The present year will bring a lot of changes to startups, as the focus is bound to shift away from growth at break-neck speeds, made possible by easy-to-access capital, and towards conservative, sustainable business development and profitability, said Inga Langaitė, CEO of Unicorns Lithuania.
According to her, startups that manage to adopt this lesson will be able to use the crisis as an opportunity – the potential for that is all there. Last year saw the total amount invested in Lithuanian startups reach €240M, the birth of a new unicorn, and the largest startup exit to date. The country’s startup ecosystem is now the leader in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of growth, measured by enterprise value – according to Dealroom.co, it grew by 16.6- fold in the past 5 years, and is currently valued at €10B.
Today, Lithuania has over 700 active startups with a total workforce of 16,700 specialists. During the first three quarters of 2022, startups had paid €207M in taxes, which is more than in 2021 as a whole.
“Some market experts have called 2022 “the year of recalibration” in the startup sector. Everyone was forced to step back and take stock of their value creation, growth, and other key indicators. They also learned to manage their expectations, keep a cool head even in difficult situations, and see the big picture at a time when the world itself seems to be circling the drain,” said Inga Langaitė.
That being said, we do have a number of success stories, namely – Lithuanian startups that managed to attract investment despite the challenges and are now planning further development and stable growth.
1. Ovoko / RRR.lt. In October 2022, the Lithuanian e-seller of auto parts attracted €14M in funding. Its CEO and co-founders Justinas Baranovskis, plans to use it for boosting the effectiveness of product development and growing the team. “We’ve already established our business not only in Lithuania, but also in the Baltics and other European markets. The fact that we managed to attract funding under extremely trying conditions proves the high potential of our service and the value it’s already generating to customers. The recent investment will help us to start realising that potential today”.
2. PVCase. This Lithuanian startup, offering a tool for automating the design of solar farms, plans to continue doubling in size for the next several years. Founded in 2018, PVCase raised €20M in 2021, and currently has clients in 70+ countries globally. The aim going forward will be to increase that number even further and to grow its team and number of divisions abroad, including in the USA and Western Europe.
3. Litilit. Having received its first €3.5M Taiwanese investment from a CEE-oriented package worth $200M, the Lithuanian femtosecond laser technology startup isn’t shy about its ambitions. This investment not only signals the international recognition of Lithuanian innovations, but also opens new possibilities to other local startups.
4. Walk15. Already in December of last year, the Walk15 platform, which generates corporate walking challenges, raised €400K in funds. Encompassing over 1K international companies and 420K users, the Lithuanian startup encourages businesses and organisations to tackle problems related to sustainability and their own employees’ sedentary lifestyles.
5. Frontu. This field service management startup recently had an opportunity to verify the idea that capital shortfalls boost creativity. Early in 2022, it received a negative reply from 122 venture capital funds, and no reply from another 72. Despite this, Frontu managed to rearrange its internal procedures in such a way that revenue increased by 50%, and the number of clients – by a third.
6. CasZyme. The solutions provided by CasZyme help businesses choose the optimal uses of gene editing technology. “Gene scissors” are already being applied in fields like medicine in general, and the treatment of genetic disorders and oncological diseases in particular. Additionally, they‘re being used in agriculture to develop plant varieties resistant to disease, pests, and the effects of climate change. In the future, the development and further improvement of molecular tools will not only speed up research, but also prepare the ground for new scientific breakthroughs.
7. Watalook. During its early development funding stage, this Lithuanian startup, currently developing a beauty service management tool, raised €3M in funding, which the company plans to use for further development and improving its presence in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian markets. In 2022, the Watalook app registered 3 times more beauty service orders than in 2021, with a total value of €11M. In the same period, the number of specialists using the platform also grew three-fold.
Information prepared by Unicorns Lithuania