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A startup journey from LA to Estonia and back again

A startup journey from LA to Estonia and back again

Ever thought on working abroad? Taking a Jobbatical? Teleporting yourself to a new country? That’s something Erik did when he came all the way from LA to work at Startup Wise Guys in Estonia.

This happened in March 2014. For two years, he was living in Tallinn, Estonia. Having great time and working at Startup Wise Guys accelerator. But now it’s time to move on. First Erik’s going back to LA. And then only time will show what’ll happen next.

Before stepping on a plane, Erik wanted to share some of his thoughts on Estonia, accelerators and working abroad.

Why did you leave LA for Estonia?

That’s probably the top FAQ for anyone who has moved to Estonia. For me, it was a fairly easy decision which came down to “Life Equity”. I had already moved to London, working at Techstars, before coming to Tallinn. But the opportunity came at the time, when the job was everything I was seeking.

Startup Wise Guys offered travel (a lot of it), the adventure of living in a completely different world (…Estonia) and an opportunity to have more influence within an ecosystem than I’d have had in other places (LA or London).

What’s your philosophy on working abroad?

Working abroad has done wonders personally and professionally. It’s been tough to stay connected with everyone back home but the opportunity to have life experience in a place as unique as Tallinn has been special. If it would’ve turned out to be terrible, I wouldn’t have had to stay forever. Instead it turned out to be awesome and I was able to stay there for two years.

I was also lucky to meet great people. Estonians and ex-pats. So it’s been an authentic experience shared with others for the first time. That would’ve been harder to do (but not impossible) closer to home. Therefore I wouldn’t change anything.

What are your tips for being in an accelerator?

  • Choose wisely. Don’t settle for just any accelerator!
  • Don’t worry about the valuation. Accelerator dilution is massive in later rounds. Most investors will understand.
  • Learn how to communicate effectively. People spend too much time trying to explain what they do.
  • Hire above your weight! Life will be easier. Create a dream list and make it happen. If this startup is your life, why settle?
  • Make friends outside of technology. The world is massive and the tech bubble we live in is tiny. Perspective is beautiful and opportunities come from random places.
  • Sweat a few times each week and no, sauna doesn’t count (but go for it as well).

What are your favourite spots in Tallinn/Estonia?

  • Food – Spicy coconut soup from Sesoon (The bread from Pegasus is also special).
  • Coffee – Kohvik August – best coffee in Estonia.
  • Drink – Gin & Tonic from Manna la Roosa.
  • Party – Kanala (RIP).
  • Place – There’s a great trampoline in Häädemeeste.

What’s next?

See Also

That’s a long story 😉

Hopefully there will be enough press and that question answers itself. I’ll definitely take a couple months to spend time with friends and family back in LA.

Also, feel free to reach out anytime –


This article was originally posted on the Startup Wiseguys blog.

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