Startup300 Launches To Underpin Exploding Austrian Startup Scene

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Startup300 program set to place promising startups under the wing of noted Business Angels to receive specialized advice and investment. Next candidates for the scheme to be revealed imminently.

A new Angel Network named Startup300 was launched Monday, December 14 2015 in Vienna, Austria by Wappwolf entrepreneur Michael Eisler and i5invest spokesman Bernard Lehner. The network already counts 80+ members among its ranks.

A Network Of Angels, Undefined

What the network actually is, however, remains undefined – for the time being, in part because the network’s launch was precipitated by a spontaneous meeting of the majority of network’s members on their way to the notary. Is it, then, a Business Angel network, an incubator, an accelerator, or all of the above?

“We identified an empty space. There is capital, there is structural support, there are co-working spaces. What there isn’t is a definitive calling address for startups in a relatively early-stage phase to make a structured connection with the resources offered by experienced Business Angels and entrepreneurs. In order to offer this, we have assembled the Who-is-Who of the current Business-Angel scene in Austria,” says Lehner.

His partner, US-based Wappwolf founder Eisler, found that the combination of Austrian Startups’ needs and his own unique position as a successful entrepreneur with credibility in Silicon Valley provided him with the position to launch the official program of Startup300, where such networks are still relatively scarce in the Austrian ecosystem.

Startup300 will be the largest association initiated by Business Angels and entrepreneurs for Austrian startups”, Eisler declared a few weeks ago. “Currently, we’re managing five startups, four of which are already raising considerable funding. Every year, we will take up to 10 startups under our wing for no longer than 300 days [so considerably longer than the average accelerator – ed.]. Lehner and I will manage these on a daily basis and our network will advise members in specialized areas with unique workshops,” says Eisler.

The Austrian Volcano

A Business Angel is essentially an investor who takes a chance on a promising new startup but who also donates financial, social and human capital, e.g. networks (like Austrian Angels Investors Association (AAIA) or aws i2 Business Angels in Austria) , advice and expertise, according to Hansi Hansmann, the Business Angel and President of the AAIA, who is also credited with founding his own successful pharmaceutical company and investing in close to 30 unique and successful startups.

Hansmann is credited with being something of a Godfather to the Austrian startup scene, bringing something of a Midas touch to most of the startups he gets involved with. The Austrian startup scene kicked off in 2004, though initially in short fits and starts. Things took off when the incubus of 3 United Mobile Solutions AG, including the pioneering Text-Message Specialist XIDRIS from Markus Wagner and SYSIS, the gaming platform from Oliver Holle, was sold to US-based Verisign in 2006 for €55 million. Wagner went on to found i5invest and Holle SpeedInvest (topic of a recent news story here). From there the scene began to erupt, with i5invest’s Stefan Kalteis’ and Michael Altrichter’s Payment Service Provider Payolution snapped up for millions by UK’s Skrill in 2007 after only four months of operation.

On The Shoulders Of Giants

While the startup scene is rapidly growing in Austria, investors and facilitators have lagged somewhat in accommodating the rapidly growing number of startups hoping to emulate the feats of the scene legends above. It was therefore noteworthy that both Altrichter and Hansmann are among the Angels to take part in Startup300. 80 members were present at the launch Monday of Startup300 in the “Cocoquadrat” co-working space, of which 68 are reportedly already shareholders.

The startups already under the Startup300’s wing are: dvel, Greetzly, Recordbird, Vresh and Pwnwin. Eisler will reveal the next batch of startups to be approached come January 2016.



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