sTARTUp Day took place for the 7th time on 15–17 March 2023! It's been quite a ride from an idea in a community sauna to 3000+ startup-minded participants gathering in the smart city of Tartu – let's take a look at everything that has happened.
sTARTUp Day 2016The idea for sTARTUp Day was born in 2015 and straight away, the sTARTUp Tartu community started working together. On 9 December 2016, the very first sTARTUp Day took place at the freshly renovated Estonian National Museum.
Read more about the community and roots of sTARTUp Day here.
With almost 3000 participants, the very first sTARTUp Day 2016 exceeded all expectations and securely pinned Tartu on the map as a hotspot for startups.
– Startup Estonia
How it began:
Ϟ 2800 participants
Ϟ 1400 m2 of space
Ϟ 45 keynote presentations
Ϟ 115 busy team members
Ϟ 3 km of chords wired around the venue
Ϟ 5000 cups of coffee consumed
Top 4 Estonian Early-Stage Startups of 2016One of the highlights of sTARTUp day was an intense pitching competition based on which .Contriber and EstBAN awarded the Top 4 early-stage startups – Deekit, Tebo, SportID, and Nordic Automation Systems with the main award going to Deekit.
The winner of the “Estonia’s Best Early Stage Startup of 2016” title was Deekit, who saw international success over the next couple of years and was named a finalist at the Startup Europe Awards.
sTARTUp Day 2017Although the previous year's event exceeded all expectations, the team was determined to take sTARTUp Day to a whole new level – in fact, sTARTUp Day 2017 won an award for The Most Innovative Conference in Estonia.
sTARTUp Day 2017 took place in the AHHAA Science center, with a 1000 m2 heated tent outside to increase the size of the venue. The festival boasted 3000 participants and 100 speakers over 4 stages, making sTARTUp Day the biggest business festival in the Baltics.
Fun facts:Ϟ The legendary Estonian rap superstar Tommy Cash headlined the afterparty, surrounded by a 270° video projection
Ϟ 2000 venue maps were distributed to attendees
Ϟ 400 Jägermeister shots were given out to attendees lining up outside the venue in the freezing cold
Ϟ 1500 l of diesel was used to heat the massive outdoor tent
Ϟ A University of Tartu professor helped repair the floor of the massive outdoor tent the night before the opening – it's a community effort after all.
Top 4 Estonian Early-Stage StartupsOver 100 startups applied to the sTARTUp Day 2017 pitching competition from whom EstBAN selected the TOP 4 early-stage startups of the year.
The Top 4 Estonian Early Stage Startups of Angel Investment Program 2017 were: GuestJoy, Frank.ai, Fitlap, and Transformative with GuestJoy receiving the main award – a €160k investment from EstBAN.
sTARTUp Day 2019You may have noticed that there was no event in 2018 – that's because we pushed the date by a couple of months from December to January so we could all start the new year with buckets of motivation. From 2019 on the stage program spans two days instead of one, complemented by a day filled with side events all over Tartu.
How it went:Ϟ sTARTUp Day opened the renewed University of Tartu Sports Hall
Ϟ 4000 participants
Ϟ 120 speakers
Ϟ 350 startups
Ϟ The average outside temperature was a cool -30°
Ϟ The bravest startups pitched while drifting at 120 km/h on an ice road
Come to Tartu and survive the cold, and then you will be your own hero.
– Yumiko from Japan
sTARTUp PitchingThe 2019 edition of sTARTUp Pitching received over 250 applications out of which the top 4 were selected to compete for the main prize – a €250k investment from the NAP program and other prizes.
Outvio was selected as the best early-stage startup of the year with Tasker, PowerUp Technologies, and GoTennis as runner-ups.
sTARTUp Day 2020The January 2020 edition of the festival continued to grow and break all previous records, continuing as a flagship business and innovation event. 4400 participants, 150 speakers, 350 startups, 180 investors, 2500 matchmaking meetings, 45 seminars, 21 side-events, and 191 press mentions – all in the midst of a true festival vibe, surrounded by musicians, fitness breaks, and good vibes. We strongly believe in mixing business with pleasure to get the best possible outcome.
I was surprised about the size of this event and the vibes around it. It’s an area that is going to see so many good startups coming out of this area over the next 5 to 10 years for sure.
– Hjalmar Windbladh, Managing Partner at EQT Ventures
What else happened:Ϟ €300k worth of awards were given out to sTARTUp Pitching winners
Ϟ 6000 m2 of recycled carpet was used to cover the sports hall
Ϟ 200 m2 of fabric used to create walls around a running track
Ϟ 4 km of lanyards were distributed (and recycled)
Ϟ Over 6 hours of quality pitches filled the pitching stage
sTARTUp PitchingThe prize fund for sTARTUp Pitching 2020 was a whooping €300k, including an EstBAN-led syndicate of up to €250k, equity-free cash, and tickets to the top tech events around the world. The competition was tougher than ever and 32 startups were invited to pitch at sTARTUp Day. Out of those, the TOP 7 competed for the main prizes.
Jeff App was selected as the best early-stage startup and secured a €180k investment, €10k equity-free cash, and free legal counseling. Other winners include DriveX, Autom8, PayQin, Solfeg.io, Aligner, and Adovinci.
Find out more about the 2020 edition of sTARTUp Pitching here.
sTARTUp Day 2021sTARTUp Day 2021 was definitely a one-of-a-kind event. It turned out to be a crazy journey that ended with a summerfest in August with more than 3100 participants from 67 different countries! 163 speakers, 330 startups, 690 startup representatives, 160 investors, 1215 matchmaking meetings, almost 50 seminars, over 30 side events, and 50 companies showcasing their products – all that despite COVID-19. After 18 months of organization and prepping, the startup community gathered in the Estonian National Museum to celebrate our 5th anniversary, crazy business ideas, and fantastic friends. It was great going back to our roots at Estonian National Museum, where it all started in 2016.
The prize pool for sTARTUp Pitching Powered by EstBAN was 600,000 euros. This year, we received a record number of applicants – 330 startups from 51 countries! During the three days, we had 91 pitches at the Pitching stage, 17 of them online.
The competition was both fantastic and nerve-racking. Out of 330 startups, the top 7 were selected to compete for the main prize. VSight won the EstBAN-led syndicate of €250k and €75k investment from .Cocoon Ventures syndicate. Adact was awarded a €75k investment from .Cocoon Ventures syndicate as well.
sTARTUp Day 2022The 6th sTARTUp Day happened on 24-26 August 2022. It was a business festival with summer festival vibes. More than 3900 participants, 180 speakers, 319 startups, 200 investors, 1600+ matchmaking meetings, 50+ seminars, and 32 side-events. This year's demo area was the biggest in the history of the festival (1580 m2) with 90 demo booths. In addition to a busy daytime program, we had an epic sTARTUp Night with more than 1500 people at the Kammivabrik Factory. The headliner of the event was the trad. pop-rock band Trad.Attack!
The level of startups here at sTARTUp Day are really high. I can really see that here are businesses that can change the world, for sure!
–Jaïr Halevi, Startup Program Manager at Miro
What else happened:Ϟ €500k worth of awards were given out to sTARTUp Pitching winners.
Ϟ We prevented the use of 18,000 disposable dishes.
Ϟ 1800 soft ice cones were distributed at the venue by Swedbank.
Ϟ 22h video footage of three stages.
Ϟ More than half of the side events were fully sold out.
The prize pool for sTARTUp Pitching was 500,000 euros. sTARTUp Pitching 2023 received a new record number of applicants – 380+ startups from 47 countries! During the three days, we had 86 pitches at the Pitching and Starlight stage.
LightCode Photonics and Nanordica Medical were awarded EstBAN-led syndicates of €200k and €150k respectively, and Longenesis received a €100k syndicate investment from .Cocoon Ventures. äio tech won €10k of equity-free cash from Swedbank.
sTARTUp Day 2023The seventh sTARTUp Day festival took place in the emerging spring on March 15–17 with about 3200 awesome business-minded people who came together from 45 different countries. A record number of investors showed up that year – 230, which means one investor per two startups, so the opportunities to make business were at an all-time high. The festival was buzzing with new connections after over 1600 matchmaking meetings. There were over 30 side events providing inspiration, knowledge, and a lot of fun! The legendary sTARTUp Night's good energy was brought to us by the Estonian reggae and ska band Angus.
You can actually learn from the mistakes of the other guys. This is the core part of people: to be social, to learn, to hang out with great people. Get inspiration, go back and build your business.
–Martin Villig, Co-Founder of Bolt
What else happened:Ϟ €500k worth of awards were given out to sTARTUp Pitching winners.
Ϟ We had a 13-year-old entrepreneur on stage.
Ϟ Ajujaht hosted the first ice-hole pitching competition in Estonia at sTARTUp Day.