The Austrian view of the booming future for startups in Central and Eastern Europe

AustrianStartups is a neutral, independent and non-profit platform for innovative entrepreneurship in Austria

Please tell us about AustrianStartups – what does the organization do, what is its main purpose and how does the organization support startups?

AustrianStartups is Austria’s leading platform for entrepreneurship. We believe that entrepreneurial thinking and acting are key for positive change. That’s why our team is working towards a future where entrepreneurship will be as common as skiing in Austria. Empowered by more than 30.000 supporters, we aim to inspire people to act entrepreneurial, connect them with other innovative minds & change Austria’s environment with data-driven recommendations for improvement. We organize more than 60 events per year, run Austria’s largest startup newsletter & publish a big yearly report about recent developments in the startup scene – the Austrian Startup Monitor.

How did AustrianStartups respond to this new situation regarding Covid-19? What innovative ideas did the startup community come up with to ‘help out’ during this crisis?

Spring 2020 was tough because the general insecurity led to decline of investments and revenues. But quite soon, the startup community did what it does best: adapt to the circumstances and develop solutions. In the end more than 25% percent of startups in Austria ended up creating solutions to counter problems connected to the crisis – ranging from Corona Testing & Tracing to home-schooling & remote-working tools to crisis financing & virtual health support.

What is the environment currently like for non-Austrian startups / fintechs that want to enter the Austrian market, namely startups from the CEE region?

Currently the Austrian startup scene is booming. We had a wave of big investment rounds at Startups like Bitpanda & GoStudent during the last few months and we see more international talent moving here as a result. Austria generally offers some unique advantages like great quality of life, moderate costs of living and a strong public funding environment. At the same time there is still room for improvement when it comes to bureaucracy on all levels.

How do you view the CEE region when it comes to startups? How does it compare to Austria? What are similarities and differences? Is it a pleasant / stimulating environment for startups?

My impression is that it is fast moving – and that is always good for startups. At the same time I also consider CEE to be a strong hub for technical talent – you can see that in the quality of the products coming from the region.

What are some successful startups from the CEE region that you know, which have entered the Austrian market? What do you think contributed to their success?

At AustrianStartups we are for example working with a Slovakian Startup called Slido to manage audience questions during our events. They managed to build up good relationships with Austrian event organizers by collaborating with Austria’s leading startup conference. It certainly helps to leverage the local ecosystem here.

What advice would you give to startups / fintechs from the CEE region that want to enter the Austrian market?

As always it depends on the type of product you offer and the type of industry you are in – for some industries it is essential to build up local relationships and have an office in the country. Fintech is probably one of these industries – trust plays a big role and trust is easier to build if you are present physically in Austria. I would also recommend building up your network in the local startup scene – most founders are helpful by nature, and they might be able to open some doors for you here. Our monthly community meetup called Stammtisch is a great opportunity to build some connections here.