No matter who you talk to, the Estonian capital Tallinn has a serious rep for tech. While there are just 400 startups in the country, with a population of scarcely more than a million people it actually has the third-highest number of startups per capita in Europe, according to the Startup Investment Report Estonia by Funderbeam, the blockchain-based startup stock exchange. Clearly Tallinn has become a startup hub to reckon with. “It’s incredible: in the past few years, there has been a startup explosion,” says Norris Koppel, co-founder and CEO of Monese, the mobile current account startup. “It almost feels like startups have taken over the city. There have been multiple references now to Tallinn being the Silicon Valley of Europe.”
Despite this, Tallinn hasn’t always been synonymous with tech startups. “Twenty years back, there weren’t any startups in the way we would define them today,” says Koppel. In fact, in 1991, the country went through a very jarring rebirth: while the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Estonia’s declaration of independence meant the nation regained its sovereignty, it also meant that its infrastructure all but collapsed. “Initially it was very painful: the Soviets left and everything fell apart,” Koppel says. “There were no police, no banking system as such, so we had to quickly rebuild everything.”
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