Mart Lättekivi: "Maybe the midlife crisis just hit me at the age of 24."

Mart Lättekivi is our amazing COO! He has been in the sTARTUp Day family for 3 years now. The first year he was the boy with blonde hair that every volunteer followed, meaning he was the Volunteer Manager. Next year, in addition to leading the volunteers, he was part of the sales team and also the Assistant Head Organizer. As of now, he is the Head Organizer of sTARTUp Talks, the official side event series of sTARTUp Day.

Explain to a child what is your job at sTARTUp Day.

At the moment, I'm focusing on organizing sTARTUp Talks – the side events series of sTARTUp Day. And once it is January, I will be in charge of some areas at sTARTUp Day, for example, the demo area. And also, I'll be organizing the side events program during sTARTUp Day. So you could say, I'm Marili's right-hand man.


After finishing high school, you weren’t sure what to study or what to do next. What are the questions to ask yourself to find out what you want to do in life?

My mom always said that measure nine times and cut once (Estonian proverb). But I'm a practical person, so I decided that measuring two times was just as good. I like to experiment and try new things. When I came to university, I wouldn't have thought in my life that I would find my way to event organizing or the startup world.

First, I started to organize events related to university. Then I had the opportunity to participate in volunteer training in Russia. Soon after that, Ermo invited me to lead the volunteers at sTARTUp Day and that's how it went.


If I were to suggest how to understand what you want to do in life, I'd recommend trying as many new things as possible. I studied the German language and communications at university. At first, I thought I really wanted to study journalism, but the reality is that now I don't want to hear anything about German or journalism. Today, I like what I do and it's all about daring to try new things.


In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I haven't gained many new beliefs, but there are the main principles by which I have lived for quite a few years and that I am aware of now. For example, every man is the blacksmith of his own happiness, and you reap what you sow. These are all very true. You can read the "10 tips on how to get rich" and such, but really there is nothing but hard work and self-development. In recent years, I have strongly embraced the startup mindset. And I feel that I'm starting to understand it more precisely just now. So, for me, the action came before understanding.


Tell me something you are learning right now.

I am currently learning to open up and to be a little more myself, not who I think people want me to be. Recently, I have listened to an audiobook from Brene Brown saying that vulnerability is our strength. And I was very touched by her vision of the midlife crisis. They say that during the midlife crisis, people go crazy and start doing stupid things.

But in fact, it is a spiritual opening and realization that you don't have to be who you don't want to be.

That's why people start buying the motorcycles they've wanted since they were kids. I am trying to skip this stage of life to make the future easier. So, I'm practicing self-discovery very strongly right now to find out who I am, why I am, and what I'm doing. Maybe the midlife crisis just hit me at the age of 24.


What tabs/apps do you have open right now?

Messenger, Google Meet, Chrome, Discord and also my mechanical keyboard management system. In an hour, I'll probably play Modern Warfare.

In the office, you are the one who lifts the spirit with your sense of humor. Tell me a Mart joke.

My jokes are very situation-based. For each of my joke, you should say that you had to be there. But every time someone asks me an anecdote, I tell this one. An earthworm baby comes home from school, enters the room, and sees that his mother is crying. The son asks her: "Why are you crying? Please tell me what happened." And then the mother sheds a tear and says: "Your father went fishing with the men."


If you had one superpower as an event organizer, what would it be and why?

I'd like to manipulate time. Time is the reason why organizing events is among the TOP 5 stressful jobs in the world. Every event has a deadline, and there's always too little time. In less than a week, I already have an event and I have to be ready by then. If I could stop the time and calmly send out all 10 000 emails that would otherwise have to fit in 24 hours, that would be a huge bonus. If I ever get the time-turner from Hermione Granger, it'll be my lucky day.


You’ve been a part of the sTARTUp Day family for 3 years now. What have been the most valuable learning points?

I learn something new every day and that's what I love about my job. I have learned to surround myself with people who are smarter than me. Every day I get to know new people, I learn how to manage budgets, how to use Illustrator to make floor plans. I even made my first logos with it by accident. And it's all simply because I am in a forced situation and I have to do these things. I think this is a great place to be in terms of self-development. Every day is a lesson.


Why do you do what you do?

There are several reasons. From a personal perspective, I do this for self-development. In a broader sense, I have a strong sense of mission. I am actually from Tallinn. I was born and raised in Tallinn and also went to high school here. I moved to Tartu for university and as of today, I am a citizen of Tartu. I have a house, a car, a dog, a partner here – everything is so damn good here.

Mart with Ruudi, our CHO!


And the reason I organize sTARTUp Day is to make life in Tartu even better. I want to share the startup mindset with people. In order to learn to solve problems, everyone should have the winning mentality. People should focus more on solving problems than whining about them. If we solved problems as much as we whine about them, the world would be a brighter place.


Where will sTARTUp Day be in 5 years?

I think in five years sTARTUp Day will be exactly where it needs to be. Certainly, the festival is developing very strongly in terms of quality. From a world perspective, Tartu is quite small. And the event itself is very Tartu-based – even the name "sTARTUp" says that it is local. But, of course, the more international we go, the better and prouder Tartu is. And actually, we do it all for the city.

I don't like to think so far ahead. I prefer to focus on what is now. But if we make the fifth sTARTUp Day the coolest sTARTUp Day, then I think the sixth must be surpassed in the same way in terms of quality. So, let's say that in 5 years, sTARTUp Day is 5 times better!


What makes you excited about the future?

I'm excited about next Wednesday because then the next side event – Sales & Marketing – will take place. The thing I really like about my job is the action that happens on the spot. You see how the event is set up, how the performers arrive, how they mess around with their slides until the last moments just before they go on stage. All this organized chaos going on behind the scenes is so awesome! I'm very excited because we have all these events coming up, and if we can handle this sTARTUp Day under these conditions, then ohh… As you can see, I am very excited.



Hero of the Week is a column focused on inspirational entrepreneurial people around us – their journeys, success stories and lessons learned from failures, goals, inspiration and everything in between. Get inspired and be the Hero of your own life!

On October 28, sTARTUp Talks will blur the lines of Sales & Marketing. Don't miss out! Join us in specialized workshops, learn from world-renowned experts and share ideas with experts in your field.

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