Ajujaht is a competition that is funded by public and private sector. It was initiated by Enterprise Estonia (EAS). SEB bank has been the main sponsor of the competition since the opening season and since 2016 Elisa Eesti is the main supporter.
Why support Ajujaht? “If you want to make something of a good idea, you need good partners,” says Mart Maasik, the Head of Business Innovation with SEB. “Here in the bank we have a lot of experience when it comes to supporting new undertakings. We’ve been doing it for years. Some of the biggest companies in the country today have gotten where they are with a little bit of help from us along the way. But we don’t just finance them – we give them advice, when they’re just starting out and need it, on how to reach the top. Being an entrepreneur isn’t just about being in business: enterprising people create jobs and contribute to a better future. Together we help the economy grow.”
“We share the start-up mindset in a number of ways, really, including in how we run things on a day to day basis,” says Sami Seppänen, the CEO of Elisa. “That might sound like a contradiction in terms for a big, long-established company like ours, but actually it makes what we do a lot more effective. We set a lot of store by enterprise and the next generation, so contributing to exciting ideas in the shape of Ajujaht gives us the chance to keep growing ourselves, too.” Elisa is the major sponsor of Ajujaht, represented both on the jury and in the mentor programme.
Supporters of Ajujaht
“In enterprise the greatest asset you have is people and their willingness to step outside their comfort zone and put themselves to the test,” says Ott Jalakas, one of the founders of Lingvist. “Ajujaht motivates people to do just that and try something new in the process. What that is springs first and foremost from their own interests and wishes, but it might be connected to their dreams, and can even lead them closer to making them come true. Ajujaht gives people the support they need to take such bold steps, and that’s why we in turn want to support the competition.”
"The most difficult part of entrepreneurship is the road from the idea to the first step. Ajujaht has been encouraging and supporting that. Funderbeam supports progressiveness and supports growth."
“People who are starting their own businesses need to be aware of what’s at stake if key contracts go unsigned or documents are unclear in legal terms,” cautions Ergo Blumfeldt, a partner in the law firm Triniti. “Whenever a representative of a start-up steps into our office, there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll tell us they didn’t draw up a proper shareholders’ agreement. After the fact, those sorts of situations can end up costing the founders dearly. Someone could walk off with intellectual property, or demand an unjustifiably large share, or anything really. We joined Ajujaht so that the teams taking part wouldn’t face issues like that.”
“We support Ajujaht because we see it as being very beneficial in the development of the entrepreneurial environment here in Pärnu,” says Katrin Õunap, a public relations adviser with Pärnu City Government. “Innovation awareness and product and technology development are really important to us. Thanks to the competition we get to support forward-thinking ideas and to bring the knowledge and experience it pools to those just starting out in business here in the city.”
Tartu City Government supports Ajujaht in order to contribute to the development of enterprise in the city of good thoughts. It also awards a special prize for the establishment of innovative new companies in Tartu.
Tallinn has been supporting Ajujaht since the competition was first launched. It does so in order for start-ups to be able to breathe new life into the Estonian economy.
“Through Ajujaht we channel the resources the local authority has at its disposal into social changes the community considers important,” explains Saue Municipal Mayor Andres Laisk. “Quite a few initiatives that have given new meaning to the rural economy have gotten their start in the competition. One micro-company worth mentioning is HoneyPower, which is based here in the municipality. The best example is arguably Timbeter, which won Ajujaht three years ago – it’s exporting its products to Lithuania and even as far afield as New Zealand. We want to see the people living in our newly merged municipality putting their minds to it and coming up with things that will make the rest of the world a better place from right here in Saue.”
“We encourage people here in our neck of the woods to submit their own ideas to the competition,” says Harku Municipal Mayor Kaupo Rätsepp. “Ajujaht represents a great opportunity to foster local enterprise, and it inspires young people and school kids here in the municipality to start their own businesses.” Harku municipality sponsors a special prize valued at up to 5000 euros for the best team taking part in the competition in which at least one member is a resident of the municipality.
“Often what holds employers back is the misconception that hiring people with reduced capacity for work requires lots of extra investment and reorganisation. Through Ajujaht we want to overturn that myth and help find solutions that contribute to the broader inclusion in society of people with reduced capacity for work.”
The Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce provides expertise, advice and recommendations in support of ideas promoting rural life.
“The way we work with Ajujaht is to provide mentorship in the earliest stage of an entrepreneurial undertaking, to analyse and assess the scalability of ideas and to give the most promising teams the chance to grow and turn their ideas into success stories that can change the world,” explains Katre Uusmaa, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Tehnopol. “Supporting Ajujaht is a modest investment we can make so that the number of strong start-ups in Estonia keeps on growing.”