GSD’s #GoGlobal Tour Fuels Innovation In Estonia

You Might be Wondering, “Why Estonia?”

According to the World Economic Forum, Estonia is the most entrepreneurial country in the world. It is the birthplace of more unicorns per capita in Europe than any other country, boasting 10 in total since 2005. These unicorns include Skype, Playtech, Wise, Bolt, and PipeDrive, to name a few.

Now you might be wondering; how did Estonia accomplish such great success?

There aren’t many countries where you can establish a startup online in just 15 minutes and file your tax returns with just a few clicks of a button. Their taxation regime is transparent and straightforward — 0% income tax on retained and reinvested profits, clear stock options regulation, and double taxation treaties on file in at least 60 countries.

We are thrilled to connect and forge new partnerships with the thriving entrepreneurial community of Estonia. — Gary Fowler, CEO, and Co-founder of GSD Venture Studios.

Additionally, Estonia became one of the first EU countries to pass legislation regulating and controlling cryptocurrencies, making it one of the first in the world to develop a framework to facilitate crypto entrepreneurship and innovation. This, combined with the country’s progressive tax system and a digital-first economy, has made Estonia one of the most popular destinations for startups, specifically in Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and investors alike.

Estonia Has The Talent And Experience To Use Silicon Valley As A Portal To The World

This Baltic nation first landed on the map with Skype in 2003. What began as a small startup eventually became a global business with a whopping 300M + users. The company was later sold to Microsoft but still has offices around Tallinn.

Considering they are one of the smallest countries in the region, another impressive stat is that they also lead in the number of investments per capita. When it comes to venture funding, Estonia ranks third globally with $1.19B in total funding in 2021, according to Crunchbase.

Other successful unicorns include Pipedrive, a leading CRM for sales and marketing teams named the top ICT company of 2021. Pipedrive has grown from a single sales pipeline tool to a full-lifecycle business platform. Unicorn ID.Me is a secure, digital identity network now used by 38% of adults in the U.S.

The Estonian entrepreneurial culture combines the digital competitiveness of China with the ambition and resilience of Silicon Valley — a deadly combination that is already putting a dent in the universe. It was fascinating to see.

The Intriguing History of Estonia

The fairytale-esque Old Town and UNESCO world heritage capital Tallinn was granted city rights by the King of Denmark in the 13th century. Since then, the nation’s capital has been in the hands of many world powers, from the Swedes and Danes to Germans and Soviet Russia.

The Republic of Estonia became an independent state in 1918, interrupted by the 50-year-long Soviet occupation after World War II. Estonia later restored its independence in 1991, coined the Singing Revolution, inspired by their song festival tradition. Filled with medieval homes and historical sights, Estonia’s rich architecture holds many legends and stories to tell.

GSD Supports Startup Growth In Estonia

The fireside chat theme ironically aligned with Derek’s love language; purpose-driven companies. Beyond providing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems and turning a profit, how can startups make a global impact and leave the world a better place than they found it?

Treebuddy is a Unicorn in the Making That Stands Above the Rest

“By investing in purpose-driven innovations that have established roots throughout the world, our mission to build bridges for global startups continues in fast-growing Estonia.” — Derek Distenfield, COO and Cofounder of GSD Venture Studios.

TreeBuddy has found an innovative business model whereby corporations and consumers pay for tree plantings. Additionally, Treebuddy has built a community-driven initiative around climate change that incentivizes locals to care for the trees and the planet.

Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships

GSD Labs & Baltics Fund

We will continue to invest time and effort in Estonia, and with the progress this small country in the Baltics has made, we can’t wait to return. My trip further solidifies our belief in GSD’s thesis: there is nothing magical in the water in San Francisco. When you leave the bubble of Silicon Valley, you just might find exceptional talent and unicorns chomping at the bit to become a global force to be reckoned with.

While many initiatives support Estonian founders, we believe our accelerator, GSD Labs, adds unique value by building bridges to Silicon Valley and helping founders to . In addition, we are establishing a Baltic-specific fund just as we started in and to raise money for the most promising ventures in Estonia. More to come.

Originally published at on June 8, 2022.

About GSD Venture Studios:
We travel the world investing in resilient teams bold enough to #GoGlobal.
For too long, self-motivated entrepreneurs have navigated the minefield of challenges to launching a global company with very little support. The last thing you should bet on in this situation is an unproven team that you don’t trust. GSD Venture Studios travels to every corner of the globe inviting resilient teams to establish partnerships that ensure organizations grow the right way, without games or gimmicks. You can learn more about GSD Ventures Studios here:

About Derek Distenfield:
Known for both bringing revolutionary new ideas to organizations that deliver explosive growth and for displaying a high tolerance for ambiguity and complexity. For over 15 years, Derek has blazed high impact careers in startups, corporations, governments, and nonprofit organizations that range from $0 to $2 billion.
He is the operational mastermind, COO and Co-founder behind the success of GSD Venture Studios. Derek brings a variety of resources together to deliver explosive growth for GSD’s portfolio companies. Additionally, he lectures on startup growth at leading universities and writes for Analytic Insight Magazine honored Derek as a 40 under 40 Innovator for his work in redefining the future of tech through cutting edge innovation. called Derek as one of 2020s most influential people.
Derek is a frequent keynote speaker, advisor, and mentor. Silicon Valley is home, and he travels the world frequently to work with GSD’s portfolio companies.
More information can be found at:



Derek Distenfield currently travels the world investing in resilient teams bold enough to #GoGlobal as the COO and Co-founder of GSD Venture Studios.

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Derek Distenfield

Derek Distenfield

Derek Distenfield currently travels the world investing in resilient teams bold enough to #GoGlobal as the COO and Co-founder of GSD Venture Studios.