Acceleration, different vehicles | #46

Acceleration, different vehicles | #46

work in progress

  • Tesonet powerhouse deserves a lot more recognition, and it is arriving - Tomas Okmanas was recently awarded CEO of the year. Having grown too large to be ignored, the company is referring to itself as an accelerator, which has brought to life around 30 products, mostly around cybersecurity / privacy / data verticals. They have also invested in Hostinger, Eneba, and Turing School, which is critical in making LT technology scene more dense and vibrant. Impressive work and #1 on list
  • SME finance continues to grow rapidly while financing small and medium enterprises in the Baltics. Now adding another EUR 80 m from EIB (senior investment into a portfolio of factoring exposures) to be channelled to businesses squeezed in the pandemic.
  • In case anyone needed more inspiration, Pipedrive just hit unicorn status after new investment. That makes 5 unicorns for 1.3 m people, by now, super inspiring track record. Scratching your head, why? Martin Henk, co-founder of Pipedrive, shared his views - which mentions
    • Fibre
    • Level of ambition (Skype effect)
    • Talent (some Skype effect)
    • Hackathons

rounds and capital

  • Interesting Dealroom report released, looking at impact investing in Europe (note this buzzword, more to come). With 14 deals, Contrarian ventures is one of the most active in the continent.
  • Didn't anyone got funding this week?
  • Change Ventures will tell all about funding next Tuesday - they are launching Baltic fundraising report, online event


Exciting news as Lithuanian Ministry of Defence announced they will be putting EUR 15 m for technology startups developing military tech. Good news, which arrives among evident broader push of LT institutions, government. public enterprises to engage in technology startups. Why?

  • No large corporates with broader R&D capabilities available (think Siemens or Nokia)
  • Research institutes, besides niche exceptions (biotech, lasers) have no reputation to deliver solutions
  • Spend wisely as LT is rapidly expanding defence budget. Many world-class clusters have been built in response to national strategic requirements. No need to look at Israel - the military is at the heart of Silicon Valley history.

In many of these cases, institutions / public enterprises are sponsors who seek solutions. However, in Lithuania, it is taking various shapes and sizes.

  • Fintech
    • Leverage - regulatory arbitrage, sandbox, in-sourcing by attracting entrepreneurs
    • Players - Bank of LT, Invest LT, Ministry of Finance, SWG, others
  • Energy tech
    • Leverage - early-stage fund (global) and sandbox
    • Players - Ignitis, Ministry of Energy, Contrarian Ventures
  • Govtech
    • Leverage - accelerator, procurement
    • Players - Ministry of Innovation
  • Transport
    • Leverage - small early-stage fund (via Co-invest), scouting, sourcing, procurement via Mobility Innovation Center
    • Players - LG, Ministry of Transport, Post, other
  • (Education, healthcare - indeed, they should come soon, no?)

The virtue of initiatives above is that they provide a mission-like direction for founders. Results of these are still early to judge and likely to vary a lot. Applying this framework to every problem will not create a new ecosystem, but certainly has some potential. As the Defence Fund (with Invega) is getting shaped, three immediate thoughts are

  • Bring a strong owner / sponsor. This should be their core function likely that would need to be a unit at the "customer" side (defence)
  • Provide with a powerful pull - clear and articulate demands, challenges, pains, which can be scaled globally. Don't play around mediocre issues/solutions.
  • Provide time and space "bubble" - opportunities for ambitious founders to stop what they are currently doing and explore the potential startup idea. Don't manage this much with paid mentors, etc. Don't involve consultants, and corporate advisors (see what Vinod Koshla says who's qualified to give advice to founders - this whole interview is great)

We'll get into acceleration again - there is more work to do in Lithuania. For Defence, here's Hacking for Defence educators guide by Steve Blank, so no need to reinvent the wheel.


  • Citybee will be led by Kristijonas Kaikaris, ex Small Planet Airlines.
  • PVcase is one of the fastest-growing companies in Contrarian Ventures portfolio. Hiring actively in Kaunas. Startup Grind is hosting a chat with David Trainavicius, founder and CEO.
  • Remote first? Mavenoid was founded in Stockholm by two former Palantir employees, one of them - Lithuanian Gintautas Miliauskas. Series A with Creandum and others. Neat job descriptions.


  • How to become a talent magnet? Keith Rabois has ideas.
  • After you became a talent magnet, how to think about stock options (Index Ventures)