Tõnis Kask | Passionate photographer, entrepreneur, code & growth wizard


I'm Tõnis. An entrepreneur, code and growth wizard. Passionate photographer (to escape my workaholic CEO life). Published, international & traveling. Dad to 4.

Hi, I'm Tõnis!

Even though this site is about my photos, I can’t say I’m a photographer.

I just happen to love taking pictures. Mostly of nice landscapes, and nice people.

In daily life I’m an entrepreneur. To help my businesses to win, I’ll do whatever it takes. So quite often I re-incarnate as a full-stack programmer, database architect, designer, or a marketing wizard. Sounds sketchy (and too bold), but I like to think that everything I touch turns to gold.

On this page you will find some interesting bits of information about my journey. Hopefully it’s a good foundation on helping even more people in the future.

If you believe I could give you any advice, or you would like to have a photoshoot with me, reach me out!

First steps in business

It’s usual that kids in US have lemonade stands as their first business. But when a kid from Estonia (occupied by Soviets), at the age of 9, gets foreign bubblegum somehow, it’s considered a true miracle. And what would a kid do with something so rare and exclusive? Consuming it is definitely an option. But better is to sell it. With a margin. With a seriously good margin. In school.

Little did I know that making business was a criminal offence. And doing it in school? Somehow my dad talked me out of this mess. But the desire for money did stay, especially as I was somehow able to keep the profits 😉

Second try

When Richard Branson was growing Christmas trees as a kid, then by the age of 13, I had my very own plant nursery, with 10 000 hawthorn trees. The business plan was simple – plant the trees, grow them for few years, sell. Unfortunately the company who was willing to buy them went into bankruptcy. And so the plan to have real estate at the city by the age of 16 failed.

Still, I was able to sell a bunch of those trees every spring for a few years, using magazine ads. Eventually made a small profit. Looking back… it took 5 full weeks every summer, for 3 years in a row, from early morning till late evening, to keep those trees clean from the weed. If this venture taught me anything, it was not being afraid of hard work.

Learning to code

The initial push for me to write software came from my it-teacher in High School. He was my first customer and paid real cash for the e-school solution (running on DOS), where teachers were able to store grades, and it printed grade certificates. Soon after that I got my first gig in commerce too and made the transport optimisation solution for a local bus company.

After sending my very first e-mail in 1994 (to Jaan Tallinn, who co-founded Skype 7 years after that), I got a crush for the Internet. It was still in baby shoes, but it didn’t matter. Just one hour to download a song? Cool! I was convinced – this will rule the world one day.

Forestry apps

While at high high school, at the end of 90’s, I got my first official employment contract. In a state forestry company, as a programmer. I was able to work remotely, though back then it sounded like a lingo from Star Wars.

At some point my department was closed, but I had enough confidence to say that I can make things happen with code. So together with my father, who had enormous knowledge in forestry management, we started making small programs for forestry companies. Today we would call them apps – tiny simple programs solving one specific problem.

We held a portfolio with 8 apps, one of which was a complete HRM solution with staff scheduling. At peak times, about 50% of all state-owned forestry units were using at least one of our tools.

The only thing I regret is that I didn’t invent the SaaS model and recurring revenue secrets 😉

Music - my secret passion

At high school I somehow found my path to music, too. With computer, which was something extraordinary at those days (1996). I managed to get connections and found myself in the leading music studio, Orbital Vox. With some well-known producers I released a handful of tracks. Some of them ended up in the dance music top charts, radio playlists, tv shows, and on the “Hit Collection” CDs.

At some point I didn’t have enough time for this, at least not enough to be on the top. Still, music has been in my heart since and there are still so many melodies in my head… Sometimes I have to fight myself not to get into it again. So far I have been strong. But should one of my kids come and tell me they wish to become a star, I probably couldn’t resist to help them 😉

My first software business

When my university-brothers had enormous plans (like Priit Alamäe started creating Nortal, the biggest development company in Nordics, and Taavi Rõivas prepared to become the prime minister of Estonia), I had kind of a small dream (compared to them). I wanted to create and sell my own software.

And so, in the year 2001, I launched my first app and became one of the first companies in Baltics that charged credit cards online.

At it’s peak, TK8 Software had over half a million daily users in 71 countries.

This company enabled me to understand what it takes to make solid software products, provide awesome support, and become a winning international player in the field.

Winning with accounting software

Having the understanding of how to make successful apps, I was also invited to join the forces with a team with great B2B vision. We wanted to make the accounting software so easy that every entrepreneur could use it, even without an accountant.

Our team started small, from scratch, and with tight budget. So we had to fill many positions. Which is nothing unusual for startup people. At times I was a developer, senior architect, designer, and someone helping with sales strategies and marketing too. What a great position to be in!

Luckily, our vision was solid and we grew rapidly. At some point we discovered that about 50% of all Estonian companies were using our product. So we expanded to Finland and Poland. Today, we have over 65 000 companies using our products in those countries.

After the successful acquisition in 2018, Merit is now part of the Visma group – one of the largest software companies in Europe. And I was honoured to become the CEO.

Crypto - our future

After amortizing a computer in 2010 that mined “only” 25 BTC per month, I forgot the crypto-world for years.

In 2017 I got hooked again and invested in a small but effective cryptocurrency mining farm. This has allowed me to understand how POW & POS works for blockchain and how to use this technology in other fields.

My journey in photography

Years Ago, when I was burned out (again) from 70+ hour workweeks, I decided to get myself a new hobby. Something that would get me away from computers.

Recalling my childhood days with dad in his darkroom, developing photos on film, I decided to get into photography (boy was I naive about computers at that point). So I got myself a DSLR and went out to take pictures. In manual mode. Which required to start learning. A lot.

At some point, crawling forums and communities, I started to notice trends and problems photographers had. And so the entrepreneurial spirit in me started wondering, whether I could help those people a bit.

Time will tell, but together with my wonderful wife, an MBA worthy marketer (who’s proficient in coding too), we’re planning something exciting for the community 😉

And yes – I still go out occasionally, to take photos on those rare free moments 😉

Last but not least

At evenings, when not shooting or overworking, I’m dad to my four fantastic kids and husband to my supporting wife. There’s no doubt they are the secret ingredient on what keeps me going strong and motivated