We have e-residents all over the world and here are few that we would like to introduce.
Ma olin oma turismiäri kinni panemas, aga nüüd laieneb see kogu maailma.
Arzu giidifirma Walks In Istanbul oli 2015. aastaks müünud Istanbulis enam kui 600 jalgsiekskursiooni, ettevõte andis tööd 12 kohalikule giidile ja pälvis klientidelt kiidusõnu.
Siis aga süvenesid piirkonnas poliitilised probleemid. Riigid hakkasid andma reisihoiatusi ja turistide arv langes järsult. Tagatipuks lõpetas Türgis tegevuse PayPal, nii et isegi need, kes olid valmis Türki sõitma, ei saanud enam Arzule maksta.
Arzu otsustas mitte alla anda: „Vaatasin internetis ringi. Minu riigis kasvas terrorism ja puudus ligipääs rahvusvahelistele makseteenuse pakkujatele. Otsisin lahendusi USAst, Ühendkuningriigist, Madalmaadest, Saksamaalt, Taanist ja Kanadast. Kuna mul ei olnud pakkuda midagi murrangulist ega innovatiivset, ma ei tegelnud ITga, asjade internetiga ega puhta energiaga – siis minu ärimudel ja tegevusvaldkond neid lihtsalt ei huvitanud.“
„Siis aga nägin ilusat sinist veebilehte, kus küsiti: kas sinu äri on internetis? Kas sa tahad endale ettevõtet Euroopa Liidus, mida saad juhtida kogu maailmast? Kas sa tahad võtta vastu makseid kogu maailmast?”
„Muidugi ma tahtsin! Võtsin ühendust ühe ärinõustajaga ja asutasin e-residendina uue ettevõtte Walks in Europe. Alates 2017. aasta märtsist olen müünud 120 ekskursiooni viieteistkümnes Euroopa linnas. Minu Walks In Europe teenib Eestis juba tulu ja aitab kindlasti osa Põhja-Euroopa turismist siia tuua.“
Videos räägib e-resident Arzu oma ettevõttest Walks in Europe OÜ:
Arzu Altinay Walks in Europe OÜ asutaja
Indiast pärit ettevõte arendab LiFi tehnoloogiat, mis on innovaatiline alternatiiv WiFi-le.
Indias asutatud ettevõttel oli raske investoreid leida. Olukord muutus, kui Deepak asutas uue ettevõtte Euroopa Liidu liikmesriigis Eestis ja hakkas seda e-residendina oma kodumaalt juhtima. Investoreid on sellel nii Ühendkuningriigist kui ka Zimbabwest. Paljud neist on ka ise e-residendid.
Videos räägib e-resident Deepak oma ettevõttest Velmenni OÜ:
Deepak Solanki Velmenni OÜ asutaja
Oma firma asutamine ei olnud kerge, sest mul ei olnud raha ega suhteid, olid vaid suured unistused ja visioon.
Dante oli aastaid töötanud Istanbuli firmades graafilise disainerina, kui tundis, et on omamoodi lõksus: „Disainerina tahtsin aga kasutajasõbralikkuse vallas revolutsiooni teha“. 2015. aastaks oli Dante valmis tundmatus kohas vette hüppama ja asutas koos sõpradega ettevõtte OktoPeople. Edu ei tulnud kohe, aga kui ühe moeveebi tulu kasvas tänu Dante meetodile 221%, sai ta aru, et on õigel teel. „Ainus probleem oli: kuidas leida kliente Euroopast ja USAst?“
„Eesti e-residentsuse programmist jäi esimese asjana silma lause „tööta kust tahes!“ – ehk tee äri asukohast sõltumatult. E-residentsuse taotlemine oli üsna lihtne.“
E-residentsus aitab kogu maailma ettevõtjatel laiendada oma tegevust Euroopasse või mujale. See on võimalus asutada ja juhtida Eestis kui Euroopa Liidu riigis registreeritud ettevõtet mis tahes maailma punktist.
Videos räägib e-resident Dante oma ettevõttest OktoPeople OÜ:
Dante Işıl Özkan OktoPeople OÜ asutaja
Tõeline äriklass on see, kui sa ei pea üldse kuhugi sõitma, et maailmas äri teha.
Andrii Omelianenko on Ukraina ettevõtte Corporate News Agency omanik, kes otsis võimalust oma ettevõttega Euroopa Liitu laieneda. Eesti avaldas head muljet juba esimesel külaskäigul ja nii ta Eesti kasuks otsustas.
Kuigi Eestis registreeritud ettevõtet oli Ukrainas lihtne hallata, vajas see siiski aeg-ajalt Eestis käimist. 2014. aastal käivitatud e-residentsuse programm tõi muutuse.
„Sain kätte oma e-residendi digi-ID ja mu kulud vähenesid kohe oluliselt. Pääsen selle kaardiga ligi oma pangakontole ja firma asjadele maksuametis. Ma saan sellega ka lepinguid allkirjastada. Korraga oli mul palju vaba aega, sest ma ei pidanud enam Tallinna lendama, kui oli vaja teha muudatusi äriregistris või anda allkirju.“
Ettevõtte laiendamine on ennast õigustanud: 40% firma käibest Euroopa Liidu klientidelt.
Videos räägib e-resident Andrii oma ettevõttest Corporate News Agency OÜ:
Andrii Omelianenko Corporate News Agency OÜ asutaja
True business class is when you don’t need to travel at all to do business worldwide
After finding initial success in Ukraine, Andrii Omelianenko, Founder of Corporate News Agency, wanted to expand his business to the EU. He began looking for a place to establish his European base of operations and decided to choose Estonia after being impressed during a short visit to the country.
Despite the ease of doing business with a company registered in Estonia, Andrii still needed to visit Estonia occasionally to provide signatures and take care of other tasks necessary to run his Estonian company remotely from Ukraine.
When Estonia launched e-Residency in 2014, this all changed.
“When I got my e-Residency card, my expenses reduced significantly. Using this card I can get access to my bank account, to the company profile in tax office. I can sign contracts digitally. I had a lot of free time because I didn’t need to fly to Tallinn every time to make changes in the business register or sign some contracts.”
Today, Andrii’s business is bigger than ever before, with European clients bringing 40% of his tota turnover.
Watch Andrii explain more about how he runs his EU based company, Corporate News Agency OÜ, remotely from Ukraine with e-Residency:
Founder of Corporate News Agency
Corporate News Agency
Corporate News Agency service allows you to quickly review any company registered in Ukraine, to operatively make data-driven conclusions, to appraise the business scale, and to assess the risks
Starting my company wasn’t easy because I didn’t have money or a network, but I did have big dreams and a vision.
After a few years of working as a graphic designer for different companies in Istanbul, Dante began to feel restless.
“I felt like I was losing my creativity because I was caged. As a designer, I wanted to totally revolutionize the user-experience world.”
In 2015, Dante finally had enough and decided to jump straight into cold water with nothing but an idea for a better UX-consulting process. She gathered a few friends together to help her build this dream, and that’s how OktoPeople was born.
Success didn’t come overnight, but after their method helped a fashion e-commerce site grow its revenue by 221%, Dante knew they were onto something.
“The only problem was, it was quite hard for me to find clients from Europe and the US.”
But then Dante stumbled upon Estonia’s e-Residency programme.
“The first thing that caught my attention was ‘work from anywhere,’ it’s a location-independent business, and applying for e-Residency was quite easy.”
E-Residency is helping entrepreneurs around the world scale in Europe and internationally by offering the freedom to easily establish and manage a location-independent business in the EU.
Watch Dante explain how she is growing her EU based company, OktoPeople OÜ, with e-Residency.
Dante Işıl Özkan Founder of OktoPeople
OktoPeople is revolutionizing the user experience from head to toe with its boutique approach, giving your customers the privilege of having a unique UX journey.
I almost lost my tourism business, but now it’s expanding globally
Arzu is a professional tour guide from Istanbul who first founded her company as Walks In Istanbul. By 2015, she had built up a successful business after selling more than 600 walking tours, providing work for 12 local tour guides and earning a huge number of positive reviews online.
Then disaster struck.
Political problems within the region led to a sharp decline in tourism as governments issued travel warnings for people stay away. Then PayPal stopped operating in Turkey so even those who did want to travel were unable to pay for her services.
Arzu says that she spent several days staring into the void as her business disappeared, but decided not to give up.
Here’s her interview:
What did you do next?
I did a lot of research because I was stuck in a country that was exploding with terrorism and did not have international payment gateways. I searched for solutions in the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Canada, but my business model was not something these countries were interested in for various reasons. It wasn’t disruptive, it wasn’t innovative, it wasn’t IT, it wasn’t IOT, it wasn’t clean energy, it wasn’t a sector any of these countries were interested in.
Then, one day I just saw this beautifully designed blue page that asked: Do you want to operate an international business? Is your business online? Do you want an EU company that you can run globally? Do you want to accept international payments?
Yes! Yes, to them all!
So I contacted one of the business service providers recommended and established my new company, Walks in Europe, through e-Residency. After this point on, my experience with e-Residency has been a complete success and a very positive one.
What has e-Residency enabled you to do?
I was able to establish a travel company (which is a regulated industry all around the world) with no capital share. I was able to get a travel license with just a click (which is very difficult in the rest of Europe). I was able to open a bank account at Swedbank. I am able to accept Euros into my Swedbank account so I do not lose from exchange rates.This is revolutionary for someone living in a country where PayPal doesn’t exist. I am able to transfer Euros to my local guides all around Europe with no transfer fees (which saves me a lot of money). I sometimes use Swedbank and sometimes Transferwise Borderless. I can do all my accounting with 49Euros a month (it is a minimum of 100Euros in Turkey). I am able to pay no company taxes until I take out dividends.
What does your new company offer?
Walks In Europe operates in 15 different cities across Europe as an alternative universe of tour and activities. We develop and deliver all kinds of experiences, including some you never knew you wanted to be in. They are all hand crafted locally by talented individuals. Most tourism is boring — marching through museums and monuments that locals would never visit. Our walks are for people who are willing to scrap these in favor of more unusual and memorable experiences with locals.
Our channels are the website (www.walksineurope.com) and then two online travel agents (Viator and Get Your Guide) for whom we pay 20% commission. Our clients are mainly from the US and Canada, then the UK, followed by continental Europe and the rest of the English-speaking world. Once the client finds us, they go through the channels and decide on a tour in a city that they will travel to.
They pay online with a credit card in Euros. There’s a booking engine on the website.
The money goes to the company’s Swedbank account or my Transferwise Borderless IBAN.
Once the tour is delivered, my guide sends me an invoice and I pay them in Euros as per our agreement. The balance stays in my company account until I pay the capital and decide to take the dividend.
How has business been since you’ve started?
Since March 2017, I’ve sold 120 tours in 15 cities across Europe, which is not bad for the first year. Walks In Europe is already creating revenue in Estonia. I am very positive that my company will make enough space that will help Estonia get its fair share of Northern European tourism.
What are your future plans?
Next year I’ll start my MA degree at Tallinn University on Estonian Studies. It’s the best place to learn Estonian, the history and the culture so that I can interact with my clients who will come to Tallinn for walking tours. I may start guiding myself in Tallinn too. The studies will let me create the correct context of Estonia for tourism. Tallinn is the shining star of Northern European tourism with its port for cruise ships and proximity to many European cities.
I am very willing to contribute to the tourism industry in Estonia and use it as my base for Walks In Europe.
I want to employ at least three people and delegate my responsibilities as the founder. I will open the tours to more languages, especially to customers from the far east such China, Malaysia, India, Japan, Korea. I also want to open a branch in Germany to attract more German travelers to Estonia as that is the biggest market in Europe.
All my business transactions are within the eurozone. I am still under a minimum so I do not do VAT. Until I reach a certain amount, I am not touching the money that’s saved in the company account. Once I pay the share capital and afford the 20% tax then I can pay myself out in dividends. So, for the moment, it’s working well for me.
I will then need to declare income tax to Turkey where my residency is.
I haven’t employed anyone yet so that will be something I will need to learn in future.
What business services do you use to administer your company?
WordPress to run the website
GoDaddy for hosting the website
SemRush for website optimization
Google for analytics and search presence
Hootsuite for social media management
Mailchimp for e-mail campaigns
Canva for designs
Trip Advisor for reviews and online listing
Viator and Get Your Guide as sales channels
Microsoft Office for documents and e-mail
Trekksoft as a booking engine and payment gateway
Swedbank for banking
Transferwise for money transfers
Incorporate.ee for accounting
By the way, we especially love Canva too at e-Residency — and not just because their Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki is also an e-resident!
What was your biggest challenge running your company?
We are absolutely short on resources because money stopped coming from Istanbul and we’ve had to finance it with family and friends so far. Walks In Europe is ready for an investment. It’s a one-man show doing all the business side behind the scenes thanks an excellent network of local guides. We could do with a professional marketer, a content writer, and an IT person to grow.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs now?
If you are operating in the eurozone and your business model is supported then Estonia is a great place to do business. It is quick and efficient. There’s very little bureaucracy. People are smart, straight talking, easy to get along with and speak perfect English. It may be a small country but a huge one in terms of opportunity. Grab it and be part of this programme that’s reinventing entrepreneurship.
Arzu Altinay Founder of Walks in Europe and Walks in Istanbul Originally from Turkey
Walks in Europe
Your customized walking tours and shore excursions in Europe with scholarly and professional local guides. Personal and authentic City experiences.
I started my first company at 16 and am now a serial entrepreneur
Christoph Huebner is a German entrepreneur and digital nomad. A serial entrepreneur, he started his first business at just 16 years old making websites and never stopped building companies after that. The e-Residency team caught up with Christoph while he was managing his business remotely in Malta to learn more about his background, what drives him, and how he ended up becoming an e-resident.
Tell me about your background and how you got into startups.
I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life: I started my first little business when I was 16 years old and still in school. That was in 1999, long before the dot-com-bubble burst, so then it was just something outstanding and cool when you were able to write some HTML. So I made websites.
After finishing school at 19 I went full-time with an advertising agency I head founded together with a graphic designer. As of today my big passion is to digitize and modernize the all dust covered insurance industry.
What does your company do?
Personal insurances in the life and health sector are my playground. Currently I’m involved at both ends of the lifespan: With www.kinder-privat-versichern.de I run a little company that is specialized in the brokerage of baby’s and children’s private health insurance plans in Germany. You wouldn’t believe this is so revolutionary but focusing on one niche, becoming experts there and then serving the nation-wide market is something really unusual. Currently insurance sales in Germany is still mostly done by local brokers who try to offer anything and everything but can’t be good at all of it. Instead of focusing on target groups in a shrinking market they usually try to broaden their assortment with contracts for energy supply and phone lines. You can see the disaster coming already…
So actually we are still the only ones going this specific way in our market for several years now!
And I’m also working on the end of the lifespan: My company exmedio.com offers digital precaution services for one’s own passing. Basically this is the extension of life insurances to the digital world: We inform your friends in case something happens to you. We care for your digital legacy. We terminate your contracts, subscriptions and memberships. So everything that needs so be done in case someone passes away. As this is a precautions service that addresses the living we simply help you to leave a positive last impression. And that is just the beginning. We’re just working on the next big step behind the scenes here.
My Estonian company is the perfect vehicle for all this: It serves as my personal holding company, it is the one I use to bill consultancy and other deals with and due to the unique system of deferred corporate taxation it is the perfect entity for long-term growth of wealth for retirement. I guess here I don’t need to say much about the perfect implementation of remote management capabilities through digital services and signature processes.
What motivates you to do your business?
I’ve always been an independent and self-employed person. The idea of knowing exactly how much money will be on my bank account next month, the month after that and this month next year really scares me. I don’t need the safety net below me but I need all the opportunities above me!
In almost 20 years of being an entrepreneur I have — of course — also gone through the phases when I didn’t know how I was going to eat the next day. I’m grateful for that, too, as it helps you to keep you grounded and to treasure the value of progress and prosperity even more. So giving up has never been an option as I’ve always seen the opportunities and I knew that I just had to work my ass off.
What does your day look like? What sort of challenges do you face on a day to day basis?
A typical working day starts around 10 with a nice breakfast in a café or coworking space. I mainly work on the computer, but the telephone and personal meetings are also very important. Actually I publish my travel plans for the next months on my website, password protected for friends and business partners. This inspires many of them to come and visit me along my journey and co-work here and there. Recently even a German journalist who I’m supplying with material for a story took the opportunity to do a short trip to Malta and met me there. So staying in contact with friends and family is easy as even my now retired parents are travelling Europe with their mobile home. Last time we met in Portugal where they went for the winter season.
Tell me about your experience with e-Residency. How did you find out about it, what led you to sign up, etc.?
I discovered it pretty early when it was first announced. I’m interested in foreign politics so I try to keep up with the news about developments like this. But it took a while until I really understood what the Estonian idea of “government as a service” really meant. If you’ve suffered from the German mania of paperwork and bureaucracy for almost your whole life it’s not so easy to imagine how a society and their public services could work in another way. You need to experience it first.
After I understood exactly what it meant, I bought into it immediately! I went to Estonia for a one week study-trip in September 2017 with my business partner. That week was fully packed with visits to officials like the e-Estonia showroom and companies like Pipedrive who we’d already been working with for almost a year back then. We’ve been so impressed and inspired that I took action without hesitation
So now it’s half a year of almost a daily smile when it comes to book-keeping, tax payment or any other smooth and no-hassle-transaction through my e-Residency card or my smart-ID.
What has e-Residency done or not done for you so far?
Since being an e-Resident I’ve learned that a society and respectively their politics actually can be future-optimistic and technology-positive. Growing up in Germany I went through the pain of knowing on the one hand that your nation is well-known for its technological inventions, for its bright engineers and its industrial competitiveness. On the other hand within the last decades you could learn that these advantages and openness really are something from the past. Banning even the research on safe nuclear energy, making it legally risky to provide open WIFI or restricting science and research in genetic engineering is today’s reality in Germany. Current political discussions aren’t about WIFI and tablets in schools and government offices but about putting up the Christian cross everywhere there. The majority in Germany is afraid of technology and pessimistic about the future.
Contrasting this with the secular Estonian society that even has a “Head of Business Development” for their e-Residency program is more than refreshing. I think the Estonian government is the only one in the world that it’s cool working for!
Biggest unexpected event that came from being an e-resident?
So far the most unexpected thing is being asked for advice on the application process frequently and the general curiosity in my experiences here. Also take this interview as an example!
It feels like the e-Residency program is just seeing the tip of the iceberg. There seems to be so much interest and potential just waiting under the surface. When I was in Northern Cyprus in April there was a Turkish copywriter living in the same place as me. He translates English and French to Turkish for agencies and big corporates like airlines or car producers. So his customers are inside the European Union while he mainly lives in Istanbul but works location independently. He had already discovered the program by himself. One day that bearded guy surprised me with a blank shaved face and a fresh haircut. He was just coming from the photographer where he took the pic for the e-Residency application. His intention was to look serious and honourable. He didn’t want to fail the background checks by his regular visual appearance. If he had asked me about my opinion before going to the barber I would have laughed out loud. From my experience, the Estonians are among the most open and welcoming people on this little planet. They want you just as you are!
What advice would you give to other people who want to live a similar lifestyle to yours?
Just do it. Period.
Contact me when you need help with the practical last 10 percent. I’m happy to assist and to share my experiences. But the first 90 percent of the way must happen in your own head. Only there.
My work doesn’t depend on any one location so why should my company?
My name is Chris Muller and I am from Durban, South Africa. In late 2015 I co-founded Pango – a digital product studio.
In May 2017 I collected my e-Residency card in Paris, France, from the local Estonian Embassy (one of over 40 pick-up locations worldwide). Within 2 weeks I had set up an Estonian business, and bank account. The primary reasons I joined the e-Residency program include:
To gain insights into forward thinking administrations
To set up a European-based company
Allow for completely remote operation and administration
You can watch me speak more about this in this video I made while floating off the coast of Mauritius!
To gain insights into forward thinking administrations
Governments, financial sectors and business administration are generally slow-moving and difficult to change. This stifles innovation and can result in numerous inefficiencies. Estonia has been at the forefront of a number of radical innovations within these nation-wide administrations. For example, in 2005 Estonia was the first country to use internet voting in nation-wide elections called i-Voting.
The e-Residency program is another prime example of radical innovation, and by joining it I was excited to gain insights into how it worked and into the efficiencies gained through using such a program. There are already a number of other countries considering eResidency programs of their own.
To set up a European-based company
Running a business based in South Africa and trying to access foreign markets is not only a challenge because of geographical location, but also receiving/sending payments and currency exchanges can be tedious and costly.
By setting up an Estonian business and euro-based bank accounts our European clients are now able to pay us directly in Euros with ease and we are able to make payments from our euro account when necessary. These efficiencies have enabled us to chase new business in Europe more actively and grow our client-base world-wide.
Allow for completely remote operation and administration
One of my personal dreams has been to travel while working and engage in the digital nomad lifestyle. While my operational roles have traditionally allowed for this, being a business owner sometimes makes this challenging. For example, I may need to be a signatory for a South African financial or legal document and these can only be signed in-person.
The e-Residency digital signatures allow me to sign documents digitally as well as manage the business and accounts completely remotely. This is one of my favourite benefits of the program and very necessary in this digital age.
Chris Muller Co-founder of Pango, a digital product studio. Originally from Durban, South Africa.
At Pango we design, develop and run online learning platforms for a number of clients across South Africa, and a handful in Europe. We are a young and passionate company growing in the exciting eLearning industry. Some of our clients include: AdvantageLearn.com, StartupSchool.ac
We built a global games company with e-Residency
Cupcake Entertainment is a Brazilian/Estonian fast growing mobile and Facebook games developer and publisher. We want to help people exercising their brains while having fun and our goal is to be the #1 casual brain puzzle games company in the world and all of our games, and everything we do in the company, is aimed at that specific goal.
Our target audience is women over 35 years old. Most of them are in the US, but also in UK, CA, DE and FR. Not by accident as Cupcake and our games were built with that audience in mind. The Change the Game research by Google Play found out that 65% of women aged 10 to 65 in the US play mobile games and 49 per cent of mobile gamers are women.
Cupcake was founded in 2012, initially doing outsourcing and advergames. In 2012 and 2013 we launched our first two games, which failed commercially but were an important learning in the making of Letters of Gold, which is currently our biggest game and is the one the led us to only work on our own games. Letters of Gold is a word search puzzle, a mix of the traditional word search games with puzzles like the ones you find in Candy Crush.
Watch Gabriel Stürmer discussing Cupcakese’s business strategy while visiting Estonia and attending GameDev:
In 2014 we were accepted into Startup Chile, which is the biggest startup accelerator in Latin America. It helped us improve the business side of the company and we started seeing some early revenue growth in early 2015.
After that we got into GameFounders, which is a Estonian startup accelerator for game companies in a batch they ran in Malaysia. GameFounders was crucial for building our network in the industry and improving our games and by the end of the program we were growing really fast, about 45% a month, a growth rate we sustained for 18 months!
The networking we gained from GameFounders, as well as sustained growth rate, led to a recognition in the games industry which resulted in a $1M investment by Thailand’s Playlab in 2017. Nowadays Cupcake is one of the biggest games companies in Brazil and we are building the structure for further growth.
During GameFounders we established our Estonian Oü company and became e-residents. Being e-residents became really important for us because of a cultural trait of Cupcake: we are all remote. There’s not a Cupcake office anywhere and being able to run the company from anywhere in the world is really important to us.
Our remote team is scattered all over Brazil, and one guy is in Germany. We communicate on a daily basis using video and all of our process were designed to work remotely, even hiring. I won’t get into the pros and cons of remote working in this article, João will write another article detailing how we work remotely, but it is something that works really well for Cupcake and we wish to continue.
We already run many services from the Estonian company and our goal is to actually set foot in Estonia, move the team there if they wish to (many do) and hire people in Estonia, but still work remote. After all, that’s the whole point of e-Residency, to allow people to run their companies from all over the world.
Chief Marketing Officer at Cupcakese.
Currently living in Brazil where most of the team work remotely.
Cupcake is a fast growing Game Startup that develops free-to-play casual brain puzzle games.
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I’m developing a light based communication system called Li-Fi
Deepak Solanki from India is developing LiFi technology — an innovative alternative to WiFi — through his company, Velmenni.
He started the company in India, but had difficulty raising finance until he reestablished his company in the EU, thanks to Estonia. The company is now run remotely through e-Residency with investors from the UK and Zimbabwe, all of whom are also now e-residents.
Watch Deepak explain how he runs his EU based company, Velmenni OÜ, remotely from India with e-Residency:
Deepak Solanki Founder of Velmenni Originally from India
Our dream is to let you exchange data at the speed of light, uninterruptedly. Using light waves from LEDs for data transmission, Li-Fi potentially offers 10x the efficiency than traditional Wi-Fi, facilitating high-speed data communication of up to 1Gbps. With the ever-growing demand for connectivity, Li-Fi would be able to combine illumination and wireless data transmission to accelerate the relay of data across the globe.
I applied for e-Residency out of curiosity and now run a global startup
My love story with Estonia started with a personal love story. While studying in the USA I met a girl who couldn’t stop talking about this remote, beautiful, small and peaceful country with a very difficult language and a very advanced government IT system. So I had no other choice than visit this fairy tale country and see it myself.
There is a story about the Tartu ghost — a mysterious being that stoles your heart and keeps it in Tartu, but I think that Estonia is full of those ghosts. You never know where you would meet one — on the full of berries Valgesoo marshes, near a dreamy lighthouse on Saaremaa, or running through old streets of Tartu.
This could be pretty much the story — yet another person liked yet another country.
If not for the e-Residency.
Out of curiosity
Apparently, Estonians are very fond of everything that starts with an ‘e’ letter, that’s why when they decided to expand their digital services to the world they had to name it e-Residency 🙂
In a nutshell, e-Residency is government-issued digital ID powered by the Republic of Estonia that allows you to start and run a European company from anywhere in the world.
I first heard about the new Estonian “government startup” a month before the official launch in October 2014 and started closely following its progress afterwards. As the service was expanding both in features and in the availability for residents of different countries I finally decided to apply myself.
At that time in November 2016 I just moved to Vancouver, Canada, to work at Microsoft and an idea of having a completely digital identity, that wouldn’t tie me physically to a certain country and place was very appealing to me. I applied to become an e-resident just out of curiosity, as a fan of Estonia and a technology early adopter (that year the program just passed 10.000 e-residents mark). Just a month later my e-Residency was granted, the card was sent to Canada and a bit later I received it from the hands of the Consul of Estonia in Canada.
That year I connected not only to the digital e-Estonian nation, but also found a great Estonian community in Vancouver. I took a short Estonian language course there — see oli väga naljakas. 😉 Seeing such a small country being that open to the world was quite inspiring and I was determined to put my e-Residency at work.
SharedTrip was born
Later in 2017 I took a short vacation trip to Estonia to run Tartu City Marathon (42.2 km) there, where, by the way, I set my personal best record of 3 hours and 3 minutes. Yes, you heard it right, I flew all the way from Canada to Estonia just for one week vacation.
But that trip also turned into a life-changing for me. My friend and the future co-founder pitched me the idea of Sharedtrip — to help people around the world explore more and do things they haven’t done before through group activities. Hands were shaken, fireworks launched, designs sketched and the first lines of code committed.
But you’re not a real company until incorporated a legal entity. And where should you register one when both of the founders live 5000 miles apart? At that time I was a temporary resident in Canada and my co-founder a temporary resident in Estonia and both of those could have changed in the future. We decided to combine my digital residency with co-founder’s physical one and incorporate our company in Estonia — Sharedtrip OÜ was registered in Tartu — how cool is that?
Registering the company in Estonia over the Internet and signing all the documents using the digital ID cards took only half an hour (32 minutes, to be precise). This is probably less than one would spend standing in the queue for registering a company in most of other countries, and here everything was digital, remote and completely secure. In our case we had a physical address in Estonia and as a one of the founders was living there, getting a bank account was easier for us than for a complete digital residents. The mailing address though could be obtained through one of the service providers, and physical presence for banking could be solved with fintech companies.
E-residency gave me an access to the world’s most advanced digital government and allowed me to run business from anywhere on the planet. The ease of use, the security and the rate with which new features are added to the e-Residency program makes it one of the most exciting government tech innovations.
I remember this happy feeling when Startup Estonia featured Sharedtrip as a Startup of the Week and called us #EstonianMafia. Estonian tech community is very vibrant and very well known across the globe with new startups launching at fascinating rate!
Now I want to experience this community in real life — to be in Estonia among Estonian founders as a co-founder of an Estonian startup. Sharedtrip has applied to both demo and pitch track at Latitude 59 — the leading startup and tech conference in Europe.
Growth in Europe
My story is not the standard success story of an e-resident getting a huge growth in business by moving her company to Europe, but rather a story of one (yet!) small startup, Sharedtrip, finding a perfect fit in services from another one — e-Estonia. After living in Russia, United States and Canada, we cannot imagine a better service that could allow us to bring our first startup to live that fast. Thus, were are happy to recommend it to other startups. Some of our friends already followed our example, applied for e-Residency and used it to expand presence of their already successful businesses to the European market.
If you are still deciding on applying for the Estonian e-Residency I strongly encourage you to do so — as my story shows, you never know when you’ll need one 🙂
Co-founder of SharedTrip, a travel startup.
Currently living in the Canadian mountains.
We build Sharedtrip to help our friends, strangers, and all people of the planet Earth to travel more, and to have more opportunities, cheaper opportunities, and safer opportunities. To hear about a cheaper trip — and find a buddy on Sharedtrip to travel together. To imagine an adventure — and find friends and future friends to share the cost and fun with. To more easily plan travel with friends. And to see what other people are up to and how much these trips cost.
Their startup, Twipes, is developing ‘the future of toilet paper’. The environmentally-friendly wet wipes fit into existing toilet roll holders, but are made from wood pulp so contain no harsh chemicals and dissolve after just a few hours in water.
This makes them the world’s first truly flushable wet wipes.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “As London’s population grows, the pressure on our infrastructure increases with it. Alborz and Ellenor are to be commended for tackling this challenge head on and they should be very proud of what they have achieved.”
Alborz and Ellenor are residents of London, but both became e-residents of Estonia after the Brexit vote in order to keep their company inside the EU where they believe there is a large market for their innovative product.
The duo qualified for the competition from more than 300 entries then had to pitch at a live final in London’s City Hall in front of a jury of high profile entrepreneurs and public figures.
Ellenor McIntosh and Alborz Bozorgi Founders of Twipes. Based in the UK.
Eco-friendly toilet wipes that disperse within three hours.
On a roll and antibacterial. Toilet paper, Reinvented. Twipes.