Arias & Thompson at Latitude59
Ian is the founder of Arias & Thompson Digital, an Estonian eResident, and a frontend developer.
Arias & Thompson has been a registered company in Estonia through the Nordic country’s E-Residency program since April of 2017. We were invited to Tallinn by the E-Residency government program to attend the country’s flagship tech event, Latitude59 that was held between May 24-25 in the capital Tallinn in order to demonstrate a use-case and the possibility of success that can be had using E-Residency.
The post that gained us this opportunity is available via our founder’s Medium blog here.
What is Latitude59?
Latitude59 is Estonia’s flagship startup and tech conference that features speakers leading tech innovation in northern Europe and further abroad, investors looking to provide seed or later stage funding, and a whole host of startup tech companies ranging from local Estonian ventures to individuals from further abroad.
In other words, Latitude is a startup founder’s dream injected with a spike of Estonian entrepreneurship.
Housed in Kultuurikatel, Tallinn’s old power plant near the Baltic Sea, the venue is absolutely breathtaking. The old brick walls matched with modern tech startup demonstrators reproduce the feeling of the city: old architecture meets digital society.
Arias & Thompson Role in Latitude59
Arias & Thompson was invited through our participation in a competition designed to demonstrate our use of the E-Residency program that Estonia offers. Once there, our main principal and development lead Ian Philip Thompson had the opportunity to meet with individuals interested in the E-Residency program to learn what it means, how it can be used, and if it is suited to their use cases. Additionally we were there to meet new contacts, generate new business, but most importantly immerse ourselves in Estonian startup culture.
A Meaningful Breakfast
As part of our participation in Latitude59 we were invited to a morning breakfast featuring the Managing Director of the E-Residency program, Kaspar Korjus, the youngest minister in Swedish history Aida Hadžialić, Arnaud Castaignet, Head of Public Relations for E-Residency and the former Digital Strategist and Communications Officer for President François Hollande of France, fellow E-Residents Ian Wagner of Stadia Maps and Gabriel Stürmer of Cupcake Entertainment and a number of local media outlets looking to learn more about the E-Residency program.
Besides our obvious demonstration that E-Residents were in fact real people, the conversation turned to a very serious tone regarding the nature of open governments, new initiatives that could be coming from neighbouring Baltic and Nordic states, and how education can feature in new tech developments.
Letting go of us being the oldest people in the room, we could not be more than impressed in the goals, initiatives and other topics covered. As current residents of UK the topics discussed were cutting edge and contrary to many opinions that are prevailing today. Open borders, transient, nomadic populations and disparities within Estonia regarding digital adoption were all touched on. Although challenging, one could not only marvel at the level of conversation amongst the youth of the country, the future of Estonia and the broader area.
This experience has led me to one conclusion: the future of Estonia will be bright.
E-Residents and Immigration
Among the E-Residents I met during the event, one prevailing commonality was that we all loved Estonia, Tallinn in particular. The question becomes how you deal with a number of global citizens who not only enjoy the digital services provided by the Estonian government, but also are looking to relocate, either temporarily or permanently, to Tallinn. This was not the intention of the E-Residency program, however it is becoming more and more common as more E-Resident’s are “forced” to visit Tallinn to open bank accounts. Turns out, after we visit, we all love it.
A point raised by Kaspar Korjus both during the breakfast and during his moderation during the Latitude59 conference was, could an E-Residency program be the precursor to full immigration? Could this be innovation in immigration? If a talented person likes the services a government offers, could they choose to immigrate? In other words, should governments be adopting similar approaches to Estonia in order to attract specific groups of people or talent in similar ways that large companies already do?
In fact, Estonia is currently looking into creating a year long nomadic visa for people like us to spend a year in Estonia working remotely. When we are done in Manchester, this could be an option!