Estonian teens thrive as aspiring entrepreneurs

According to a study commissioned by Wise, the Estonian-founded, London-based money transfer firm, close to half of Estonian teens want to become entrepreneurs, evidenced by the company’s 20 Under 20 competition.

A recent Wise-commissioned Kantar Emor survey reveals that 43 percent of Estonian teens want to start their own businesses.

Kantar Emor’s study also reveals which industries are most attractive to young people. At the top of the list are IT and technology, followed by accounting, marketing, advertising, design and catering. Women prefer to start a business primarily in the field of design, catering, entertainment or tourism, while men are primarily interested in IT, business and marketing.

One of the main things attracting teens to starting a business is the flexibility of working hours, which is considered very important by 61 percent of respondents. Almost as much importance is given to creative freedom (58 percent). Alleviating some social problems and doing something meaningful were mentioned as very important by 44 percent. The financial aspect or the opportunity to become wealthy was mentioned by 41 percent.

Youth not considering an entrepreneurial career cited a lack of interest as the main reason (63 percent). An absence of good ideas or necessary knowledge was mentioned by 43 percent and 40 percent respectively. Nearly a third, or 34 percent, of the respondents, highlighted the significant responsibility associated with entrepreneurship as why they didn’t wish to start a company.

A pan-European competition encourages entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial interest among Estonia’s youth and across Europe at large is also noted by Wise’s 20 Under 20 – a pan-European competition the company has organised for the past five years. The competition looks for promising entrepreneurs under the age of 20 to help their businesses take off.

“Creativity, determination and cleverness are the keywords that characterise young entrepreneurs all over Europe, and this is also reflected by this year’s 20 Under 20 finalists. Youngsters are motivated by the desire to solve society’s social and environmental problems. Sustainable solutions and technology are used more and more for this, without forgetting customer focus and aesthetic appearance,” Taavet Hinrikus, a co-founder of Wise and chairman of 20 Under 20, said of the competition’s results in a statement.

Taavet Hinrikus; photo by Jake Farra.

This year’s 20 Under 20 competition was won by Julian Fernández Barcellona from Spain, whose company FOSSA Systems’ satellite network uses IoT to help industrial companies monitor their assets.

Four Estonian entrepreneurs reached the finals: Rasmus Riim, a co-founder of Drycycle, producing rain covers for bicycle saddles from recycled materials; Joosep Lukin, the creator of Seif Design card holders, Artur Sepp, a co-founder of Spotter, developing tracking devices for disc golf discs; and Uku Allikvere, a co-founder of Neotime, assembling clocks and lamps from recycled materials.

Drycycle produces rain covers for bicycle saddles from recycled materials.

Education must reflect skills needed in the future

“It’s encouraging to see that a fifth of the entrepreneurs who reached 20 Under 20 finals are from Estonia. The local startup scene inspires youngsters to take the first steps on the entrepreneurial path, and 20 Under 20 gives them the necessary knowledge, support and a pan-European network to help them grow,” Hinrikus said.

“However, to secure the future of Estonian entrepreneurial success, we must take care that the education given to young people reflects the skills they will need in their future lives – from analytical thinking to goal-oriented teamwork, using creativity, and understanding and implementing tech solutions,” he added.

The 20 Under 20 competition shows that young entrepreneurs take the initiative to solve problems themselves. Rasmus Riim of Drycycle got the idea to start making saddle covers after becoming fed up with having to dry his bike when it rained. Today, his team develops new products, made of recycled materials, and is looking to add more features to the core product. In addition to focusing on user comfort and practical design, Drycycle’s team wishes to encourage more people to ride bicycles, regardless of the weather.

Drycyle team: Henry Kask, Chris-Rico Lang, Rasmus Riim.

The Kantar Emor survey was conducted in the spring of 2022 using online interviews. The target group consisted of 344 students in the 9th grade, high school and other educational institutions providing secondary education during the academic year of 2021/22.

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