Adam Rang’s Estonia digest, 2 May 2019: A new government

Estonian news, investment analysis and events for e-residents living around the world.

  • A new government, the same e-Residency policy
  • E-Residency is in fashion
  • Estonian and Russian leaders meet in Moscow
  • Estonia is the 13th best place to build a startup
  • E-residents prepare to declare their independence
  • Recommended viewing
  • Upcoming events

A new government, the same e-Residency policy

Estonia finally has a new government following elections that took place in March (with a world record online voter turnout of 44%). Jüri Ratas from the Centre Party remains Prime Minister and his party is now joined by conservative coalition partners from Isamaa and EKRE, a controversial party that represents the most sceptical views in Estonia towards digitisation and foreigners. This controversy has sparked a counter movement in Estonia called Kõigi Eesti (‘everyone’s Estonia’).

E-Residency is in fashion

The sweatshirt worn by President Kaljulaid during the Parliamentary ceremony was made by an Estonian fashion brand called Muhoov. You can actually buy one for yourself here.

Estonian and Russian leaders meet in Moscow

President Kaljulaid travelled to Moscow last month to attend the reopening of Estonia’s oldest Embassy following its renovation. She also used the opportunity to propose a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was met with some surprise and criticism by politicians in Estonia.

Estonia is the 13th best place to build a startup

The 2019 Startup Ecosystem Rankings has placed Estonia as the 13th best place in the world to build a startup. The comprehensive report summarises very well why a vibrant business ecosystem like ours is essential for a country’s prosperity and security. Government has a key role in stimulating this, they write, but also has to encourage the private sector to take the lead and build its own ecosystem.

E-residents prepare to declare their independence

A group of e-residents have revealed that they are planning to launch their own business chamber to represent the e-resident community and help them do more business with Estonia and each other.

Recommended viewing

Here are some of the most interesting articles and videos about Estonia and e-Residency in English.

  • Forbes caught up with e-Residency Managing Director Ott Vatter and discussed the future of the programme with him. Check out the report here: Estonia’s E-Residency Contributed €14M To Its Economy — ‘E-Residency 2.0 Will Be A True Forerunner’.
  • The New York Times has explored the rise of Estonian startup Taxify in article that gives a fascinating insight into the war of attrition between taxi apps around the world, which are subsidising your journeys in the hope of dominating the industry. Read why ‘This Estonian Start-Up Has Become a Thorn in Uber’s Side’.
  • British travel show Travelman has just broadcast their latest episode ‘48 hours in Tallinn’ in which comedian Richard Ayoade is joined by DJ Alice Levine to explore the Estonian capital. They give some good ideas, although the episode is filmed during winter when there wasn’t any snow here so Tallinn doesn’t look its prettiest. If the first link doesn’t work for you, you can also watch the full episode here.
  • If you want more ideas then the Guardian has also just published ‘10 of the best things to do in Tallinn’s Kalamaja district’. A short stroll from Tallinn’s Old Town, Kalamaja is a former fishing community that was industrialised under Tsarist and later Soviet rule. It now makes the headlines for being a vibrant creative hub and one of Europe’s hippest (and most instagrammable) neighbourhoods, exemplifying Estonia’s rapid development in recent years.
  • I noticed one problem with that Guardian article above though. They didn’t mention any of the saunas in Kalamaja, which is a shame because there are few better ways to understand Estonia than breathing in some leil (sauna steam) and some of the most interesting ones are located in that area. So here’s my own follow-up article, ‘the best saunas to visit in Tallinn’s Kalamaja district’.
  • Speaking of Kalamaja, the popular creative hub there called Telliskivi has just celebrated its tenth birthday. These once abandoned factories have been a powerful driving force behind the area’s regeneration. You can learn more about Telliskivi at 10 years old here and also watch this discussion about living in Estonia as an expat, which was organised by Estonishing Evenings as part of the celebrations.
  • Estonishing Evenings is a series of events provided by Estonian World, an English online magazine about Estonia with a liberal and international outlook. They have raised their concerns about the new political climate in Estonia and doubled down on their commitment to press freedom. They’ve just published ‘Estonian World is not for turning’.
  • For an alternative perspective on the debate around freedom of speech in Estonia (and some thoughts on people like me who comment about the country in English), Estonia’s public service broadcaster ERR has published this opinion article on its English online portal arguing that the freedom of the press isn’t under attack.
  • This one is a little older, but in case you missed it, TL:DR News published this mini-documentary below in March about e-Residency. It’s created from a UK perspective, but it does a great and balanced job of exploring the main issues around the programme. You’ll also see me in it!
  • I’m a big fan of the Planet Money podcast from America’s National Public Radio (NPR). Their latest episode explores why Coke remained 5 cents per bottle for a staggering 70 years, despite inflation, competition, recessions and global turmoil. It’s a fascinating story that involves bad contracts and Coke going into battle against its own distributors. Amazingly, these business mishaps played a huge role in helping Coke achieve world domination in the soda market. Listen to the full episode by subscribing to Planet Money wherever you get your podcasts.

Upcoming events

Here’s a selection of events for people visiting Estonia or tuning in online where possible. All events are in English and relevant to e-residents who want to learn more about location-independent business or understand Estonia more deeply.

  • How to sauna the Estonian way’ is a weekly exploration of Estonian sauna culture as it has developed through the ages — followed by the opportunity to enjoy a good sauna and try Estonian food and drink. The event takes place every Saturday in Tallinn (starting this weekend), including a special one coming up in partnership with Latitude59. It’ll start with a discussion of ancient sweat culture and its earliest origins here among Finno-Ugric peoples and finally look at why the sauna is still revered to this day in modern Estonia. In between, it will also feature old beliefs, new science, and interesting traditions. Oh, and this is a totally shameless plug because these events are hosted by me and Anni. Learn more at estoniansaunas.com.
  • The next ‘Getting started with e-Residency’ webinar offered by the e-Residency programme takes place on 7 May at 11am GMT (which is 2pm in Estonia). It’s a great opportunity to learn the basics and ask your questions directly to members of the programme. Sign up here.
  • Ever wondered how Slack uses Slack? Their team is coming to Tallinn to discuss their company and how to make better use of their tools. The event takes place on 8 May from 1830 at Lift99, a vibrant coworking space in Telliskivi. Sign up here.
  • Tallinn Technopol, a science park and startup incubator that is home to Skype, is hosting ‘How to find and hire the best international employees’ on Thursday 9 May from 1600 to 1800. The guests will include representatives of the International House of Estonia (a government-funded help centre for new arrivals), LeapIN (a business services provider for e-residents and one of Estonia’s fastest growing startups), and Jobbatical (another Estonian startup that connects employers with international job seekers).
  • The launch party (and e-resident networking session) for the independent e-resident group EERICA that we mentioned is taking place the night before Latitude59 on Wednesday 15 May at Restaurant PULL in Tallinn. Here are the details.
  • Lift99 has also just announced it is hosting a discussion with LeapIN CEO Allan Martinson, also on 15 May. Martinson was previously the COO of Starship Technologies so it should be very interesting. You can get tickets here.
  • There will be plenty more events around Latitude59 to talk about in the next Estonia Digest, but for now I just want to highlight the one that looks the most interesting for e-residents. LeapIN is hosting ‘Soloentrepreneurs Anonymous’ at the Palo Alto Club in Tallinn from 1730 to 2000 on Thursday 16 May, which is after the first day of the conference. You can get tickets from EventBrite here, but if you also want to share your soloentrepreneur story in 3 minutes with the attendees then you need to apply here.

Since your here…

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you think of this Estonia Digest (and what we could do better next time) in the comments. Also, if you found this useful then please do follow Rangi maja on Facebook, Instragram and Twitter.

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Adam Rang

Saunapreneur at EstonianSaunas.com. Previously Chief Evangelist at Estonia’s e-Residency programme.