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TALLINN, EST: MAY 21-23, 2025

Investors of L59 Pitch Competition 2024: “We are looking for startups with a clear competitive advantage”

Investors of L59 Pitch Competition 2024: "We are looking for startups with a clear competitive advantage"

Latitude59 has announced cooperation with the Business Angel Network EstBAN and the investment fund Specialist VC for the L59 Pitch Competition 2024. The investors are presenting an investment of up to €1M in 2024, which is the second time in a row in the history of Latitude59, following the regional record-breaker of €1.25M in 2023.

According to Liisi Org, the CEO of Latitude59, it was impossible not to aim again at last year’s high bar. “Of course, it was not certain whether we would be able to make the same investment this year, the state of the market has changed. But Latitude59 is no longer just a conference – our pitching competitions have demonstrated a tight sieve and very successful startups. EstBAN and Specialist VC can be sure that they will find someone to bet on,” said Org.

Last year, the Latitude59 conference exceeded its bold promise of up to €1 million in investment when three winners were announced on the main stage, bringing in a record €1.25 million in investment. Whether Latitude59 is limited to a million this year depends primarily on the candidate. “Compared to 2022, venture capital investments in Europe decreased by 45% in 2023, and last year Estonian-related technology companies were able to attract 70% less funds than the year before. Certainly, the journey of raising money has become slower and more difficult for entrepreneurs than it was, for example, in the period of 2021-2022, but the best teams still receive investments,” Heidi Kakko, one of EstBAN’s leading investors, describes the market situation.

Martin Goroško, EstBAN’s lead investor, also highlights the complexity of their product for the best. “In addition to a strong team and great market potential, those whose product is complex, i.e. it is difficult to copy, have an advantage. It creates new value, the production of which in the highly competitive startup world is an ever greater challenge,” said Goroško.

While the Business Angel Network EstBAN is a long-standing partner of Latitude59, cooperation with Specialist VC is new. “One of our goals is to bring new entrepreneurs to the region through the competition in cooperation with Latitude59 and co-investors. We do not limit the choice with the field, but the presence of a technological component and a visibly scalable business model are important,” explained Specialist VC partner Riivo Anton.

According to investors, the Latitude59 pitching competition has a greater chance of raising money for those teams that can demonstrate the development path so far with measurable results. “We are looking for those who operate in a growing market and whose competitive advantage emerges more clearly – either through a unique market opportunity, technology or the team’s ability to understand the customer better. From an investor’s point of view, we need answers to the questions why this business, why this team, and why now? If a short checklist were to be created, each team could assess for itself how well it is aligned: do we have a dedicated team, a relatively young company (up to 3 years old), measurable feedback from the customer (i.e. the product/service is liked), the ambition to capture a sufficiently large market, and the need for money – to the level of the next important standard, up to one million euros,” described Heidi Kakko.

All three investors agree that by working with Latitude59, they can find the best ones faster than otherwise. “This is an extraordinary opportunity to analyze many early-stage startups in a very short time – a great overview of the best teams operating in our region or wanting to grow out of here. For example, at the last Latitude59 conference, more than 400 companies entered the selection process,” said Goroško and Kakko. Although conference investments are often referred to as prizes, Specialist VC does not treat it as such. “It’s still a normal investment, in the best sense. What makes this cooperation special for us is the fact that all candidates have to be processed and the best ones must be found within two months. It’s a good opportunity to get to know the best fresh startups very quickly,” admitted Anton.

According to Triin Ilves, the Head of Startup Relations at Latitude59, early-stage entrepreneurs from here and elsewhere are welcome to apply. “Last year’s strong result showed that startups and investors in the region are playing in the top league of early-stage seed investments. So – the suitcase with one million is on an adventure again! There are plenty of good startups out there, that’s why we present a clear and worthy challenge to the founders – apply,” said Ilves.

Applications for the Latitude59 Pitch Competition are accepted until April 1. A pre-selection is made from among all applicants, and the 40 strongest will participate in the public pre-finals already at the beginning of May, after which 10 startups will proceed to the next round. Working behind the scenes with the investors and mentors, the top five startups will reach the finals, taking place on May 24 on the main stage of Latitude59 2024, where the investment recipients and community award winners will also be announced.

Calling all early-stage startups – apply to L59 Pitch Competiton 2024 by April 1 for a chance to win up to €1M and follow the footsteps of unicorns! 

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