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 ;)


Cultural swing

Losing touch with the Romanian “media culture” was not something I had considered when arriving to Vienna. The thing that surprises me the most is that it occurred so silently, nobody could even sense it happened. Having no access to the object that kept me on track with everything during my 19 year long stay in the Carpathian Garden – the TV and its wonders – eventually led to a loss of interest towards themes so fervently discussed back in Sibiu. Why?

It’s been more than two years since I last sat on my favourite chair in my grandmother’s home, reading a piece of beautiful Romanian postmodern creation that was absolutely unrelated to the exams I had to take in order to obtain my high school degree. I vaguely remember the coffee conversations we enjoyed in Sibiu, yet always remember the places, the people and the books (and the places where you could get the books and meet lots of cool people – Humanitas). Of course, everything that happened in the media was a part of our lives and of our discussion topics, the music we heard on TV was played at our parties and the people who were famous for a reason and promoted in the media were our models in life.

Compared to the Austrian press, Romanian print is extremely poor in information and suffers from a severe case of tabloidization, yet it’s still being read and somewhat followed (in terms of fashion and lifestyle of celebrities, habits of going to very expensive clubs and wearing very expensive clothes and so on) by a big load of people. Media apparently influences Austrian minds and Romanian pockets.

Although it was hard getting to transit from the typical Romanian way of perceiving media, Vienna (and even more: the University of Vienna) has introduced me to some of the most fascinating themes I’ve faced so far. Coming close to the age of uninnocence, subjects that earlier could not be debated without a serious amount of controversy and very many stereotypes in mind seem more and more promising. The pages are unfolding in a more Standard (Austrian quality newspaper) kind of life than in the typical Tribuna (local Sibiu newspaper) times. It’s true, I haven’t read a good postmodern fiction work in a long while and my favourite chair can never be replaced. Yet nobody seeks to copy Lugner around here and it makes much more sense to take some distance from things portrayed in the media – both on TV and in print – then to let your life be exclusively influenced by it.

Tip for estranged Romanians suffering from cultural swing: always listen closely to the songs on the radio that are trendy in Romania when arriving in the country, then repeat some lyrics in front of your friends. Somehow this still gets the conversations started just like in the old days.

Fesch’markt Live Blogging Versuch


Heute geht’s endlich ab nach Fesch’markt! Ich kannte dieses Konzept schon seit 2011, hatte aber noch nie die Möglichkeit dabei zu sein. Daher wurden heuer rechtzeitig Freundinnen angerufen und Uhrzeiten bestimmt – ab 11.30 Uhr wird fesch geshoppt!

Was ich auch – hoffentlich erfolgreich – versuchen werde ist vom Event aus live die Meinungen zu den unterschiedlichen Designern u.a. weiterzugeben. Per Blog. Mit Hilfe meines kleinen Sidekicks Samsung Galaxy SIII (denn ein Laptop würde in so einer Situation nicht gut passen).

Also, Daumen drücken und Spaß damit haben! Übrigens schreibe ich diesen Post auch vom Handy aus und es fällt mir leichter als gedacht. Bis später!

Update Foto:

Corinna und Ines von Schrankleben

Live Blogging von einem Markt ist schwierig, muss ich gestehen :) .

Later Update: Es ist fast unmöglich, hier anzukommen und sich die Sachen nur anzuschauen. Ich habe mir 2 Schnäppchen und ein paar Visitenkarten geholt, ab Montag wird in diesem Sinn näher nachgeschaut. Freebies gibt’s wenig bis gar nicht, die coole Schmuckstücke kosten über 20 Euro (wenn man keine Zeit fürs Nachschauen hat). Der Ring im ersten Bild (er liegt unten rechts) ist von Le Moulin Rose, war super OK vom Preis her und deutet auf meine baldige Reise nach Paris. Oui oui!

Wie fandest du diesen Blogpost? Bitte schreibe deine Meinung in einem Kommentar auf.

Austrian Bloggers Meet Up: Follow up und Location

Hallo wieder :)

Nachdem wir schon auf Twitter (Hashtags #blogmeet #wien und von nun an auch #wienblogger) und auf diesem Blogpost die wesentlichen Details besprochen haben, kamen wir zu folgendem Ergebnis:

Alle österreichischen Blogger sind am 23. August um 18 Uhr im Restaurant Viereck (Johannesgasse 16, Wien – wir werden uns auf iPads das Essen und die Getränke bestellen können!) herzlich eingeladen, sich kennenzulernen und sich über Social Media + Marketing + PR und andere Themen zu äußern.

Ich bitte dich, mir in einem Kommentar darunter (auch mit Link zu deinem Blog) deine Zusage zu geben, damit ich den Leuten vom Restaurant sagen kann, wieviele Leute wir sein werden.

Wir sehen uns dort, ich bin auf dich gespannt!

Inspiring you to start new roads: travel blogs

There are million different feelings we experience when visiting a new place. Thoughts come up about what we should see or what we should skip and as we reach for our guide book, we discover that it can’t always help us make a decision. That is because they are usually built the same way, focusing on the more popular sights of a city and using an impersonal tone. Here’s where travel blogs come in handy.

So what are the differences between a guide book and a travel blog? Find out more on this week’s TEDxVienna article :)


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