February 16 marks the official birthday of Startup Wise Guys. 9 years ago, on (probably a cold) February day one of Europe’s oldest and currently one of the largest European startup accelerators was born in Estonia — a country known for Skype success and tech-savviness.
The accelerator was one of the after-effects of the first wave of successful Estonian tech entrepreneurs — many of them became investors and some decided to give back and empower the next generation of tech entrepreneurs via accelerator fund. They chipped in from their own pockets, launched the first program shortly after, and this is how Startup Wise Guys was born: from founders to founders, from ecosystem to ecosystem!
Lots have changed since then — we have expanded operations across Baltic states and to Italy, have a portfolio of 220+ startups from 40+ countries, the team has grown from 3 to 35 people, we have launched many new products apart from our flagship B2B SaaS accelerator program and expanded our impact way beyond just accelerated companies, but we still stay very true to our mission:
We help founders become entrepreneurs and build great international tech companies!
Funny to think that there were people who thought that Startup Wise Guys is a failure that will not survive even till 2013 (check out this post). We not only survived but based on our and Crunchbase data have grown into the biggest private equity-based accelerator in Europe in terms of the number of portfolio startups! Not only that, but we have also celebrated the first major exit by VitalFields, a company from the very first batch, already in 2016, followed by the second major exit of StepShot, a company from SaaS Batch 6, in 2019.
Facts n figures we are proud of:
💰 At the onset of the crisis, we were listed among the top 50 most active investors globally by Crunchbase (March 2020)
🏆 Received prize as the Best Accelerator in CEE in CESA Awards 2020
🌍 Probably one of Europe’s most international accelerators — 40+ nationalities in the portfolio and 10 nationalities in the core team
👩💻 >10% of female founders in the portfolio
💪 Our Alumni becoming not only our mentors but also investors
But most importantly, we are proud of our Founders — the passionate, hungry, hard-working, talented people that have made Startup Wise Guys possible! And who else could be the best to give a hint of what SWG stands for:
“These guys transform shit into bullets!” Valery Chekalkin, JetBeep.
“ZITICITY would be very different without SWG. Mentors, batch colleagues, the SWG team and the surrounding network was a launchpad and rocket fuel for us,” Laimonas Noreika, Ziticity.
“Even for an experienced founder with prior exits, SWG provided relevant insights, guidance, and support that powered us further on our journey. Worth the sweat — a high impact program that propels a startup to the next level,” Tim Hall, Simporter.
“Keeps on giving value to us long after we have graduated. It’s good to be part of the SWG family,” Peter Gal, Event Intelligence.
Celebrate with us! 🎉 And apart from having a nice drink, why not, in true Wise Guys spirit, help someone who is starting up a business of their own, because who knows — you might be the necessary stepping stone for someone’s dream coming true.
Btw nothing stops with a Birthday party (online for now), we are actively scouting for B2B SaaS startups for our upcoming Spring batch in Tallinn (apply here), welcoming applications from Cyber and Fintech teams for programs happening later this year in Lithuania, Italy and Estonia, doing direct investments and follow-ons from our Fund, and you might also hear some news about even more geographic expansion and programs in geographies from Ukraine and Turkey to Africa!