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‘True freedom is not having to own a car’: How Markus Villig created Bolt

While searching for a tech idea that could help people and make money, Bolt founder and CEO Markus Villig realised that attitudes towards owning a car had changed and there was a new way to get around, writes Andy Martin

Saturday 12 December 2020 13:40
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<p>Bolt CEO and founder Markus Villig</p>

Bolt CEO and founder Markus Villig

His parents weren’t too happy about him dropping out of his university computer science course to devote himself to his techie start-up. “And what was even more difficult was persuading them to lend me a few thousand euros to hire an engineer,” says Markus Villig. I imagine they’re not too sorry they did, since their 26-year old son is founder and CEO of Bolt, the ride/drive platform, and they are now “probably the most successful investors in Estonia”.

The young Markus was brought up on an island in the Baltic Sea, but he and his parents moved to Tallinn, the capital, when he was eight. He was sure he was going to be a scientist. He was top in maths and physics. His dad had a degree in computing from the University of Moscow and his mum was a professor, and they convinced him that “logic and science were the path to world progress”.

And then something happened, in 2004, that completely changed his world view. It was called Skype – founded in Estonia, by a Swede, a Dane and several Estonians. It was the biggest thing to hit Estonia since the Reformation. Villig was aged 10 and his older brother was one of Skype’s first employees.

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