Is Estonia the best place to start your start-up?


For many in the IT industry, the dream is to set up a tech start-up and grow it into the next Google or Apple. Individual start-up scenes are thriving in EMEA, but from staffing to rent, exit potential to government support, there are huge differences between countries. Which country is right for your fledgling tech company? ZDNet examines some of the major hubs in the region, and what each can bring to the start-up table.


For the uninitiated, Estonia may not immediately seem like an obvious place to start a start-up: a small country in the north east of Europe, Estonia's population of just under 1.3 million is less than the number of people living in Manhattan.

However, the country, which recalimed its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union 21 years ago, has already got some notable achievements under its belt when it comes to tech.

Estonia is known for its widespread, free Wi-Fi connections, its commitment to e-government, building its future IT skills base and other internet-related services. So key is online infrastructure to Estonia, in 2000, the country's parliament passed a law that declared internet access a fundamental human right and started a massive programme to bring web connections to previously ignored rural areas.

In recent years, both the state and the private sector have been encouraging the growth of the local start-up scene - a trend that has already begun to bear fruit.

The country's biggest success story so far has definitely been Skype. Although many Estonians like to think about Skype as "our own" company, it was actually founded by a Dane and a Swede. Nevertheless, the software was originally developed by three Estonian software engineers who were also behind the once-popular Kazaa file-sharing software.

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