Interview with Garage48 HUB Tallinn manager Jane Muts

This interview is part of our series of chats with Estonian start-ups. This time we met with Jane Muts from Garage48 Hub Tallinn.


Hi Jane. Tell us a little about Garage48. What do you do?

Garage48 is a series of hackathons, which has a mission to create new startups. Although our goal is to create startups that have the potential of becoming real companies, we also welcome participants who just want to build “fun” products during the event.

The 48-hour long hackathon gathers people with various skill-sets to develop working prototypes. At the hackathon participants pitch ideas, form teams and work until the very last hours in order to get the working prototypes and business concept ready! The teams are set up of at least one back-end developers, front-end developer, designer, marketer and visionary project manager. We believe this is winning combination in order to create products or services for the market, which are functional, innovative and in demand.

Why do you do it?

The world is changing very fast and constantly evolving towards a smarter and more dynamic market. Many big companies find it difficult to respond and adapt to these changes, as it takes lots of their resources and new way of thinking. At the same, the market is ruthless, meaning if the companies cannot give the customers what they need, they will go somewhere else.

As the market is very volatile, it is a great opportunity for startups to develop products what the other companies cannot and what the customers actually want. This is an opportunity for the startups to act and fill a certain gap in the market with innovations, or why not create something completely new and exciting for the world?

Additionally, many people feel at some point in their life that they have ideas that they could now execute. But as soon as they start “working on their dreams”, they realize it is actually very hard to find team members, validate the idea for the market, build the actual product, get feedback, mentoring etc. This is why a lot of entrepreneurs turn to Garage48 to pitch their idea, find a team and work with experienced mentors, who help them to build the MVP.

How did Garage48 get started?

Garage48 was funded by 4 amazing co-founders, who are passionate about technology, startups and people. The idea came when they were tired of talking and dreaming of their own companies, as many entrepreneurs spend too much time on talking, thinking and doing irrelevant things. They thought: “there must be a faster way to build a product”. Which is why they decided to organize a hackathon with hackers to finally deliver the first prototype. The hackathon was inspired by the Silicon Valley IT entrepreneurs, who have all started out in a garage. The rest is history.

What were the main difficulties you experienced starting up?

In the beginning it was difficult to get sponsors that would finance the event, as it is very expensive to host an almost 3-day event and to keep all the participants fed, informed and happy. As the event became more popular, it was easier to find sponsors and more people to participate, which really helped to grow the community. Now we have partners, sponsors, mentors and participants all around the world, which is the result of many years of work and dedication.

What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned?

You need to work with people that you can trust. As a hackathon involves lots of people the most crucial thing is to have people around that you can trust and “go through water and fire with”.

How difficult is it to „internationalize“ your product?  What is Garage48’s role in all this?    

Garage48 now organizes events in 4 continents and 14+ countries, which is a real dream come true. At Garage48 we want to inspire people to make more with their life, to become better at what they do and build amazing startups for the global market!

Being global also gives just a little idea how the difference in cultures can be different in each country can be. We would recommend to find a trustworthy local partner with a proven track record. As you cannot organize a large-scale event from home if you don’t know the language and the local way of operating. Which is why you need to rely on partners that you can work with and trust then to bits.

Estonian start-up scene has exploded in recent years. Why? What is so special about the Estonian start-up climate?

Estonians by nature are very hard-working. Estonians haven’t had many resources to rely on throughout history. However, families needed to be taken care of and the economy started off somehow.

Estonia had to figure out how, with limited resources, to build an economy. Thorough planning and smart management of resources has enabled Estonians to survive. This is why smart thinking, planning ahead and working with limited resources have helped to instil innovative thinking. Estonia’s main resource is knowledge, which is also why technology and startup entrepreneurship is a perfect fit for the knowledge-led Estonians.


Garage48 HUB is a UK-Estonia TechLink partner. More info on them can be found here.