An ode to Austrian startups and the next chapter

It’s been almost a month since moving to London. Three years after (not so) secretly dreaming about the possibilities in this city, I took on the challenge to start an MSc focused on technology entrepreneurship, customer development in early stage ventures and strategic management of growing, scalable projects/companies. Basically, these next 11 months will help me understand better what I’ve been trying to push when consulting clients – and they will provide the backbone for the years to come.

Getting here was the result of a great interest towards startups and the way they function – from founding to exit. I can still remember a chat with a former employer of mine mentioning they’re NOT a startup because they do not want to scale, which made me raise questions about what that actually meant. Looking around at that time (2012-2013), the only guys I knew in the Austrian space who wanted to change the world were Whatchado, who are great with their approach towards team building, diversity and talent retention. Also, the company called Finderly for second hand electronics swaps had pivoted into the mobile marketplace Shpock and I was about to witness first hand what it meant to be an early adopter the startup wanted to work closely with (still gushing about it to this day). They turned out to have one of the most successful exits I’ve heard about in the last years. Many people with different backgrounds in Vienna wanted to make more, have their voices heard and share their stories with the world.

AustrianStartups came together and gave a regular place, date and time for people to get in touch. Suddenly, there was a way in which co-working spaces opened up, allowing newbies to get to startups. There was honest feedback on how building a venture works. You would hear for example of David and Bernhard from who were based in Berlin at the time (2014) giving their first project a go and failing at it. And it wasn’t the end of the world. Interestingly enough, they pivoted to amazing customer service providers through mobile messengers and have just organized the very first European ChatBotConf. Simply put: this period showed me that if the people rock, it’s just a matter of time before the product does.

I see the market rapidly maturing and developing with multi-platform collaboration both in B2B and B2C. Austrian Airlines‘s chatbot was just launched as the product of a startup, a digital agency and a corporation in Vienna. Moving on to the other side of the ocean, you see people like Peter and Phil from Swell who are clearly set to conquer the world, one decision at a time. No matter if they’re in L.A. or in Eferding, schnitzel is still in their DNA (you have to check out their Facebook page to see what I’m talking about). They had to relocate to get to their core user base and it will be interesting to notice how this move affects the future of their product.

In the meanwhile, I’ve done the same. Until we have a clear vision of the customer pain we’re trying to tackle, my team in London will keep on iterating ideas and prototyping. Just like the tweet pictured above suggests, it’s more a question of design than the technology around it. That’s why my main focus is to get the right people in the right place at the same time working on something that will make a difference. And the design wouldn’t have been drafted like this without the inspiration Austrian startups have provided over the years. I hope to return soon with new insights to share with the community. And for those not yet familiar with the community: currently there are loads of interesting people in Vienna looking for opportunities to join great startups, a lot of them in the conversational UX/chatbot/AI space. Have a look around and let me know how I can help ;)


Memories from Coco

Didn’t expect to see me around here now, did you? We haven’t met in so long! Meanwhile, you’ve already found your path around the world, settled down, are on your way to building what you think is what you want, while I’m still getting a grip of what is actually happening.

We’ve shared so much over the years and built castles in the sand, wrote comments on walls, posted photos on feeds. We left behind memories and countries and people to take it down to the core. In order to find out who we are, we had to figure out what we are not.

There’s no need for huge chunks of text to prove that writing is more than just words. It’s language, it’s culture, it’s the world filled with amazing beings that we’ve met so far and that we’re still looking forward to meeting. I had set blogging aside for a long while to focus on building up some pieces of this world. I wanted to learn and train and change everything around me.

It took me more than a year to come to terms with this new way of life. On the day I posted the photo you see above, I had travelled for 17 hours to get back from Sibiu to Vienna in time to finish a presentation for my colleagues. After getting out of Coco, I called my mom and told her I missed her already and wished her “Happy Mother’s Day in Austria” – we celebrate it on a different day in Romania. She was so proud of me for getting where I am, for working hard to achieve my dreams, for the things that were about to come. That was the last time we spoke.

When one life ends, another one begins. So no matter what are doing, how you are doing it, who you are doing it with – do it with love.

Where is Andra?

where is andra travel blog

In 2014, I visited 24 destinations: Dublin, London, New York, Zillertal, Geneva, Beijing, Shanghai, Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hammamet, Douz, Tokyo, Kyoto, Seoul, Bucharest, München, London 2, Athens, Prague, Paris, London 3.

There were 33 flight segments in 52 weeks. The total amount of money I spent in all of these trips was under 8000 Euro. That means an average of 333 Euro per trip which included flights, transportation, accommodation, food and quite a bit of shopping – clothes, BAGS, souvenirs. I had saved this money through my previous internships + part time jobs in Vienna when I was 21-22. At that time my family was supporting me financially in Vienna, but that is not the case anymore since starting to work for an American IT company you might have heard about.

The year took a turn in August during my trip through the Sahara desert, when I found out about my mom’s health problem. Then, I started to travel even more to show her the beauty of this world, even if she only sees it on Facebook.

I don’t know if we will ever grow to be 100 years old and frankly, I don’t even care. If every year from now on will be as beautiful as this one was, I will forever be grateful for the people I meet and the time I spend on this Earth. Thank you for sticking around and reading my words, even if they were sometimes scarce and painful. And if you haven’t stuck around to see everything I had to give, thank you for at least being part of a very special moment.

Follow me through a year filled with happiness and great articles on a new travel blog where I will tell you my travel secrets and help you realize your dreams.

If you find me, of course ;)

#wienblogger zu Meinungsfreiheit im 21. Jahrhundert

wienblogger meetup alinea partnersLiebe Wienblogger, wir hoffen ihr habt den Jahreswechsel gut überstanden und arbeitet genauso ergiebig an euren Neujahrsvorsätzen wie wir ;) . Wir möchten das neue Jahr als Grund für einige Veränderungen bei Wienblogger nutzen. Wir werden unser Format verbessern und mehr auf die Community (also euch) eingehen. Dies inkludiert auch eine Erweiterung des Teams, wir sind dankbar und offen für Vorschläge oder Hilfestellung durch euch. Wer noch mehr für Wienblogger tun möchte, kann sich gerne bei uns bewerben. Wir suchen weiterhin Unterstützung!

Das neue Format sieht unter anderem vor unsere Events unter Themenschwerpunkte zu setzen. Den Anfang macht das erste Event 2015 am 26.02.2015 um 18:00 Uhr bei unserem Sponsor und Partner (Location & Food) für dieses Event, Alinea Partners Consulting (Prinz Eugen-Straße 70/1/6-7, 1040 Wien).

Das Thema dieses Events ist “Meinungsfreiheit im 21 Jahrhundert“ mit Lead Speaker-in Annette Scheiner (Ex-Journalistin des ORF-Auslandsmagazin Weltjournal), wir hoffen auf angeregte Diskussionen. Wir suchen in diesem Zusammenhang auch 2-3 Blogger, die darüber mit allen in einem 20-30 minütigen Talk diskutieren. Es geht hier vor allen um die Themen: wie entstand mein Blog, warum bloggt jemand überhaupt, wie greifen Blogger in die Gesellschaft ein und welche Auswirkungen haben diese. Falls du Interesse hast, Speaker bei diesem Event zu werden, schreibe mir eine Mail oder eine Nachricht auf Facebook. Wir benötigen außerdem deine Blog Adresse + deinen ersten Blogpost, sowie die Bestätigung, dass du als Speaker teilnimmst. Du kannst dich als Speaker bis zum 23. Februar (17 Uhr) bewerben.

Um am Event teilzunehmen, hinterlasse unter dem Blogpost einen Kommentar mit dem Satz “Ich bin dabei!” inklusive deinem Bloglink + deiner E-Mail-Adresse. Die Anmeldungen könnenbis zum 23. Februar um 17 Uhr erfolgen. Weitere Details findest du auf unsere Facebook Event Seite.

Wir freuen uns auf ein baldiges Wiedersehen! Bis dann, like Wienblogger auf Facebook und folge dem Hashtag #wienblogger auf Twitter.

Image credits

Is there a new way to sell?

is there a new way to sell

The past few months have changed everything I thought I was and what I thought I could become professionally. Ever since starting to work in the same room as a team of highly skilled sales people, I’ve realized that there are a lot of similarities between selling and being sleek&social. I looked at the problems I used to have with how people interact with/fall in love with a brand and/or a set of products from a different perspective. There is something that drives every bone in my body to make the things I find very useful in my own life become desirable for others who are willing to pay for them. Yet, this question prevails: what does it take to be the one who convinces?

“Sell me this pen!” was the first sentence that lead me to a very tough conclusion I had to face at that time: basically, all of Social Media is filled with messages about how great this and that product is, but a consumer, no matter whether we are talking about me, you, him or her, isn’t interested in all that. The thing is, what drives us to seek out a great product is our problem, or at least the one we think we have or the one we think others might think we have. This goes for B2C as well as for B2B, because it is, in my opinion, a problem among People2People. People are the ones who drive us up or push us down and we do as they say. This makes me wonder whether influencers (or the people we think are influencers) could be a solution to drive sales.

To put it into perspective: a couple of months ago, I heard about the quantified self movement and all the diverse fitness tracking devices that exist in this world…and thought is was a big hot piece of nonsense. Then, weeks after, I heard about a very serious illness in my family and thought that bad eating habits and non-existing fitness activities might have been a cause for that. Suddenly, the idea of something being able to track your lifestyle didn’t seem so bad after all. A friend from work told me that maybe I would find an incentive to lose weight by recording my fitness activities and trying to get the most out of them. And then, after having started to eat a lot healthier than I used to, I came across an app called My Fitness Pal, where you could record everything you ate and calculate how much weight you would be able to lose. Two months of using this app was the trigger for me: I am now eagerly waiting to buy myself a new UP3 as soon as it is on the market.

There was a long journey until my purchase intention arose and I don’t know whether you could take this journey, copy it, replace “fitness tracker” with “cloud” and see if you can sell like that. I do know that I am willing to try this out, even if it is not something that has been done in my field before. That’s why I think that Social Media can take people from unawareness and lead them to a point where they need a friend (in which case, a reference comes along) to tell them what works and that they should use it. This is what I personally think turns somebody from a good into a great Salesmensch.

Some points still need to be tested out: How do you attract attention faster? How do you standardize the process? How can you get the best for a client if you still don’t know what exactly it is he needs? People have told me that if you’re a great seller, you need to go to a client knowing all the problems he secretly has and just prompt with personalized solutions. But do you like that friend who always tells you that you have gained weight and you should try out the new protein shakes he recommends? Or would you rather talk to your trusted friend who listens to your problems and then tells you he might know somebody who can help?

This article has also been published on LinkedIn. Because, why not?

#wienblogger autumn night

#wienblogger corporateLiebe Wienblogger, endlich ist es wieder soweit! Nach längerer Suche nach einer passenden Location für unser nächstes Treffen habe ich habe ich eine gefunden. Wie schon auf Twitter angekündigt, besticht die Location mit einem wunderschönen Weitblick über die Wiener Innenstadt.

Diesmal ist IBM so freundlich uns eine Location zur Verfügung zu stellen: alle Blogger und Bloggerinnen sind herzlich eingeladen, am 20.11.2014 um 18.30 Uhr im IBM Client Center Wien (Obere Donaustraße 95, 13. Stock, Saal 1) zu kommen, sich kennenzulernen, zu plaudern und den Abend ausklingen zu lassen. ;)

UPDATE: Mjam stellt uns drei Gutscheine im Wert von je 120 Euro zur Verfügung, mit denen wir Essen und Getränke aus dem 2. Bezirk bestellen können! Wir werden das Essen um 19 Uhr bestellen, daher bitte pünktlich sein oder Wünsche per Twitter eingeben. Jetzt läuft übrigens gerade die Mjam-Wochen auf Instagram Challenge, bei der man dann natürlich mitmachen kann ;) Bitte bringt trotzdem eure eigene (alkoholische) Getränke mit, damit sich das Geld wenn möglich für alle ausgeht. Es gibt dann vor Ort Plastikbecher, -teller und Wasser zur Verfügung.

Um teilzunehmen, schreibe einen Kommentar mit “Ich bin dabei!” inklusive deinem Bloglink + deiner E-Mail Adresse auf diesem Blog. Die Anmeldungen können bis zum 19. November um 17 Uhr erfolgen. Weitere Details findest du auf unsere Facebook Event Seite.

Ich freue mich, euch bald wieder zu sehen! Bis dann, like Wienblogger auf Facebook und folge den Hashtag #wienblogger auf Twitter.

Quiet night thought

I’m listening to Luciano Pavarotti singing Caruso on a Japanese futon in a tatami room located on the outskirts of Kyoto. After a night spent attending my very first traditional tea ceremony in the house next door and discussing with a Taiwanese-Chinese couple about the differences and mostly the similarities of our cultures, I finally, finally, came to the point where I can write again.

It’s been over a month since I last took the laptop, put it on my lap and started writing my thoughts away. Tomorrow will be the day I visit my 29th country and I didn’t even get to think, let alone write about the last 3 I’ve seen these last months. All the efforts I put into writing my lastly published article (over 2 months ago) were in vain because of a news that hit me in Tunisia in August. A news that doesn’t affect me personally, but it deeply affects the life of a person who I wished could be nearer than she ever was and ever will be.

Trust me, I really didn’t expect anything that has happened to me in the last couple of months. I didn’t expect seeing myself in this amazing country riding their amazing trains and meeting their amazing people just as I didn’t expect not being able to write for so long due to an occurrence that really shouldn’t have happened. Not to me nor to anybody else in the world. It has torn me apart. I’m trying to put myself together writing this. I’m trying to rebuild the person I know I am and the woman I know I can be.

Today, I heard this wonderful Chinese poem. It goes like this:

靜夜思   A Quiet Night Thought
床前明月光   In front of my bed, there is bright moonlight.
疑是地上霜   It appears to be frost on the ground.
舉頭望明月   I lift my head and gaze at the August Moon,
低頭思故鄉   I lower my head and think of my hometown.
It’s known and learned by Chinese and Japanese alike. I didn’t have a clue it could reach so deep into my soul and raise me up from the unspoken, unwritten state I’ve been in these last weeks. And yet, here I am, standing on this pretentious mat and thinking about the meaning of everything. I’m on the other end of the world and my thoughts couldn’t even get closer to this person than they have ever been before.

“We’re all so different until we talk to each other and get to see that we’re actually more similar than we had thought” – that’s something I just told a Taiwanese TCM PhD student who’s living under the same roof as me. And I meant it. But to be honest, if you were to put me and the other, slightly older version of me in the same tatami room and let us talk for ages…you’d still get the same result.
She’s there. I’m here. I’m everywhere. I’m conquering the world while she is lying in a bed and asking herself about the meaning of everything. She’s me. I’m her. Yet we are two different versions of each other and we strive to live our lives, our short, intense lives, the best we can. We use the means we have and we love the people that love us back. We are one in the mirror and we are all in reality. And if she’ll ever understand me the way I understand myself, she’ll love me even more than she already says she does. Because if you think about it deeply, I’m the only way she’s sticking around for a longer, more intense existence.

What my almost 74-year old grandma has taught me this week

Here are some thoughts of what past generations used to do that we can avoid. Firstly, because we know better and are better informed. Secondly, because learning from others’ mistakes is the least painful way of learning for life. I hope my grandma will provide a valuable lesson for us all.

Those were the days: back when I used to live in Sibiu, Romania, my grandmother was the person I was sharing my house, my food and my life with. She has been around all the time ever since my parents divorced when I was six and I moved in with my dad, her and my grandfather. During the 13 years we spent in the same home, she managed to get me to watch Telenovelas (and learn Spanish along the way), she cooked and cleaned for me, she basically took care of most of the things my dad didn’t know how to handle.

She’s been and still is a very important person in my upbringing and life, considering the fact that we not only share genetic information, but also a lot of character traits. And fortunately, watching her make some mistakes with the people around her will eventually lead me into not making the same errors with the ones in my life.

You see, my grandma really likes attention. It’s partly normal because of her age, but she has that kind of thrill for attention that you can only find in particular people. Knowing that she had this ever since I was born, I now understand why over time, she constantly spoke badly of the people who were in her life but have left her, probably because she was trying to establish her image as the person who deserved all the attention and didn’t manage to get it. – Yes, that’s just like me at times. Guilty as charged. I like the right kind of attention received from intelligent people who leave their daily routines in order to listen to me and to what I have to say. The only problem is, this thing might backlash when I least expect it. For her, it meant not getting attention when she spoke of her illness to her children and relatives, simply because she was always kind of hypochondriac over the years. Now, as she seeks to find diagnostics from specialists in big cities, she faces the reverse of not paying attention to others while being focused on getting some for herself. Nobody listens anymore. Everybody has something better to do than hear you whine.

Then, there’s probably something I learned from her this week more important than anything she tried to teach me over the years: mens sana in corpore sano. Having a healthy mind inside a healthy body is something that definitely deserves my attention more than other small projects that block my time and my well being simply because they seem easier to do than change the core of what I’m already used to doing. She had to face it the hard way: 37 years of the same job with little to no physical exercise followed by a life of popping pills like there’s no tomorrow. She says she wants to visit Vienna, then she comes to Vienna and doesn’t want to leave the house. This is not what I imagine my future to be. Which is why I HAVE to get moving and sporting NOW.

I really hope you and I will all live to be her age and her agility. But in terms of health of mentality, I think we should overcome all the obstacles that previous generations have had in their way.

What do I need to do to become a better blogger?

what do I need to do to become a better bloggerAfter reading so many articles on how to earn your living as a travel blogger, I’ve tried to put things into a new perspective. Because frankly, for the moment, I don’t even know if I want to earn my living as a travel blogger, but I definitely know I want you to have the best experience when reading my blog. This is why I ask you, if you’re reading this right now, to leave me a short comment and tell me which of the things mentioned below you’d like to see more/less of.


1. Write more frequently and more diversified. I know that I probably blew you off several times telling you I’ll be writing about my travels (as they happen) more, but I just couldn’t find the discipline to take an hour off my regular schedule every day to write and post pictures while traveling. What I can promise you, is that I will start to write about previous travel experiences (as I remember them) starting mid July. Would you like to hear my personal travel stories or rather how I booked the trips, what websites I used, what hotels/airbnbs I stayed at, top 5-10 hot spots to check out etc.?


2. Focus on just one language and divide German from English or Romanian posts from the past through my blog design. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time now but haven’t managed to, because I have no idea how to implement it into the blog theme I currently use. Of course, the language that will be used is English, because if you’re reading this, you’re probably from a different part of the world than me (or are you? where are you from? tell me!).


3. Write an updated version of my About page and find out a way to make my Impressum page visible. I actually have an Impressum page written on WordPress under Pages, just haven’t found a way to have it visible and next to About due to the current blog design. I think having an About focused on what I love to do most (somehow a portfolio of my writing ventures) could actually help me find sponsors both for Wienblogger and for xPRiment.


4. Post better pictures. Ok, this is a big problem of mine. Although I own a Nikon D40 DSLR cam AND have made professional photography courses when I was 17, I haven’t used that camera in over a year (I use a Samsung Galaxy Camera with an amazing zoom function and my iPhone 5s instead). I’m never sure why the photos I post are blurry and…well, not that pretty compared to the ones you see on some gorgeous Austrian fashion blogs. And I always blame it on me – maybe there’s no talent at all or maybe there’s a need for better gear?


5. Last but definitely not least, embed some Social Media Plugins to push my Facebook Page (click! like! share! comment!) forward and start using Google Analytics again. If I would have focused more on getting this part covered a couple of years ago, maybe the amount of questions written above would have been smaller. Maybe it would have been easier to get sponsors for Wienblogger, maybe my life would have been different. But honestly, it’s never too late to start doing things right.


To go back to the travel bloggers I’ve been telling you about in the first sentence, here are some great resources you should check out:

How Sabina from Just One Way Ticket can afford to travel

Travel Bloggers share their secrets on The Wandering Orange

How to earn money when traveling via Pink Compass (German article)

How Mirela from coral and mauve plans her blog posts (German article)

#wienblogger in den Sommer Gewinnspiel Verlosung

Gewinner Wienblogger in den SommerHerzlichen Dank an alle, die beim Gewinnspiel teilgenommen haben und mir dabei so ein tolles Feedback für die nächsten Wienblogger Events geschickt haben! Ich habe in den letzten Tagen alle eure Mails gelesen und werde nächste Woche nach der letzten Prüfung meines Studiums (hurra!) dazukommen, ein MailChimp Konto zu erstellen. Bezüglich Mailing Liste könnt ihr sehr gerne auch eure Bloggerfreunde fragen, ob sie einmal im Monat eine Mail von Wienblogger mit Ankündigungen zu Events und Bloggeraktivitäten erhalten möchten. Meine Adresse kennt ihr schon, leitet die Leute einfach weiter :) .

Die Wienblogger treffen sich im Herbst wieder. Macht euch für einen Donnerstag Mitte September nichts vor, ich versuche bis dann einen tollen Sponsor für unser Event zu finden und schlage euch per Mailing Liste mehrere Varianten vor, wie wir uns treffen können. Drückt mir in diesem Sinn die Daumen oder schreibt mir eure Vorschläge per Mail, in einem Kommentar oder auf Facebook/Twitter auf.

So, und jetzt zum schönsten Teil dieses Artikels:

Teilnehmerliste Wienblogger in den Sommer

Es werden die Preise in folgender Reihenfolge ausgewählt:

Der zweite Preis in Wert von 35 Euro (Gutschein ins Lokal Pergola) wurde von…

Gewinner zweiter Preis Wienblogger

Adnan gewonnen!

Und wer darf jetzt mit fünf Freunden im Hotel Zeitgeist feiern? Der erste Preis geht an…

Erster Preis Wienblogger in den Sommer


Die Gewinner werden in den nächsten Tagen von Marco per Mail kontaktiert und erhalten alle Infos zur Übergabe. Herzlichen Glückwunsch und viel Spaß mit den Preisen!

1 2 3 28  Scroll to top