Estonian startup rankings by tax revenue

In Estonia, the homegrown startups are sometimes accused of being “all style and no substance”. Startup entrepreneur Ragnar Sass analyses the Estonian startups, based on their paid taxes, and proves that contrary to the argument put forward by skeptics, #estonianmafia pays a very real money to the state coffers. 

The article was first published by Ragnar Sass on Tumblr.

Back in October, when the Estonian Tax and Customs Board published data about how much the Estonian companies have paid taxes for the first time, I created the first ranking among the Estonian startups of my own. The list started with 20 startups, but thanks to the amazing community, it has quickly grown to 40. Having the latest tax information hand, I took a bit different approach – I looked at the overall sums, but also analysed how much these numbers have changed over time. Some findings are quite surprising.

This analysis presents the data about 52 startups. I might have missed some of the smaller ones, but in general, it should give a pretty good picture of how much the Estonian Mafia is actually accomplishing. Similarly to my first analysis, I only looked at the paid employment taxes. As the Estonian Tax and Customs Board published data about the last five months of 2014, I compared the monthly average numbers per quarter. If in Q3 startups paid the total of €1,000,975 per month, then in Q4 this number had grown by 9% to €1,101,634. So the overall trend is okay.

When looking at the data about the 10 biggest startups, one can already see some significant changes. If in October the biggest taxpayer was the mobile gaming company, Creative Mobile, then it has now clearly shifted to TransferWise. Considering the latest news about its funding, the company could reserve this place for the next few years or so. Seven startups out of top 10 are growing nicely – the biggest changes come from Guardtime and TransferWise, both increased by 30%. And yes – we are talking about the percentage per quarter. From the other side – the tax amount of Creative Mobile decreased by 21%, and Fits.me by 14 %.

Here is the overall ranking by the paid employment taxes: Q4                    Q3                    %

1 TransferWise 126,574 97,454 30
2 Adcash 107,994 101,865 6
3 ZeroTurnaround 88,235 68,972 28
4 Creative Mobile 86,204 109,339 -21
5 Pipedrive 66,107 60,307 10
6 Fortumo 59,523 62,542 -5
7 Guardtime 39,595 30,466 30
8 Cleveron 38,939 32,174 21
9 Bondora 32,969 28,838 14
10 Fits.me 31,006 36,447 -15
11 Yoga Systems 28,549 27,241 5
12 Insly 26,675 21,244 26
13 Defendec 26,069 10,716 143
14 Planet OS 24,010 8,014 200
15 Toggl 23,328 25,255 -8
16 Now Innovations 23,179 25,204 -8
17 Seeme 22,776 23,497 -3
18 Erply 18,241 19,106 -5
19 Cherry Media 17,533 21,066 -17
20 Funderbeam 17,376 14,169 23
21 Signwise 16,869 21,338 -21
22 Ridango 16,387 13,550 21
23 Plumbr 13,782 12,442 11
24 GrabCAD 12,377 13,939 -11
25 Sportlyzer 9,911 7,220 37
26 Modera 9,696 10,614 -9
27 Smartlad 9,532 10,751 -11
28 Clifton 9,529 12,238 -22
29 Fleep 7,551 7,107 6
30 Vitalfields 7,439 6,516 14
31 Scoro 7,390 7,216 2
32 Click & Grow 6,773 8,665 -22
33 GoWorkabit 6,004 1,216 394
34 Taxify 5,971 3,371 77
35 Nutiteq 5,821 5,438 7
36 Teleport 5,350 3,817 40
37 Visitret 4,556 2,969 53
38 Cloutex 4,508 3,047 48
39 Voog 4,116 3,039 35
40 Messente 4,017 3,677 9
41 Upsteem 3,505 2,451 43
42 Ganttic 3,265 2,820 16
43 Cognuse 3,079 1,048 194
44 Sportid 2,698 792 241
45 3D Wayfinder 2,678 5,334 -50
46 Flirtic 2,319 2,298 1
47 Qminder 2,259 1,267 78
48 Testlio 2,178 2,178 0
49 Weekdone 2,110 2,207 -4
50 Lingvist 2,077 4,301 -52
51 Timbeter 1,582 1,454 9
52 Deekit 1,422 1,252 14

Among these, Zeroturnaround, Qminder and Taxify received funding in Q4 and Defendec in Q3, which makes the changes in the costs pretty understandable. It is pretty clear that Planet OS also received some extra finances to fuel their growth, even though there haven’t been any public announcements about it.But what is even more interesting is the overall change in Q4. Looking at the data, we can see the biggest gainer is Goworkabit, but its case is a little different as its business is based on renting short-time workforce. But still the numbers prove they had very good last quarter. Even though some of these startups are still very small, they are definitely on fire now. If your paid employment taxes are growing so fast, it’s most likely a good reason to hire more people.

Biggest growth (%) in Q 4

1 Goworkabit 394
2 Sport Id 241
3 Planet OS 200
4 Cognuse 194
5 Defendec 143
6 Qminder 78
7 Taxify 77
8 Visitret 53
9 Cloutex 48
10 Upsteem 43
11 Teleport 40
12 Sportlyzer 37
13 Voog 35
14 Guardtime 30
15 TransferWise 30
16 ZeroTurnaround 28
17 Insly 26
18 Funderbeam 23
19 Cleveron 21
20 Ridango 21

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Cover: Startup Estonia.

2 thoughts on “Estonian startup rankings by tax revenue”

  1. Mr Sass has posted items like this before. He always conveniently leaves out how much in taxes some of these startups are taking. There was even a counter-argument to this last time he did it:

    http://doteebubble.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-truth-about-estonian-startups-and.html

    Take a company like Fits.Me, which according to his latest post paid 31,000 euros in taxes last quarter. That’s the same Fits.Me that has received almost 4 million euros from the taxpayer:

    http://doteebubble.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-curious-case-of-fitsme-revenues.html

    There are still a lot of good companies on the list, which grow like normal companies do in other countries — by getting customers and perhaps receiving private investor money. But it seems like more than half of Estonian “startups” get money from the government. That hardly seems fair, both to other startups that follow the honest path to growth, as well as to people in Estonia who aren’t receiving social help (pensions, school lunches) because that money is going to startup comapnies instead.

    1. Then again, there aren’t enough venture capital in the small country. Perhaps getting government seed capital helps them off the ground? And if they later pay more back in taxes, then it works out alright, doesn’t it?

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