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The unveiling of the new "Unicorn" tram stop in Vilnius, Source: Vilnius Municipality / Olga Posaškova

Vilnius honours local start-up unicorns with bus stop name

Vilnius honours local start-up unicorns with bus stop name

The symbolism belies the city’s vision to transform the Naujamiestis district into a globally-known tech industry centre

Recently, Lithuania got its second unicorn start-up, when locally-based company Nord Security achieved 1 billion euros in market value, making the small Baltic country into a serious contender in the new digital economy. In light of this, and to link it to the construction of the so-called Cyber City in the area, the local authorities have renamed four public transport stops to bear the name “Unicorn” (Vienaragių in Lithuanian).

This Unicorn stop symbolizes Vilnius and, I believe, will inspire Vilnius residents even more. In the heart of the rapidly reviving Naujamiestis (New Town), two of our unicorns have settled - the new billion-dollar start-ups Vinted and Nord Security,” commented Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of the city on the occasion.

Unicorns – mythical creatures, very real companies

Highly successful start-ups with a market value of more than 1 billion euros are called unicorns. In 2019, the first unicorn in Lithuania, Vinted, attracted 128 million in the last round of investments and thus increased its market value to more than € 1 billion euros. The second unicorn has been waiting for three years to materialize. This was the cyber security solutions company Nord Security announced that it has attracted 100 million US dollars of funding, which has increased the value of the company to USD 1.6 billion. 

It is up to such enterprises that are expected to be the engines pulling the new and transforming European economy ahead. Very much the same way the Industrial Revolution transformed it back in the 19th century. That is why Naujamiestis, the former Soviet industrial site is now being given a facelift to make it cosier, and more livable but also more productive with an appeal to start-ups.

According to data from the association Unicorns Lithuania, there are currently 766 active start-ups in Lithuania. In just one quarter, their total numbers rose by 4 percent.

"It is estimated that one unicorn grows from an average of 300 start-ups. We are working to have more unicorns and start-ups in Lithuania. Although we like to call stories like Vinted or Nord Security in Lithuania success, in fact, they are not about success, but about perseverance, diligence, consistency and hunger for challenges. Lithuanians really stand out in that, and support from the outside also inspires them not to stop,” explains the head of Unicorns Lithuania, Inga Langaitė.

The public transit stop as an encouragement

People waiting for public transport at the Unicorn stops will be able to read and learn about the benefits of the start-up ecosystem. In this way, we want to encourage every young business in Vilnius to become a unicorn because favourable conditions have been created in this city. 

However, achieving unicorn status is not easy, as seen from the above data. Milda Mitkutė and Justas Janauskas, for example, founded Vinted in 2008 in order to sell second-hand clothing to a circle of people close to them. Eventually, interest grew into an international platform that is currently used by as many as 15 million European and global consumers.

Nord Security was also established in 2008 but took more tries to get it right. In fact, it first offered 34 unsuccessful products to the market before coming up with NordVPN, which struck the right note with a fast-growing global industry for secure internet traffic.

Vinted already has its base near the Unicorn public transit stop, and Nord Security will soon relocate there.

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