A survey carried out by Startup Estonia and the Estonian Startup Leaders Club indicates that Estonian startups have enough capital for two to five months.
Startup Estonia director Marika Truu said that the Estonian startup sector is in a good position considering the current crisis, and startups have stated that they are likely to survive for the next few months.
"Estonian startup businesses currently have sufficient financial buffers for two to five months, which means that they will need to attract additional investments within the next couple of months," Truu said in a press release, noting that investors have become more cautious and their criteria stricter. "That means that startups may not get any fast decisions, which are a matter of survival for them."
Altogether 29 percent of survey respondents said that their capital was sufficient for up to five months, while the buffers of 21 percent of respondents will only get them through the next two moths. Half of respondents may experience liquidity problems in the near future.
Of the respondents, 65 percent have cut their costs, 19 percent have laid off employees, and 34 percent have reduced salaries.
While 36 percent of startups participating in the survey said they see growth opportunities in the current crisis, 63.4 percent are prepared to reduce their expenses further and lay off workers if the crisis does not end in April. 24 percent of respondents said they are planning layoffs, while 15 percent of these indicated that these layoffs will likely concern 30-50 percent of their employees.
"At the end of last year, Estonian startups employed altogether 5,944 people and paid €77 million in labor taxes during the year," Truu highlighted.
Sten Tamkivi, vice president of the Estonian Startup Leaders Club, said that if the crisis should last for longer than two months, short-term measures are required to guarantee liquidity for startups until their next scheduled capital-raising activities.
"If this crisis proves lengthy, co-investments with private investors could be weighed similarly to the [state-run Estonian] Development Fund model, which functioned well during the previous crisis," Tamkivi said.
He noted that Kredex subsidiary and national venture capital fund manager SmartCap could also be involved in crisis resolution, as it has the competence required for developing crisis measures for the startup sector.
Unlike regular businesses, many startups are ineligible for bank loans due to their lack of assets and stable revenue, Tamkivi said. While 22 percent of startups said they hope to make use of the measures available through Kredex, 23 percent indicated that they do not qualify due to state aid rules.
"Existing Kredex measures cover most Estonian businesses and sectors; however, Estonia's startup sector needs separate measures, which should be developed in cooperation between market participants and the government," Tamkivi added.
The survey was conducted among 100 Estonian startups, 85 percent of which are in the idea, seed or early stage.
Editor: Aili Vahtla