For a long time, thinking about self-employment and entrepreneurship wasn’t a priority in Austria with high entry barriers (investments). Luckily, times have changed. Digitization has dramatically lowered these barriers. Today, anyone can come up with a good idea at the kitchen table and use it on their laptop, and soon after, business life begins. High investments in machinery and factories are no longer necessarily needed.
Only a few years ago, almost all initiatives within the Austrian startup ecosystem were run by the state. We experienced a market failure. The veterans of the venture capital scene Gert Reinhard Jonke (Venture Capital Funds), Michael Tojner (then venture investor behind BWIN), PONTIS Ventures and later Gamma Capital Partners had either already developed further, could no longer put together new funds, or have simply missed the advent of a new founder era. Startups in Austria were not completely at the beginning, but they needed new pioneers.
With Start Europe and later Pioneers Festival, the potential of the Austrian startup ecosystem and the need to catch up internationally became very clear. The most well-known early drivers of today’s startup ecosystem Speedinvest, i5Invest, Hansi Hansmann, Stefanie Pingitzer, Selma Prodanovic and our company (Venionaire was established in 2012) had initially a hard time to attract the attention from media, politics, and society. Even in 2015, it was too early to convince institutional investors on a larger scale, with many still licking their wounds from the dotcom bubble. Today, there are again efforts to address these investors, whether it will succeed to convince them this time is still uncertain.
In addition, Austria hadn’t enough successful startup founders, who could support the ecosystem as mentors and investors after their exit. All of this has changed dramatically in recent years and the ecosystem has developed greatly – the number of investors has multiplied, established companies are regularly working actively with startups, and some government initiatives have done an excellent job creating a market that adapted the dynamics of the private sector. Above all, the commitment of institutional investors should be promoted so that Austria’s investment power will be further expanded. Especially in the field of high technology is still hidden potential that could be exploited through investments and technology transfer centers. The current strength of the scene can still be expanded!
In the next segment of this article, we present you an overview of the startup ecosystem in Austria from an investors perspective. This list was inspired by Bernhard Hauser’s blog and is build on his content. If an important player is missing, we are very happy if you shoot us a quick email.
Mergers of Business Angels are not a new invention. They offer Angels several benefits, such as sharing experience, co-investing, or better dealflow. Networks, which (also) operate in Austria in alphabetical order: