On the 17th January, the Estonian Founders Society which represents the country’s startup community elected its new board and president. The new president is Kaidi Ruusalepp, the CEO and Founder of investment platform Funderbeam, who will be taking over from Martin Villig. Villig led the Society’s work from 2020-2021. Alongside the new president, a new board will also be stepping into pace, composed of Riina Einberg, Karen K Burns, Martin Villig, Risto Rossar, Tauri Kärson and Akim Arhipov. This is a strong leadership team, covering a wide spectrum of knowledge, leadership experience and international expertise.

The outgoing president Martin Villig said he greatly admires Ruusalepp’s experience in running Tallinn Stock Exchange and setting up a company of her own. “Thanks to her experience from Singapore Kaidi has a great understanding of the international startup ecosystem and the competition in the field, as well as how to make Estonia even more inviting to the next generation of founders,” Villig added. 

According to Ruusalepp, the goal of the Society is to keep Estonian startup founders active and engaged as a community and help turn Estonia into the best possible environment for startup and growth-stage companies. “Estonian government leaders have asked us whether the country is a good place for setting up and growing global companies, and the answer is yes - yes it is, however good is not enough. We want it to be the best in the world. 

Large and important changes have been executed over the years, however, we need to become the best also in critical details. Estonian startup companies have enjoyed exponential growth - both in terms of revenue and staff numbers. This means that as a country we have to be attractive both to a small company of 10 people still testing their business model as well as to a company with 5000 staff and a billion euros in revenue. As a country, we have to recognize the potential over dangers in new tech trends such as Web3 and our education system must be able to provide the talent pool to cater for this,” said Ruusalepp.

Additionally, the new president points out priorities of working with partner organizations such as ITL and Startup Estonia even more closely, maintaining an active dialogue with the country’s leaders as well as relevant ministries and also how the fast-growing companies can give back to the community. “When we as support each other and the ecosystem around us as successful companies and also give back Estonia, which is the home of our growth, by 2030 we’ll reach the stage where startup companies are contributing 30% of Estonia’s GDP. That is a target worth working towards,” said Ruusalepp about the future.

Estonian Founders Society gathers over 170 startup founders who are building their companies here. The Society was originally set up in 2009 under the name Startup Leaders Club and has been operating under the new name of Estonian Founders Society since 2020. The goals of the society are to represent startup companies and provide a community and a platform for startup founders to support and learn from each other.