Lithuania, PVcase’s homeland, is an increasingly bright spot on the global startup map. We have two giant unicorns, namely Vinted and Nord Security, that exploded all over the globe and brought new investments and opportunities to our country. Inga Langaite, CEO at Unicorns Lithuania, a Lithuanian startup association, elaborates more on the Lithuanian startup job market context.

Inga Langaite, CEO at Unicorns Lithuania

Currently, we face a post-pandemic trend of returning to offices from more flexible remote work. How do you think this tendency will affect the job market? Do you expect a significant employee migration to remote jobs? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of such a tendency?

The strength of startups is the ability to quickly and flexibly react to changing conditions, which is also reflected in their work culture. Despite the pandemic-caused need to work remotely, I increasingly hear plans to create conditions to encourage employees to return to the offices. So, most startups today adopt a hybrid work model.

Although remote work has opened up wider opportunities, it is not suitable and attractive for everyone, so there shouldn’t be a mass shift to remote employment in startups. The walls of the work office do not limit startups — the aim is to find what works best in a specific situation, ensuring the freedom of choice for each employee.

How do you think the Lithuanian startup scene is different from the others? What makes it unique?

When we talk to startup developers and try to understand why the Lithuanian startup ecosystem shows such clear and consistent growth, we often stop at the same idea — we haven’t lost the hunger yet. We have not had enough success, global markets, products, opportunities, and creativity. A strong power that leads forward is an urge to do more, to show Lithuania as an example to others, and to innovate and surprise the world.

Until 2020 the Lithuanian startup ecosystem showed potential signs of solid growth. However, the pandemic years catalyzed the processes even more. In 2021, Lithuanian startups attracted a record amount of investments. The ecosystem continues to thrive despite the current geopolitical and economic situations. Investors call our country a hidden gem.

A few numbers – compared to the end of 2020, the amount of startups has increased by one-third. We also have two new unicorns and a 60 percent increase in startup staff. In Central Europe, Lithuania has the second fastest-growing startup ecosystem after Croatia. Between 2017 and 2022, our startup value has increased almost 17 times and currently amounts to 9.5 billion euros, as per Dealroom data. Moreover, in 2022 Lithuanian startups attracted 295 million euros of investments and increased sales revenue by 4 percent up to 2.6 billion euros. Currently, more than 800 startups actively operate in Lithuania, employing 17,400 people. They paid 297 million euros of taxes to the state budget. It is 51 percent or 100 million euros more than a year ago.

How do you see the situation in renewable energy startups in the Baltics? Is there a noticeable increase in recent years?

I am sure that the shift to green energy is an opportunity for Lithuania to become independent from third-party energy sources. While EU politicians expect to achieve climate impact neutrality by 2050, Lithuanians plan that renewable energy resources will make up at least 90 percent of the country’s total energy consumption by 2030. Transition to fully renewable energy and green technologies is inevitable. Therefore we must concentrate and display leadership.

In the international context and in Lithuania, energy startups are desirable partners and attract exceptional attention from investors. We are talking about the possibility of attracting not only investments but also a progressive attitude to our country.

What are the main criteria for the startup to be successful? Is there a need/trend for a particular type of startup?

I’ll allow myself to joke that a unicorn is just a hard-working horse with a sword held high in your aspirations and dreams. So, above all, the right attitude is to stay enthusiastic, to be brave and open-minded, to strive more each day, to make connections, and to use every possibility to grow.

We often associate startups with success in Lithuania, but 9 out of 10 startups fail. However, successful startups and unicorns disrupt traditional markets, change habits, shape global trends, and offer radically new value propositions — this always remains relevant.

What is most important for current job seekers at the moment? Do you think the priorities have changed over the last few years?

We notice that Lithuanians are very active and curious but, at the same time, modest and extremely hard-working. The most important thing for talent is a job that creates value, an environment that allows development and relations, a competitive salary, and clear growth opportunities. All this puts startup employees ahead of their colleagues and enables them to make changes for millions worldwide.

According to Unicorns Lithuania, the average salary in Lithuanian startups today is 3,500 euros before taxes and grew by 21 percent last year. However, this is only the median. The highest salary in 2022 was paid by such startups as Game Insight (9,440 euros (+21 percent compared to 2021)), Wargaming (7,680 euros (+103% compared to 2021)), and Tesonet Accelerator (7,600 euros (+12 percent compared to 2021)). At the same time, various bonuses are offered to employees, such as health insurance, extra days off, unlimited learning budget, opportunities to work remotely, workations, app subscriptions for mental well-being, free snacks, or housekeeping services.

What are the biggest challenges that Lithuanian startups currently face? What are the most significant future challenges?

Although we are on the right track, we still have challenges, for example, to increase the visibility of Lithuania. For our Estonian neighbors, the mere fact that they are Estonian opens many doors worldwide. We try hard to make Lithuania known as a strong startup and technology ecosystem. We have noticed that if an international investor invests in a functioning Lithuanian startup, it automatically opens the door to the entire local ecosystem. Lithuania is a very small country where everyone knows everybody. And successful initial investments lead to more and more sustainable investments.

Entrepreneurs and business people still suffer from negative stereotyping in our society. To break this stereotype, we should talk about what we give, not what we want to take from the state budget. This is a paradigm shift. We initiate dialogues that create value for all their participants.

In the short term, we expect more carefully planned investments and a decrease in growth and employment. However, Lithuania has never been spoiled by investors’ attention, which made us look for alternative business models. You don’t think about rapid growth at any cost like in the US, but also consider profitability, sustainability, independence, and lasting value. So, in the long run, challenges turn into opportunities.

Will we have more giants like Nord Security or Vinted in the future? Or maybe there will be smaller startups focusing on the more local markets?

There is no single direction here. Global statistics show that the more startups a country has, the more unicorns it can expect. The association aims not only to increase the size of the startup ecosystem but also to ensure that startups operating in Lithuania become an essential part of the country’s economic growth engine. In other words, we encourage startups to create the future of Lithuania, our modern and progressive state.

What should HR specialists know when hiring new employees? What do you think are the challenges they face now?

In the technology sector, we notice a slowdown in employee hiring growth. Sustainability, stable company growth, and a stable workplace are becoming increasingly important. This is an opportunity for Lithuania, where many startups rely on their own capital rather than external investments.

One of the biggest challenges for HR is attracting women to the technology sector. Lithuania has way too few women in the tech sector — there is a lack of founders, managers, board members, and other specialists who would add lots of value. Talking about gender equality in the technology sector, I don’t mean fighting against something or asking for additional support — women don’t need all this. We are talking about untapped opportunities and talent potential. Eurostat data shows that 23.7 percent of Lithuanian information and communication technology sector (ICT) employees are women. In addition, it is predicted that by 2025 the share of women working in ICT in Lithuania will increase to 27 percent. We need to promote change through inspiring examples and changing internal and external attitudes.

What are the significant changes in the startup market within the last 3-4 years?

Based on what I see in Estonia or Israel, we only need more success stories, investments, and talent to feed back into the ecosystem. As this spiral moves, other startups will grow organically, and more unicorns will be born. The importance of companies creating innovative and globally competitive high-value products will certainly not decrease in the future. This is what makes a country of unicorns.

Why work at PVcase?

PVcase occupies a unique spot in our startup ecosystem, especially when energy independence is vital to Lithuania and Europe, and renewables are becoming more widely employed globally. All this, combined with the dynamic situation in our startup sector, makes PVcase an exciting spot to get involved.

Get involved in our thriving startup scene with PVcase and participate in the change towards a better and cleaner world. PVcase is one of the fastest-growing companies attracting international attention and global recognition. The biggest renewable companies trust us.

We offer:

  • Competitive salaries
  • Fully remote work possibilities
  • Constant growth and exciting challenges
  • Lots of perks and bonuses, such as additional days off
  • Supportive and fun team

Check our open positions here.