaded to the local Enterprise Europe Network cooperation offers database. Through the database the company found a cooperation from Poland, the Estonian and Polish companies met and signed a cooperation agreement on 31 March 2014.

Cista AS

Packaging producer Cista AS from Põlvamaa is a company founded in 1992 that produces packaging from corrugated paperboard, carton and paper in South Estonia. Cista participated in the contact visit to Sweden, which took place on 27-29 October 2014. The visit was a success. Vahur Käärik, CEO of Cista AS was very satisfied with the organisational part of the visit. In Käärik’s opinion, the did not rush to Sweden, but already had certain experience. A Swedish company who already has experience with Estonia, decided to cooperate with Cista. A cooperation agreement was concluded with Swedish Hammarprodukter AB that is now purchasing corrugated paperboard packaging from Cista AS.

In addition to the regular and traditional packaging, Cista AS has also created a smart packaging, which is user friendly and innovative. The modern technological solutions allow placing the product information that used to be on paper into the cloud, which is all thanks to the NFC technology. An NFC-supported mobile phone should be placed on the marking on the packaging and it allows reading the material saved in the cloud. The smart packaging also allows listening to the product information – it is mainly meant for blind customers. Unfortunately, the smart packaging has not become as popular yet. It seems that Cista is ahead of time with their idea. In Käärik’s opinion, the NFC support and technology are still picking up the momentum.

Maris Gilden

Estonian capital based Maris Gilden AS that is located in Tartu is a sweets manufacturer known for its biscuits, sweets and breakfast cereal pillows. The company sells products under popular brands such as Väike Väänik, Kass Artur’s toffee balls, Kiisukommid etc.

Andre Sevastjanov, marketing and sales manager of Maris Gilden AS participated in the contact meetings event Tour d’Europe aimed at the food sector, which was organised by the contact network Enterprise Europe Network and took place in Rotterdam on 5 November 2015. During the meetings, wholesale and retail sellers from Belgium and Holland were looking for food and beverage manufacturers from Europe, including Estonia.

A cooperation agreement was concluded and the Dutch company Bommels Conserven supplemented its product portfolio with the innovative What the Fruit? fruit-chocolate sweets and bread snacks of the Estonian company.

Andre Sevastjanov considers this format of contact visits to be good and efficient, and recommends it to others.

Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ

Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ is a house factory based on Estonian capital. They are specialised in manufacturing tailor-made energy efficient, timber frame element houses and timer frame façade solutions.

An eight-member delegation of Estonian entrepreneurs participated in the contact visit to Sweden organised by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 27-29 October 2014. The business seminar and bilateral meetings with Swedish companies organised within the framework of the visit took place in the Borlänge and Falun cities of the Dalarna region. Oliver Immato, sales manager of Timbeco Woodhouse OÜ was among the participants of the visit and got a useful business contact from Falun municipality.

“Normally we do not have anything to offer to municipalities and it is difficult, if not impossible to qualify for their procurements. It was different with Falun. As a result of various things aligning and a huge effort, we were able to participate in their procurement and win it. Last year we supplied a senior residence to Falun and continuing in that wind, we started with the construction of a kindergarten. The senior residence has become a very important reference for us and thanks to that we have geared up our activities on the Swedish market. I do not know how the other companies that participated in the trip have done, but I think that our achievement alone was worth organising the entire event.”


Solving a personal problem brought success

Do you believe that technology can speed up language learning? If no, you have a good reason to change your mind. Estonian particle physicist Mait Müntel, who used to work at the European Organization for Nuclear Research and was a part of the team that discovered the Higgs boson, created a new programme Lingvist, which aims to make language learning significantly faster.

Solving a problem lead to creating a company

For years, Mait had been living and working in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and he had been meaning to learn the local language. The existing textbooks and web-based study environments were too slow and did not have the vocabulary he needed in this day to day life.

Having thought a little about how an efficient language programme might work, he thought of using methods physicists applied for finding the boson, and created the prototype for language learning programme, which he then used to teach himself French. Believe it or not, but after using the prototype he developed himself for about 200 hours to teach himself French, Mait took a high school level exam in French and passed it with an above average result.

The uniqueness of the programme is that the system combines statistical analysis of language and mathematical optimisation of the study process. The programme takes into account the existing knowledge of the learner, maps the learner’s memory and decides in real time, what the person should learn next in order to gain as much additional value as possible.

By now, Mait’s prototype has grown into a company called Lingvist, the team of which includes more than 40 people dedicated to accelerating language learning.

Help is within reach

To facilitate Lingvist’s growth, the company needed financing, and so the team came across the European Union Horizon 2020 project.

Lingvist is a company that brings together language specialists, data scientists and top developers – all for the purpose of harnessing the newest developments of technology and science for the benefit of language learning. As such, it qualifies well for the European Union research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

However, applying for this funding is rather complicated, due to which the company started to look for a partner who would have the know-how of applying for a project. This is how Lingvist found one of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Estonia’s partners Invent Baltics.

In the opinion of the company, the approach of the EEN advisors was sympathetic, practical and professional. Together they prepared a project application, which in the end was successful and received funding from H2020.

The H2020 projects last for several years and the progress of activities must be reported to the European Commission on a quarterly basis. Any kind of reporting is quite an effort for a start-up and Invent Baltics was of great help for the company in doing that. They gave the company the chance to dedicate themselves to the substantial work and helped communicating the success and problems efficiently to the Commission.

Today, Lingvist can be used to learn 16 different language courses and thanks to the funding of H2020 as well as technological developments of Lingvist, approximately one million people in the world have had the opportunity to speed up their language learning.


Business practices and culture

General Behaviour
In general, Estonians are reserved people. Expect Estonians to have the typical Northern European-sized interpersonal space bubble – about an arm’s length between people in business situations, whether standing or seated. Estonian jokes are for the most part ironical and disguised. It’s not recommendable to use the term Baltic province, as Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians are three culturally and historically different nations.

Negotiating Behaviour
The mentality of Estonians is combined with strong scepticism. That is the reason why Estonian businessmen might need days to mull over and analyse a problem. Indeed, an Estonian does not like feeling rushed. Thus, negotiating an agreement is likely to take longer than it would for example in Western Europe. The key to succeed in doing business with Estonians is politeness combined with the competence. Shaking hands is common.

Women in Business
Estonian women have always considered themselves equal partners with men. Women are respected and they have the same rights as men. Women in Estonia occupy almost every profession in the work force and they are represented in the government as well.

Names and Titles
When meeting an Estonian for the first time, it is proper to address them by using their professional title, not only by their first name. In regular business the use of titles is neither common nor important. You should address Estonians using the last names with mister and miss. Business cards are always exchanged with everybody, so make sure you carry enough with you.

Business Clothing
Business suit with a tie will serve well for men, and women often wear a skirt and blouse or pantsuits. Estonians dress more formally in restaurants, when going to a concert or theatre, or even when visiting friends. If travelling during the winter months, be sure to pack warmer clothing for the changing weather. In winter it sometimes gets very cold.

Business Entertaining
A written invitation for business dinner would normally be sent already one or two weeks before the dinner, a private invitation usually at a shorter notice. The majority of business entertainment is still held in restaurants.

Remember to show up punctually. When going to meet your partners in a restaurant for business dinner, it is not a custom to bring something along. At a more official business dinner top management usually sits on the opposite sides, as they want to have an eye contact with each other.

  • Shaking hands is common.
  • Deriving from strong Scandinavian values, undue physical contact is unnecessary.
  • Punctuality is important in Estonian business.
  • Discussions may start with weather, but always end with business or politics. Personal life should not be discussed.
  • Although at first glance people may seem reserved and not talkative at all, they are actually very friendly. The reserve and shyness will melt away once you try and talk to the people.
  • Jokes are self-ironic and sarcastic.
  • Interrupting conversations is very impolite, hence long pauses in conversations are common as the Estonian mentality is combined with scepticism, thus rushing through negotiations is not common – completing negotiations might take longer than in Western Europe, during negotiations honesty and forthrightness are well respected.
  • Combine politeness with competence and you are on your way to success in Estonia.
  • A number of people in Estonia speak English, but also Finnish, German, and Russian.
  • Estonians value their language and culture. They are always very delighted when foreigners know something about it as well.