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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 20.03.2019, 18:04

Estonian Venture Capitalists Vote Veriff the Estonian Startup of the Year

BC, Tallinn, 07.01.2019.Print version
According to the poll conducted among Estonian venture capitalists by the Estonian radio program Restart, Veriff was voted as the Estonian startup of the year in 2018.

Sten Tamkivi, the president of the Estonian Startup Leaders Club and Taavi Kotka, the Estonian government's former chief information officer were guests at Restart radio show to comment on the voting results. As a part of the interview, Taavi Kotka told a story why he decided to apologise to Veriff’s founder Kaarel Kotkas before last Christmas.

“After Kaarel graduated from Y-Combinator, he received really attractive offers to sell the technology and start working for tech giants in Silicon Valley. The bidders were companies where every person wants to work at. Kaarel rejected all offers. At that time I did not tell him that I thought he was a bozo. These were financially very attractive bids including a boatload of cash. He could have worked with top-notch professionals and compound his technology with the world’s leading platforms. He had so many options! Why return to Estonia and continue bootstrapping here? Now I think differently. Whoops. I was wrong to think that Kaarel was a bozo,” told Taavi Kotka.

Sten Tamkivi was walking on the streets of San Francisco with Kaarel back then. “Kaarel slept for about 2 hours a night during the Y-Combinator period,” Tamkivi explained the context of how Kaarel has developed as the founder of Veriff. “He has awesome stories about the first companies he founded. Some years ago, he tried to sell mowing service for people who own a summer house the island of Hiiumaa in Estonia where Kaarel is from. His selling line was: “Imagine arriving at your summer house... and the lawn is already mowed”. That’s how he got his first two customers. By today, Kaarel’s scale as an entrepreneur has grown quite a bit,” Tamkivi modestly expressed. 

Online identity verification startup Veriff was founded in 2015 by then 20-year-old Kaarel Kotkas. In spring 2018, Nordic Business Report picked Kaarel Kotkas as one of the 25 most influential young entrepreneurs in Northern Europe. Today, Veriff has about a hundred paying customers around the globe including financial companies, marketplaces, sharing economy companies and e-commerce sites. Veriff is an alumni of the most reputable startup accelerator Y-Combinator (winter class 2018) and has raised 8.4 mln dollars in venture capital investments.

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