As a traveling entrepreneur and blogger, I’m incredibly lucky to be constantly mingling with business-minded people from all over the world. And yet, I’m often met with blank faces after mentioning that I’m from Lithuania, a small European country that’s given the world one of the oldest languages, the first constitution, and Sabonis.
In the last few years, though, Lithuania has made huge strides in the business world, too. Recognized as one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, Lithuania has been ranked among the top 30 countries in the Doing Business Index and 15th globally in Forbes’ annual Best countries for Business List.
The startup scene is bustling with world-changing ideas and projects. To give you a better taste of the country’s identity, I’ve piled up a list of 10 ambitious founders to watch in Lithuania.
Marijus Andrijauskas, Teamgate
Marijus Andrijauskas is a Lithuanian entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Teamgate, a complete inbound sales CRM for fast-growth businesses. He’s spent the last five years immersed in the IT industry in the USA where he was a co-founder of two companies working with 3D animations and design before launching a successful startup in Vilnius, Lithuania. Driven by a newly found passion for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and bots, Marijus set out to build a new generation CRM that simplifies the lead generation process for small and medium businesses.
Founded in 2012 after raising capital from Blue Bridge, a private business group composed of various companies operating in the IT sector, Teamgate has shown significant growth picking up big name clients across the Baltic region and worldwide. In his recent interview, Marijus has related the primary advantages of Teamgate as “exceptional customer support, onboarding, and easy-to-use CRM interface”.
Daumantas Dvilinskas, Transfergo
Recently featured in Forbes’ 30 under 30 2017 list as one of the world’s most notable entrepreneurs and change agents in the fintech industry, Daumantas Dvilinskas—28— is heading a high-growth global money transfer startup TransferGo. Having founded several companies already, the young entrepreneur is responsible for shaking up the money transfer market; TransferGo allows its customers to save up to 90% compared to international wire transfers via a high street bank. Currently operating in more than 45 countries and over 200,000 members strong, TransferGo is delivering on its promise to provide quick and cheap international money transfers to migrants who want to send their money home, wherever that is. The 28-year-old founder has made a name for himself as an active figure and advisor in the fintech scene and participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 as part of the Innovative Finance delegation.
Vidas Vasiliauskas, Eylean
Vidas Vasiliauskas is a co-founder of eylean, a successful project and team management software that counts Tesla Motors and British Petroleum among its many clients. With a name that pays homage to the lean startup methodology, eylean is loved by companies worldwide for its simplicity and ease of use.
The software that Vidas developed himself was initially intended for in-house use only, but having generated rave reviews from early users, he turned it into a startup project. In 2012, he successfully secured financial support from the EU, hired a bunch of experienced developers and created the first commercial version of Eylean Board.
Tomas Slimas, Oberlo
Tomas Slimas is a co-founder of one of the fastest growing Lithuanian startups, Oberlo. A one-click dropshipping solution for eCommerce stores, Oberlo has hit 1-million orders last summer, less than a year since its launch in 2015, and has been dubbed ‘a new star’ in eCommerce.
Before launching Oberlo, Tomas Slimas and his brother Andrius Slimas, who is now the CEO at Oberlo, successfully developed a $3M dropshipping business. The Oberlo plugin is available to all Shopify users and currently runs on more than 3000 online stores. Industry numbers show that 20-30% of online retailers use dropshipping and the trend continues to grow.
Milda Mitkute, Vinted
A co-founder and head of performance marketing at Vinted, Lithuania’s most successful startup so far, Milda Mitkute came up with the business idea when faced with the problem of having nothing to wear despite a wardrobe full of clothes. Founded in 2008, Vinted is a global peer-to-peer marketplace for pre-loved clothes that has generated more than $150-million in sales since its launch, has 22.3-million items listed and 12-million registered members—that’s the population of London—browsing the platform.
Backed by European and American funds, the startup is an impressive example of how an a-ha moment can grow into a profitable movement. Having raised over $60-million, Vinted is determined to make second-hand clothes the number one choice around the world.
Edmundas Balcikonis, TrackDuck
Edmundas “Eddy” Balcikonis is a co-founder and CEO of an award-winning bug tracking and visual feedback tool for web designers and developers, TrackDuck. Founded in 2013, the startup has quickly attracted €200k seed funding from Kima Ventures and Practica Capital and has gained traction among freelancers and small and medium-sized enterprises. TrackDuck’s integrations with Basecamp, Trello, GitHub, Asana and other project management tools makes it a handy and popular tool.
Known as one of the most active entrepreneurs in the Lithuanian startup scene, Edmundas Balcikonis is also responsible for launching the #OutsourceLithuania project that connects leading IT companies and tech talents with startup founders and idea people.
Matas Jakutis, Filippoloreti
One of the youngest founders on this list, Matas Jakutis is an example of the new generation of millennial entrepreneurs who are not afraid to take risks and break age-old industry rules. Having co-founded Filippo Loreti, a luxury watch brand inspired by the rich Italian culture, with his brother Danielius, the 23-year-old Matas Jakutis has made history on Kickstarter by running the most funded timepiece project in crowdfunding history. 6,090 backers pledged €926,960 to help bring this project to life.
By cutting out distributors, wholesalers, and retailers from the retail process and using a direct-to-consumer model, Filipo Loretti represents a new way of buying luxury watches, offering limited edition luxury Italian watches for less than $250. The brother duo is currently working on the 2017 line of watches.
Paulius Valatkevicius, Dealoyal
Paulius Valatkevicius is a co-founder and CEO at Dealoyal, an innovative sales and consumer loyalty platform. A unique solution that allows its users to automatically enjoy discounts from merchants participating in the program by simply registering their debit card on the platform, Dealoyal has raised funds from a venture capital fund Nextury Ventures and former vice president of Groupon Michael Shim.
As the first ever solution to successfully marry local marketing efforts with physical transactions in shops, Dealoyal has only scratched the surface of the next big thing in the marketing world.
Reda Stare, Plateculture
Reda Stare is a co-founder and CEO of PlateCulture, a community marketplace that connects locals who love cooking and hosting dinners at their homes with people who love eating and experiencing cultures through authentic food. Anyone can become a host, showcase their culinary skills and meet interesting people from all over the world. With the growing mass desire for travel, new experiences and unique adventures, the startup has captured the imagination of thousands of foodies worldwide.
An avid traveler herself, who spent one year exploring SouthEast Asia with only 7kg on her back, Reda Stare got the idea after being invited to a home-cooked dinner that she had to pay for during her trip in India. PlateCulture posts a monthly 20-30% revenue growth and has more than 50 senior chefs and over 700 active users in its Hong Kong network. With the recent investment of €350k, the startup is preparing for the next phase of growth.
Rolandas Sereika, Deepersonar
Rolandas Sereika is a co-founder and CMO of a Lithuanian startup Deeper, a product development company that designs and produces smart electronic devices for sports and outdoor activities. Its flagship product, Deeper Smart Sonar, a smart wireless fish-finding gadget, has been steadily making waves around the world.
Last year, Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ received the Innovation Award for the best Wireless Handset Accessory at CES 2016, the world’s biggest consumer electronics trade show and picked up numerous other awards as the best device in its category. Recognized as the most successful young high-tech Lithuanian company of 2015, Deeper has since seen its first product become the most favored fishing gadget in Australia, Russia, China, UK and the U.S.
A small country with big ambitions
A geographical center of Europe, Lithuania seems to be emerging as the epicenter for startups in the Baltics. As movers and shakers of the Baltic region and the wider world, these 10 entrepreneurs represent the new face of Lithuania and the small country’s big ambition to foster an entrepreneurial culture and growth mindset.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.