The Latvian Startup Ecosystem: A Hidden Gem in the Baltics

The Latvian Startup Ecosystem: A Hidden Gem in the Baltics

Not everyone knows that Latvia is the birthplace of many ‘firsts’ from the first ‘spy camera’ used during the Second World War to the first drone with the “follow me” option. ✅

This Baltic country located between Estonia and Lithuania seems to have picked up its neighbours’ passions for innovation, pioneering ideas, and technology. Recently, its growing startup scene has been attracting more and more attention from entrepreneurs worldwide. 

Latvia became a member of the EU in 2004 and also joined the Eurozone in 2014. Since then, the country has flourished with its well-educated and smart talent pool, vibrant startup ecosystem and low cost of doing business. 🚀

Before diving into what makes Latvia a great place for startups and entrepreneurs of any expertise, let’s have a look at the country’s startup ecosystem. 🕵️‍♀️


Introduction to Latvia’s startup ecosystem 

Let’s rewind to 2008 when the economic crisis was shaking the whole world. Latvia is one of the rare countries which recovered from the crisis through entering the startup world. 

According to EU-Startups magazine, “the slump was a turning point for many Latvians to plunge into new ventures and ever since then startups haven’t stopped emerging over the country”.

🥁 Here are 7 facts about Latvia’s vibrant business environment: 

✅ Riga, Latvia’s capital, hosts the majority of the country’s startups. Recently, it has become more popular on an international level as well.

Jūrmala, which is one of the biggest city in the country, attracts startups too.

✅ Daugavpils, a city in southeastern Latvia, is popular in terms of coworking spaces and events. 

✅ The Latvian startup infrastructure consists of 400+ registered startups

✅ Who would not love a fast internet? Latvia ranked as the 10th country with the fastest internet worldwide. Moreover, you can find free wi-fi almost everywhere in the Riga city centre! 

Startup Latvia shares a very interesting insight about why Latvia is a great choice for startups which we will also mention in the following section: as the startup market is unsaturated, you don’t have to be a genius like in Silicon Valley… you just need to be very good. 

✅ Deep tech, fintech, and SaaS products make up the majority of the Latvia-based products (for now!).


What makes Latvia a great country for startups?

Before starting this section, we assure you that this will not be a short one! There are many reasons why many startups have emerged in Latvia over the years and why its popularity is ever-growing . 

Christmas in Latvia Latvia in Christmas time – Photo by Daniels Joffe on Unsplash

👉 If you are a startup founder or planning to start one in the near future, you probably know how much it matters to have access to business incubation programmes and support from the government. Well, it seems Latvia has already nailed it! 

In this Baltic country, if you are a startup owner, you can easily have access to one of the diverse range of modern co-working spaces along with many business incubators – which are supported by not only the government but also the academic and private sectors. 

👉 One of the factors that makes Riga’s business scene even more vibrant is that the city hosts a high number of tech conferences such as TechChillDigital Freedom Festival, iNovuss, and Deep Tech Atelier

👉 So, what’s out there for citizens of non-EU countries? If you are one of them, start packing now – Latvia has thought of you too! 

Did you know that a Startup Law has been passed and now, you and your spouse and children can officially apply for a Startup Visa? The goal is to make the country’s startup ecosystem more productive with the arrival of creative entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds and mindsets.

You can find more information about the Startup Visa from Startup Latvia!

Wondering about the Startup Law and the financial support for startups? Here is a couple of points that could encourage you to consider Latvia as your new country of residence: 

➡️ Did you know that Latvia is one of the first countries in the world to pass a Startup Law? Well, now you do! This also indicates that the country has the mindset and openness that every entrepreneur is looking for these days. 

The Law proposes a more entrepreneur-friendly taxation system for startups. So, instead of carrying a heavy tax burden on your shoulders, you can enjoy the advantages of the system in Latvia and put more focus on developing your business.

➡️ There are lots of financial opportunities for startups as well. For instance, Latvia’s Innovation Voucher programme offers up to €25K of financial support to startups. The goal is to facilitate the development of new technologies. 

➡️ You think that’s it, right? But there’s more! The LIAA (the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia) has 15 incubators that support the startups as well as the ecosystem, offering mentor support, development grants and more.

“In the Latvian startup ecosystem, we can see the drive and energy to break through to international markets to be recognized as innovators. Lots of great deep tech, fintech, and SaaS products are built here. We are expecting to see larger investment rounds, exits, and accomplishments as the existing companies mature”.

 Janis Rozenblats

Chairman of the Latvian Startup Association and CEO of Mailigen


5 Promising Latvian startups

In this section, we will get to know more about up and coming Latvian startups. 🎊

Founded in 2016, Nordigen offers free banking data and premium insights for banks, financial institutions and lenders. The company works with over 50 global banks and lenders, operating across 13 countries. 

If your expertise is Finance, keep an eye on this promising company and their job openings on the MeetFrank app! 💰

Latvian companies on MeetFrank

Lokalise is a localisation and translation management system that was founded in 2016. 

The company’s expertise ranges from content translation from websites to mobile apps and games. 📱

🎶 Founded in 2015, Gamechanger Audio produces pedals for musicians, which engineers would also love. In their own words, the company is founded by “four friends committed to exploring the uncharted territories of music electronics and creating devices that provide real value while stretching the imagination of both musicians and engineers.” 

Sound like your kind of mindset? Mark their name on your potential-companies-to-apply-to list for 2021!

Vialet was founded in 2017 and is a comprehensive financial management tool

The things you can do with Vialet are numerous, from opening an account to managing your finances anytime and transferring funds. 🤑

Founded in 2015, Atlas Dynamics UAVs is a highly innovative technology company that produces drones with an award-winning aerodynamic design. 💪

The design generates lift and enables increased endurance, speed and weather resistance. If you totally get what that means, you may be a good fit for Atlas Dynamics UAVs!


Last but not least

If you want to start and run your business in an EU country, are looking for efficiency and productivity along with a vibrant startup ecosystem, are fond of nature and experiencing 4 seasons, Latvia is waiting for you. 😊

Download the MeetFrank app today and have a look at the openings now!

Good luck in your job hunt! 🍀

Want to boost your company’s visibility in the Latvian job market?

To kickstart the community in Latvia, MeetFrank and Startin.LV have joined forces to boost the job market visibility of companies operating in Latvia.

Leave your contact details, and we’ll be in touch shortly. 👇

Join the MeetFrank community



“Scala leads to better code and happier developers” – Interview with Juris Krikis, Scala and JavaScript Department Lead at Evolution

“Scala leads to better code and happier developers” – Interview with Juris Krikis, Scala and JavaScript Department Lead at Evolution

If you’re choosing your career path in software development, the main question is what programming language to specialise in? 💻 Usually Javascript takes the spotlight, but despite the trends, there isn’t a right or wrong programming language choice.


When setting up your profile at MeetFrank you will encounter a wide variety of programming languages. Just select your expertise and MeetFrank will connect you directly to companies that are looking for a talent like you! One click, no hassle needed.


What’s expected from engineers these days?


Investigating the software development job offers on MeetFrank we stumbled across a job position that had rather unique Scala programming language requirement. This rarity caught our eye and we directly contacted the company Evolution and jumped into the sea of Scala with Juris Krikis, their Scala and JavaScript Department Lead.


It turned out that Evolution is rather seriously investing into the Scala programming language community by organising Scala bootcamps and making learning resources available for everybody. All you need to have is fundamental programming knowledge and a desire to learn.


Did you know that Scala is used by well-known companies such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Netflix and Airbnb? Read further to find out more!



What does the company Evolution do?


Evolution is a world-leading B2B provider of video-streamed Live Dealer gaming with over 400+ engineers located in Riga, Minsk, Tallinn and Amsterdam Engineering Hubs. The company is successfully using Scala as the main programming language for their back-end services.


They are actively recruiting Scala Engineers in Minsk, Riga and Tallinn – offering interesting projects and a modern technology stack, not only on the back-end but also on the front-end (using TypeScript, React, Redux, MobX, Babylon.js and WebGL). Check out their current vacancies:


Evolution has offices in 15 countries and Engineering Hubs in Latvia, the Netherlands, Estonia and Belarus.



How does Evolution implement Scala programming language in their daily work?


Juris, you went all out there and called Scala an elegant and powerful programming language. What made you fall in love and how did you implement Scala into your everyday work?

We have been successfully using Scala at Evolution since 2013. Initially we started using Scala in unit tests, but over time, we realised that the code we write in Scala has higher quality than our Java code. 

It was also easier to maintain due to a more advanced type system. Besides, we added Akka to our technology stack and Akka can be used more naturally from Scala.

Overall, the developers liked Scala, and we have successfully transitioned our codebase into modern and functional Scala code, which also involved the migration of other technology stack components: from Java and Hazelcast, Hibernate, Spring and JSP frameworks to Scala and Akka, including Akka Persistence. We split the monolithic application into microservices that communicate with each other using Kafka. The integration had to be carried out gradually while the system remained production.



How did you stumble upon Scala? What exactly charmed you?

I started learning Scala in late 2012. At the time, I was looking for a “better Java”, and while I was programming in Groovy, it seemed both a step forward and back compared to Java. 

At first, the learning curve for Scala seemed steep. I was reading some complicated library code, understanding very little, and thinking that “this really uses operator overloading too much”. But then I finished the Coursera course “Functional Programming in Scala” by “the father of Scala” Martin Odersky and fell in love with the language. 

I like the compile-time type checking features that well written Scala code has. The compiler helps you do various refactoring very efficiently, guiding the developer from working code to working code, without breaking anything. The probability that “if your code compiles, it works” is really high in Scala.


What are the main benefits of using Scala? 

Scala leads to better code and happier developers. The absolute majority of our developers who have become proficient in Scala are no longer interested in moving back to their previous languages.

Scala is a general-purpose back-end (server-side) language, and you can do everything in it that you could do in Java. It has good interoperability with existing Java code, as well as excellent frameworks for developing distributed, low-latency systems. 

Scala supports the functional programming (FP) paradigm, which leads to more maintainable code. 

The average proficiency of Scala developers is very high – if a developer decides to move out of the “comfort zone” and migrate to Scala, he or she is probably interested in developing skills and writing good code. 

Using Scala.js you can develop for the front-end – thus Scala can also do most things that Javascript or Typescript can. Scala.js is a Scala transpiler to JavaScript, allowing development in Scala for the browser. This allows the applications to be isomorphic – both the back-end and front-end written in Scala, with code that can be reused between them. 

We at Evolution have one of the most advanced Scala.js projects in production, which manages the work schedules of our 8000 game presenters world-wide. 


But surely, there must be some drawbacks?

True, the main drawbacks of Scala are slow compilation times and a rather steep learning curve.


Is the language still evolving? What are the future prospects for Scala?

Scala is an evolving language with a vibrant ecosystem, including many open source contributors. The new version of Scala language, “Scala 3” adds many desired features and improves existing ones.

However, not only the language is evolving but also new libraries are being introduced, such as ZIO and Cats Effect 3. Besides that, the community is finding new, useful ways to write Scala code, such as with the Tagless Final approach. The prospects are very good indeed.

If a software engineering enthusiast is reading this, then why should they learn Scala? 

Learning Scala is certainly the right choice! It will make you into a better developer even if you do not stick with it. I wish more universities taught Scala to students. The closest language commonly taught is Haskell.

Haskell is an important functional programming language and functional Scala borrows a lot from it. But there are fewer Haskell vacancies, and it is used less often in production. The language itself is beautiful, but the ecosystem is lagging.



You say that Scala is pretty rarely taught in universities. Where should one start then?

I believe that the Kernighan & Ritchie quote “The only way to learn a new programming language is by writing programs in it” is very true.

So you must write code. Every day. Start with simple tasks from HackerRank or similar sites. Continue with more and more complicated tasks and systems, especially ones that help you solve problems you yourself care about. Contribute to open source. 

I think Scala is quite easy to pick up if used as a “better Java with some syntactic sugar”. If used in an idiomatic Functional Programming-style, it also becomes a matter of learning Functional Programming and how to apply it using Scala.



As Evolution is such a powerful hub for Scala, is there any opportunity to come and learn the language from your team?

Participating in Scala bootcamps can help you learn faster from experienced mentors. All you need for participating is fundamental programming knowledge and a desire to learn – previous Scala or Functional programming experience is not required. Our bootcamp showed that people want to learn Scala. We received almost 500 applications this summer for the Scala Bootcamp in Riga! 

Previously there were fewer learning materials and it was easier to just say “start with the ‘red book’ by Chiusano and Bjarnason” but many excellent authors have now published books and tutorials.

Thus we have collected, in our opinion, links to the best Scala learning resources. Find them in the “Learning resources” section. We constantly keep them up to date.



Looking for new adventures? Try out MeetFrank today


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