Austrian Address Book Startup swync Helps Meet EU Data Protection Demands

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In the 21st century keeping contacts up to date is still challenging. swync's CEO Benedikt Aichinger spoke to us about the app that helps to be little more organized - effortless.

How would you describe swync in a few words?

swync is a clever address book for everyone and helps companies to meet the EU Data Protection demands.

What inspired you to create the address book? How did it all start?

I worked for a company in the healthcare IT world and helped to design the Austrian Electronic Health Record System (EHR). Privacy was one of the hardest topics to solve and this sparked the idea to create something new and simple to use. Most of the privacy discussions revolved around the question of “Opt-In” or “Opt-Out”. I wanted to develop a simple tool to let everyone choose to whom I want to give my contact data and this was the start of swync.

Sharing contact information is still a highly sensitive topic for some people. How do you tackle this challenge?

To gain credibility is a tough part for a startup like swync. That’s why we have taken on board one of the most accredited lawyers in this field – Michael Pachinger, RA. He has not only written many books about privacy but furthermore is a practical expert in implementing these laws into organizations.

Currently, you’re testing the group and contact manager as a pilot. How’s the feedback been so far, what can you tell us?

We listen very closely to any feedback we get. swync’s group feature is very useful for teams that don’t have a formal cause for sharing their contact data – like sport or music teams. I often get the feedback, that communication is multi-channel: some can only be contacted via email, some are on WhatsApp etc. With swync, you can find a way to contact everyone.

Are you using swync internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the team?

swync is not a tool you use on a daily or regular basis. It’s more a tool to keep you organized a bit better without doing anything. At swync, we have a very diverse team and we work together in multiple online and offline teams with always changing team members. With our own swync group it’s easy to stay in touch.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced so far?

I have to separate it into two different classes of challenges:

1. From a technical viewpoint, we have a very sophisticated business logic in our backend that was really tough to test in combination with the app.
2. Organizational wise the biggest challenge was getting things started in the first place. All founders had their full-time jobs and we are not the 24-year-old students with no strings attached anymore. So I had to do some arrangements to find the time to get the business started.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of swync?

Actually, there is not the one memorable moment, but there are moments on the way that really boosted swync. When I explain our mission to people I get really good feedback, which we, later on, discuss in the team. If we decide to integrate the feedback into the product it’s a very memorable moment for me because it’s not only “your” product anymore but it becomes the project of many people. This process of feedback – discussion – development is very satisfying and memorable.

After Vienna, Linz is growing to be a strong startup hub in Austria. If there is one thing you could wish for in improving the startup ecosystem – what would it be?

To start with the good things in Linz: There are excellent people that are willing to work hard in this city. There is an ecosystem evolving around Tabakfabrik – and with some political will – that can be really great in future.

The biggest problem from my point of view is the traffic situation. I don’t live in Linz and have to commute every day, which can take from 25 to 70 minutes. Opting for a train and bus still, takes me 60 minutes (one way). This can be very frustrating.

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

TEAM! It’s all about the team. Know what you are not good at and find fellow founding partners to start it up. I see so many pitches of founders that have a great idea and want to do everything from development to sales, marketing, and finance.

If you have a great idea it’s a good starting point but the tough journey only begins there and when you have people around you that already know one or two things about the business world it’s never bad. So think about taking experienced team members on board.



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