6 min read

Highly independent

Highly independent
Photo by Jean-Benoit Van Haeperen - thank you
Lithuania Tech Weekly #163
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Job board - early-stage Baltic startups - here

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work in progress

  • AI. Tricky to gauge reputation? No more, Repsense team could "read" 150k articles, and will tell you next week how Lithuania is perceived globally. CompOS from Synthesis analyzes brands – and you need to outsmart AI to join their team. RivalSense saves a ton of time to track what your competitors have been doing throughout the week.
  • Outpost SEA. Reading the ambassador's newsletter, noticing Daivaras and Deividas tinkering with Moorio (and other projects). Do we have more Baltic entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia? Ieva is running The Knotty Ones from SG it seems. Reda, the former founder of PlateCulture, is now all into AI and Web3. Justas co-founded Whatnot Innovation & Startup Studio, based in Bangkok. Meelis (ex-Pipedrive) cannot stop building in SG - working with Lingo Champion, Product Loops and more. Who else is worth watching?
  • Fashion. Vinted hits another acquisition, this time Trendsales in Denmark. If they can be successful in unlocking low-cost pan-European logistics, this is going to the moon, friends. So that's resale; on recycling side, H&M and Vargas ("incubator" for Northvolt, H2 Steel) announced Syre, will go after polyester with US-based plant. In the meantime, Gytis is building another fashion empire, just not in clothing. Hiring many.
  • Data, proxies and crawlers. Would anyone like to explain this vertical, key players and opportunities? Eyebrows got lifted when FT1000 showed Oxylabs EUR 60m in revenue. The same happened when we looked into Webrobots profitability. But there is so much more: Coresignal, Smartproxy, Honeygain, Proxy-cheap, Proximy, MarsProxies, Botis, and probably few more.
  • People moves. Giovanni turning his career around – into fractional sales lead service. Vytautas is leaving Hostinger and any comfort zone. Jonas joined Ovoko a while ago, and Irmantas joined HR team there, too. No surprise, we just asked "who is likely to close a growth round this year"
pretty clear, but also we need more options - expecting surprises, too

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rounds and capital

  • Argyle, the leading provider of direct-source income and employment data, announced $30 million funding round C, led by Rockefeller Asset Management’s Fintech Innovation Fund and joined by return investors Bain Capital Ventures, SignalFire, and Checkr. Approx a third of the globally distributed team seems to be in LT, including co-founder and CTO Audrius Zujus.
  • Vinted acquired Danish second-hand marketplace Trendsales, the largest local player (around EUR 13m revenue) - smart entry point for growth. Vinted M&A team keeps our designer busy –

three questions

Tomas Ramanauskas, co-founder, a Phone, a Friend and marketing / branding mastermind (his substack).

Tomas Ramanauskas (left) and Tomas Dirvonskas (right)

What did you set out to do - is it mostly AI play, or software/UX, or perhaps also hardware? 

We wanted to rethink how an AI smartphone might evolve from its current app-focused iterations. There were a lot of ideas from the market on the supporting cast — various assistants, and wearables, but surprisingly few visions on what an app-less phone could be like. Is it even possible?

So we've scratched that itch with a Think-tank. It produced ideas that we made into a concept. a Phone, a Friend is an attempt to envision humanized tech with an enormous AI advancements.

We’re mostly interested in software. But it was way tougher to encapsulate the ideas without some attention to hardware. Funnily enough, we've already had quite a few inquiries for pre-ordering the device.

What gives you confidence that the entire consumer interface - apps we use everyday - is ready for disruption?

As humans, we have insatiable appetites for better things. So we tirelessly ask: "great, what's next?" With technology, we're always in an upgrade mode. So are apps the final frontier, the ideal of how smartphones can operate? Bring in endless possibilities of AI & let’s extaticly envision the future. 

Moving from apps in a blink isn’t possible. It should be a gradual process. A quite basic chat with AI already removes the need for some apps. It is not that big a stretch to imagine a fully operational app-less phone, but, we believe, you still have to do it smoothly, holding users' hands, not scare them. 

Our concept portrays a phone operating in two modes: the usual app environment to feel safe, and a Friend mode, where apps take the backseat, so you can be adventurous with new features.

With a Phone, a Friend we’ll move in incremental steps: first, we'll launch a Radio, a Friend app which is an extremely personalized, AI-generated audio news that you can interact with. News you can talk to. Your own radio stations. This saves your eyes from a lot of screen time, endless scrolls & can even balance out the negativity & anxiety usually associated with the news.

We have a quite ambitious goal to rethink how news is consumed: from being just a passive reader, you can ask questions, inquire to take deeper dive into a piece, adjust the mood, change topics, tune the voice, & follow other news creators. And that's just step #one in whole journey towards a friendlier tech.

How did the founders assemble the team - and what should we know about it?

a Phone, a Friend was not only a concept project, but a warm-up exercise for working with a certain team. We're putting together 8 people, proactive, hungry, but also — experienced. Before becoming co-founders of this start-up, we (me + Tomas Dirvonskas) have worked our asses off launching & running various agencies, or tech enterprises, motivating teams, & producing high-quality results. We did it for ages & now we are ready for enormously greater & greener AI pastures.


Privileged to receive support from a group of core sponsors, who decided to get onboard. All spots taken.

Cloudvisor [AWS partner dedicated to startups], Vinted [largest C2C European marketplace, always hiring], Tech Zity [tech hubs and campuses], Presto Ventures [investing in early-stage B2B startups and marketplaces], 15MIN Group [all the news]

founder's guide

further insights


Spatial resolution matters. Empirical studies of the effects of diversity – in industries, in occupations, in demographics – on innovation, productivity, and economic growth often give divergent answers regarding the value of this diversity. These answers, moreover, appear to be systematically related to the size of the areal units used in measuring diversity and in analyzing the data. At more macro levels, diversity often has little or no relationship to innovation and economic growth. But at more micro levels, diversity appears beneficial.
  • Lessons from the UK - tech is not a regional economic development strategy due to the outlier returns in startups, and the need to diversify for VCs. Incentivizing "search" for startups in specific geo can do more harm. Also – affordable transport is the best way to help.
Regional VC funds awarded to local fund managers who have little experience of scaling tech companies globally, and further handicapping them with non-commercial targets, like job creation. This harms the ecosystem, rather than stokes it.


Early-stage startup jobs, Baltics
Join the leadership team before Series A
(Submit your opening for free)

Joggo - Growth Hacker
Nordcurrent - PR Manager
Ovoko - almost everything
Kilo Health - E-commerce CEO
Katana - Director of Product Marketing
SME Bank - CTO
Burga - Head of Operations