The Complete Vienna Startup City Guide

Published on:

Are you considering to launch your startup in Europe? Vienna might be the perfect place for you! Check out our Vienna Startup Guide for useful tips on how to get your business started in the alpine country:

Infographic: How To Start Your Startup In Vienna

For many years in a row now, Vienna has been named the world’s top city for quality of life and, more recently, the “up-and-coming early-stage investment capital of Europe“. The city’s level of livability skyrockets, the educational system booms resulting in a highly educated population and its public transportation system makes you want to sell your car and use the money for a better cause – founding a startup for example!

To make the road to success easier for you, we’ve created a practical guide considering major stops, bumps and places to move your startup forward.

Startup Hotspot In Europe’s Heart: Vienna

Why Choose Vienna As A City To Found:

  • Vienna is located in the heart of Europe, bridging the gap between Western and Eastern Europe.
  • There are ca. 190.000 students in Vienna (2015). This creates a big pool of potential co-founders and early employees. Moreover, it can be a good target group for your business.
  • The population of Vienna has a high purchasing power that makes it an attractive market for various kinds of products and it is a good entry to the DACH market. DACH, in other words, means the three german speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) which are the largest market with a single language in Europe.
  • International startups are very welcome in Vienna and are supported with the Vienna Startup Package to develop their business idea.
  • Although Vienna’s not (yet) a European startup hotspot, it has been voted among the top ten destinations for European founders. Furthermore, through various actions, the Austrian government has taken steps to promote Austria’s standing as a country to found in, showing dedication to supporting its entrepreneurial community.

What You Should Keep In Mind:

  • Although Austria is a beautiful and rich country it holds a population of around 8,7 million people (2016). So unless you have a specific product to offer or you are “starting local but thinking big” keep this number in mind.
  • If you are thinking about starting with Ltd. keep in mind the costs that come with it. In order to get the status of a Ltd. (or GmbH) you need to have the minimum nominal capital of 35.000 Euros. If you’re interested in finding out more details, the Austrian Business Agency will guide you further.
  • IT gurus are always hard to find and especially in Vienna. You have to keep in mind that the process of finding an IT person who will build a startup with you is challenging and takes time. As a solution, try using StartUs for your search.
  • The government may support you with a grant or two but at the same time, it welcomes startups with a bit confusing bureaucratic obstacles that make your startup life just a bit more challenging.

What Vienna’s Startup Community Offers

Vienna Startup Hub Guide - community

If the above-mentioned minor obstacles scared you off, maybe you should redirect your navigation back to the corporate highway. If you are still moving toward startups, let’s continue our trip and see how you can become a part of Vienna’s startup community and meet those great people who can become your co-founders, mentors, investors, and friends. To get an overview of Vienna’s startup ecosystem (apart from this guide) we suggest visiting Vienna Business Agency‘s site for more details.

In the recent years, Austria as a whole has seen a rise in the attention for startups and entrepreneurship. To keep updated about all the things happening in the scene we recommend the following media:

  • Der Brutkasten is a Vienna-based media outlet, which is a startup itself. While sharing news about startups and innovation, they also provide guides on starting a startup alongside a printed magazine (four times per year). Articles are written in German.
  • TrendingTopics describes itself as “smart news for smart users”. The online portal mainly features news about Austrian startups and digital economy they are revolving around; again articles are written in German.

The fastest way to connect with people from the startup community is to visit local startup events. Let’s take a look at where you can find information about upcoming events:

  • AustrianStartups have created an event calendar for startups where you can find most of the relevant upcoming startup events in Vienna and Austria.
  • Meetup is also a great source to find Viennese startup events, especially in the IT sector, organized by members of the community.
  • The Facebook pages of Vienna’s most popular coworking spaces like Sektor 5, Stockwerk, and Impact Hub Vienna are useful resources to find out what’s happening.
  • The Austrian Startup Pinwall, as well as Startup Lounge Vienna, are the most active Facebook groups, giving insight into startup-related news and events.

Regular Events:

  • After Work Network is a monthly gathering organized by Junge Wirtschaft every first Tuesday of the month. At their events, they aim to connect young entrepreneurs with representatives of various industries on equal footing.
  • AustrianStartups Stammtisch is an event organized every 3rd Tuesday of the month at Sektor 5. It starts with a panel discussion on a specific, startup-related topic and is followed by networking.
  • FuckUp Nights Vienna is the local chapter of the global FuckUp Nights. Entrepreneurs share the stories of the, well, most fucked up happenings in their startup journey.
  • Startup Grind Vienna hosts monthly events to teach, inspire and connect entrepreneurs.

Major Events & Competitions:

  • Entrepreneurship Avenue is the startup event series designed to encourage young people to start their own business. It consists of two blocks: Entrepreneurship Avenue Labs and Entrepreneurship Avenue Conference. The next Entrepreneurship Lab takes place on March 30th, the Conference Day on May 12th, 2017.
  • i2b Business Plan Competition is initiated by Erste Bank and the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. In order to get invited to pitch your idea in front of a jury you first have to submit your business plan for feedback. The award ceremony usually takes place at the beginning of December.
  • i2c Networking Friday is an annual event, organized by the incubator of the technical university of Vienna, i2c. Every February entrepreneurial minded students and top-notch entrepreneurs meet not only to network but also to get inspired by keynotes, and award the winner of the pitch competition held there.
  • Gründen in Wien is organized by the Vienna Business Agency with the aim to give Vienna’s startups and founders a place to present themselves and encourage others to found their own startups. The day dedicated to Vienna’s startups or “Startup Day” is taking place annually in June.
  • Manageers hosts semi-regular events in Vienna, dedicated to the “decision makers of tomorrow”. Once a year (approx. November) they also invite innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs to join their conference in order to get impulses by well-known CEOs.
  • Pioneers Festival is one of the biggest startup festivals in Europe. Startups can apply for Pioneers500 to get the chance to attend and exhibit at the festival, meeting international investors and fellow entrepreneurs. The next one will be held from June 1st to 2nd, 2017.
  • StartUP Live hosts various events in Vienna and throughout Europe, with the highlight being their Startup Demo Day, taking place on an annual basis.
  • Startup Weekend is a weekend-long, hands-on event to find out if your startup ideas a viable.
  • TEDxVienna is an independently organized TED event, rapidly developing in the Viennese community. A lot of talks and events organized are devoted to topics related to entrepreneurship and are relevant for the startup community.
  • We Are Developers is a community of 2000+ developers and IT decision makers. Once a year the community gathers to get inspired by keynotes from global tech leaders on Web, IoT, Data Science, AI, Gaming, and Robotics among other topics. The upcoming conference will be held from May 11th-12th, 2017.

Where To Find An Office In Vienna

coworking-for-magazine 33

By renting a coworking space you are usually not only joining a shared office but also a community. Major coworking spaces that rent out to startups make sure to host events and create an open atmosphere for those involved in the startup community. It might be a place where you find your business partner, potential investor or also friends.

Coworking Spaces In Vienna:

  • A1 Startup Campus offers more than just office space for its startups. They are also provided with business products by the communications provider A1, as well as contacts to business consultants and active media relations.
  • Cocoquadrat is Vienna’s first coffee-coworking. You can easily check-in through their web app, they charge 2,50 Euros on an hourly basis. And, good news, the first 10 hours are free!
  • CO SPACE is home to startups in three different locations (Kirchengasse, Kandlgasse & Gumpendorferstraße). CO SPACE has opted for “colorful coworking”, meaning they are open to pop-ups, catering as well as cultural projects.
  • Impact Hub Vienna is not only a coworking space but also an event location, business incubator and, most importantly, community. Their Vienna space, located near Westbahnhof, offers 1200 m2 of working space.
  • Io2 Hub offers office space specifically to IoT startups, and also connects them with mentors relevant to their industries.
  • L-Office Vienna offers flexible coworking and event space since 2011. Frequently, Google trainings  are held there, so keep an eye on this space!
  • Sektor5 is a coworking space supporting and connecting entrepreneurs. Their community consists of developers, freelancers, consultants, and accountants among others.
  • Stockwerk offers 65 working places on 4 floors, with regular events being hosted on the ground floor.
  • Talent Garden, Europe’s biggest coworking network, will open a space in Vienna! Though it’s not totally clear yet when, the community is already excited to see this big player making a new home in Vienna.

If you’re interested in more, we have collected a list of Vienna’s major coworking spaces.

Another tip: Analyze your startup well before deciding to rent a desk at a coworking space. If cold calling is an important part of your daily routine you might want to check whether a coworking space has ‘isolated’ rooms where you can enjoy selling your products or services on the phone without disturbing others.

Financing Your Startup In Vienna

Vienna Startup Hub Guide - community

Now, of course, it is convenient if you have enough capital on your own to fund your startup – but let’s be honest: that is rarely the case. Luckily you don’t need to do everything alone these days – you can ask for help way easier and find people who support on your journey. Excuses like “I don’t have enough money to found a startup” or “My financial state is not that well at the moment” do not count. You’ve got an idea? Great, let’s get started!

Incubators:

  • 5starts is the incubator of the coworking space Sektor 5, which was awarded Best Incubator Program in 2016 by CESAwards. They run a 5-months long program, focusing (not exclusively) on software companies.
  • Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) is a six-months long incubator program initiated by Cisco that supports early-stage startups working on transformational opportunities (e.g. IoT, Big Data, cloud computing, Smart City solutions, enterprise security). Accepted startups receive financial support as well as access to the extended network of mentors.
  • GIN – Global Incubator Network is strictly speaking not an incubator but definitely worth a mention. GIN connects entrepreneurs, investors as well as incubators and offers services tailored to fit individual needs. It is managed by the FFG (see Grant & Subventions) and owned by the Federal Government of Austria.
  • i5invest is a seed investor and startup factory, hence your startup could get money even before the first investor is in. Not only do they invest in you from the beginning, i5invest also helps with mentoring, the search for future fundraising and corporate development. As a great add-on: They also specialize in M&A and exit advisory for tech startups.
  • INiTS is a government-funded incubator which provides startups with seed funding as well as its network and office spaces to accelerate their success.
  • Innovation Incubation Center (i2c) is the incubator of the University of Technology Vienna, which supports their students in various ways on the road to founding their startup. i2c fosters innovative thinking; empowers business potential and provides an incredibly extensive network, nationally and internationally.
  • Io2 Hub accepts IoT and smart technology startups that are looking to scale fast and go global.
  • Lemmings, an incubator focused on AI and chatbots, is the newest addition to this list. Initiated by Allan Berger and Thomas Schranz, Lemmings is a training program that lets you zoom in on tangible products, projects or movements gathering some of the best people in software, design, marketing, and sales.

Accelerator Programs:

  • 42Angelitos is an accelerator with a focus on moving super-early-stage-startups to Silicon Valley. When you decide to apply for this program keep in mind that they have a large, professional team which will help you in any way they can but since the overall goal is to get startups to Silicon Valley you should be ready for that.
  • Agro Innovation Lab is the innovation hub of RWA Group and the Raiffeisen Lagerhaus cooperatives.The acceleration program’s aim is to offer broad agro-specific and entrepreneurial know-how of selected trainers and mentors, a brilliant network and very useful resources in the agricultural field.
  • ELEVATE (Acceleration through Execution) was launched initiated by The Ventury in January 2017. ELEVATE is Europe’s first accelerator focusing exclusively on bots; their first batch will start on March 17th.
  • Impact Hub’s acceleration program gives you the opportunity to connect and learn from the best Austrian social experts and entrepreneurs. The program is open to startups or individuals with an early stage idea, a prototype in place or even an already running business.
  • SLAX – the acceleration program of the startup tax consultants Leitner Leitner aims to make young companies “investable”. Their internal team strongly cooperates with 70 external experts, elevating ideas together with their participants.
  • weXelerate was announced in February 2017, and it’s more than just an accelerator. The organization co-founded by corporate and startup partners aims to unite CEE’s startup ecosystem in one place, on 8000sqm to be exact. 100 startups per year will be going through their program that’s focusing on IoT, FinTech & Media.

Angel Investors:

  • AAIA – Austrian Angel Investors Association actively connects angel investors in Austria and promotes the overall idea of investing in startups. The members of the association are private investors, business angels, seed and early-stage funds as well as foundations.
  • aws i2 – Die Börse für Business Angels – is an Austrian business angel network supported by AWS that connects investors with companies.
  • Clever Clover invests in early-stage startups. Their startups benefit from an extensive peer network in the food, travel, leisure, and manufacturing industries. Director & founding partner Heinrich Prokop is currently an investor on the Shark Tank-like TV show “2 Minuten 2 Millionen”.
  • Club Deal AG – is a structured club for successful business angels from the DACH region. Their members benefit from professional investment management services.
  • PrimeCrowd – The Startup Airport is a crowd investing platform for elite investors, which will get to know each pre-selected startup in private before they invest in them. Equity deals start at 10,000 Euros.
  • The Hansmen Group was founded by Hansi Hansmann, who also founded the AAIA (see above). In 2016 he was named Best European Early Stage Investor of 2015.
  • Speed Betiligungs GmbH revolves around Michael Altrichter, one of the best-known and most active business angels in Austria. After selling paysafecard and payolution, he currently has a stake in 25 startups and is also an investor on “2 Minuten 2 Millionen”.
  • Startup300 is a business angel network brought to life by Michae Eisler in 2015. In January of 2017, the network announced their new startup fund, Capital300.

Venture Capital Investors:

  • FSP Ventures is an independent VC fund that focuses on innovative startups in the CleanTech industry. FSP stands for a non-bureaucratic, fast and effective approach.
  • Gamma Capital Partners is a private VC investment and consulting firm, aiming for value creation and realization.
  • SpeedInvest works hands-on with founders and partners. The most recognized VC fund in Austria is specialized in FinTech, Tech, Media-centric & e-commerce segments from CEE countries. Startups which have their product and team ready can get funding up to 500.000€ in a seed round and up to 3Mio. € as a follow-up investment from a 100Mio. € pool.
  • Venionaire Capital is a VC and corporate financial advisor. They have strong ties in the DACH region and additionally offer workshops, communication strategies and business relations in Silicon Valley.

Grants and Subventions:

  • The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) is a national funding institution for applied research and development in Austria which offers various services such as the management of public funding programs to consulting services in all phases of technology development. You can find the overview of public funding programs from FFG here.
  • Austria Wirtschaftsservice (AWS) has quite a few subventions for different segments. Depending on your industry you can find different opportunities to choose from here – these options apply in Austria only. For international alternatives have a look here. In this section, there are two options to choose from whereas in the creative industry AWS has more to offer.
  • netidee funds projects that help the development of the Internet. A pool of independent experts reviews each project individually and chooses suitable ones based on objective criteria.
  • The Vienna Business Agency (Wirtschaftsagentur) supports companies with the help from the City of Vienna. Their subventions aim to aid companies of different sizes and sectors: from science and innovation to creative industries. Detailed information (conditions, eligibility etc.) is available for download directly from the funding programs.
  • Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF) is a private foundation that supports young scientists. The funds can be obtained for different scientific projects and startups in the field of life science, math, ICT, social science etc. In 2015 WWTF calls for proposals in ICT and life science projects.
  • A few more to have a look at Austrian Science Fund, Departure and Kommunalkredit Austria AG.

Crowd Investing Platforms:

  • Conda brings together founders and investors. Before you apply for this service it’s helpful to ask yourself if your business model is economically attractive? Do you have the resources to implement a crowd investing campaign? Do you have a proof of concept? If the answer to all these questions is yes – then it’s a great service to check.
  • Fundraizer is a reward based crowdfunding platform. What’s important to them, is that they support their projects further, even after they funded successfully.
  • Green Rocket is a crowd investing platform with a focus on projects on sustainability, energy efficiency, mobility, and health.
  • 1000*1000 is a platform focusing on innovative and creative projects whereas investors have a possibility to invest a sum between 100 and 10.000 Euros.

Now you should have an idea of where to get funding for your startup in Austria. Make sure also to constantly check out StartUs’ ecosystem to find relevant players who also have some money for you in the tank. Moreover, you can check out a detailed information brochure created in cooperation of WKO (Austrian Chamber of Commerce) and Junge Wirtschaft (Young Economy) about funding opportunities apart from banks and subventions (*in German).

Get More Advice To Found In Vienna

Vienna Startup Hub Guide - mentors

In general, Gründerservice is a very helpful site when it comes to starting a business (information in English). When you’re unsure how exactly to start a business you might want to have a look here to find out more about funding, commercial law, and legal forms and since every startup passes through different stages, here you can find online services and apps which will help you get through them.

If you want to find out more what Austria has to offer for startup founders coming from abroad, check out Vienna Business Agency, providing you with hands-on information and consultancy on how to start and grow your business in Austria (check out their detailed list of services for startups).

A part that is always critical is to turn startups into an actual company. If you know you want to do it you can find details concerning the legal structure of businesses in Austria here. The City of Vienna also has provided a guideline for business registrations. Concerning the registration of a company at the revenue board, you can visit this site for further details.

Now, are you ready to kick off your startup in Vienna?

 

_________________

Last updated: February 4th, 2017

The guides are like startup communities – they constantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

Sharing is caring!