The Top 10 Startup Teams in Austria
Although it’s relatively new on the startup map, Austria is home to a young and dynamic tech startup scene. It has already produced a number of breakout international success stories, like online travel agency TourRadar which has raised €66.5 million in funding and operates in 200 cities.
One thing for sure is that the Austrian startup ecosystem is industry-diverse, surfacing some unique ideas to the market and creating some of the most interesting and original companies in the world today.
Some Austrian startups are destined to break out of the dach region and onto the global market, but many are not. For those that struggle to make it outside of Austria, there are multiple reasons. It could be a cultural mismatch or a resistance to moving the HQ outside of Austria. It is still difficult to make it in the US with a Europe based HQ.
Governments play a big role in the success of a country’s startup ecosystem, and Austria is no exception to this. While there’s a lot of support for forming a company in Austria, many argue that more could be done to support businesses in the later stages of growth. The Austrian government has focused its efforts on supporting early stage entrepreneurship, launching a comprehensive startup programme in 2016 to attract more young companies to Austria. However, there are currently few options on the table for companies after completing a series A fundraising round, or for those seeking new stages of growth after being on the market for a few years. The obvious next step for many of these companies is global expansion, but as it stands, there is little support for this.
“The Austrian startup ecosystem is growing quickly with several companies raising multi-million-euro rounds. However, there is very little capital, especially for later stages,” said Peter Windischhofer, co-founder and CEO of Austrian startup Refurbed.
Independent non-governmental organizations are working hard to support the Austrian startup scene. Bodies like Austrian Startups, an NPO which promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, and coworking groups focused on networking and collaboration between startups have had a big impact on fostering a supportive entrepreneur community. There are also some impressive VC firms operating in Austria with a lot of success. SpeedInvest is a long time player in the Austrian VC market and has a new €190 million fund.
Despite any existing challenges, Austria has managed to create an environment where some seriously interesting and impressive startups have been born, and have flourished beyond domestic borders.
We wanted to showcase the teams behind some of the most exciting startups in Austria. We've focused less on size and revenue and more on the concept and potential, and most importantly, the strength of teams - because what is a good concept without a great team.
Here is our list of the top 10 startup teams in Austria:
TourRadar is an online travel agency that targets the multi-day touring market. It is headquartered in Vienna with offices in Toronto and Brisbane, and offers more than 25,000 tours in 200 cities. It is one of the most established companies on our list (founded in 2010) and has solid financial backing having closed a €50M Series C fundraising round in 2018, bringing its total funding haul to €66.5M. Of course, it wouldn’t have gotten to this point without an outstanding team. TourRadar is well known for its focus on a positive company culture. It is also one of the few Austrian companies with a truly gender diverse management team, setting a good standard for the startup scene in Austria, and showing that it takes having a diverse and inclusive team to make it to the top.
There will likely be challenges ahead for this online travel agency while world travel is on pause during the coronavirus pandemic, but we think TourRadar has the right team to make it through.
Bitmovin is an online video software and infrastructure company which aims to remove the growing pains of high-quality streaming. They use a technology called adaptive streaming which dynamically adjusts video quality depending on the user’s device and internet connection. With a sophisticated product and an impressive client list, Bitmovin's growth has been rapid.
With over 140 team members from diverse backgrounds spread across the planet in 24 locations, the Bitmovin team operates in a distributed manner, meaning they are adjusting well to the current global remote working status quo. Bitmovin’s HQ is still in the original location of Klagenfurt, but there are two other main offices in Vienna and in San Francisco. It’s raised a total of €62.3M in funding so far.
The B2B market is a competitive one making it hard to break out and become a mainstream brand. Bitmovin has had no issues in this area though, and it's managed to attract some excellent talent. It probably helps that Bitmovin’s co-founders, CEO Stefan Lederer and CTO Christopher Müller, have impressive CVs. They previously created the MPEG-DASH video streaming standard, which powers streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube, and accounts for 50 percent of peak U.S. internet traffic.
Wikifolio is an alternative investing platform founded by Andreas Kern which enables traders to turn their portfolios into fully-fledged financial products called “wikifolios.” These wikifolios are then listed on the Börse Stuttgart stock exchange. As a social trading provider, wikifolios enable investors to participate in the performance of published model portfolios through exchange-traded financial products.
When we started this exercise, we were sure Wikifolio would be featured on our list. Employees we’ve spoken to are extremely positive about the company's culture and the team. The pace is fast and the work can be intense, so it’s not for everyone, but the atmosphere remains positive and morale high among the team. The organizational structure is simple, and that apparently makes communication within the company flow smoothly. Wikifolio has raised a €6M funding round led by Austrian early stage venture fund Speedinvest.
Bikemap provides innovative technology for cyclists worldwide. Their mission is to develope top-notch mapping and navigation technology, which is valuable to millions of users who use bicycles as their means of transportation. To date, more than 2.5M users have created over 4.5M unique cycling routes in 100+ countries with Bikemap. Bikemap has since evolved into an international platform with users in over 100 countries sharing their cycling experiences. It’s a beautiful product with lots of attention to detail, which surely helped it to cross borders and expand globally very quickly.
Bikemap is run by a small, but very dedicated team made up of a diverse collection of nationalities with employees hailing from Austria, Germany, Poland, Spain, USA, Ukraine, China and Malaysia. We were impressed by the feedback received from within the company about its culture and ethos.
It's a small team operating in a niche industry, but the company is a big contributor to the Austrian startup community. They host developer meet-ups at their office on a regular basis, and are a big presence at the key startup conferences and events, as well as supporting local cycling events.
The team at refurbed is enjoying its time in the spotlight after raising a €17M Series A round of funding last week led by Finish VC Evli Growth Partners, bringing its total fundraising to €19.2M.
Refurbed is a marketplace for refurbished electronics such as phones, laptops and tablets. Refurbished products can be 40% cheaper than brand new ones, working equally as well, and which are much more environmentally friendly. In fact, Refurbed was ranked in the top 3 most sustainable tech startups in Europe at the 2018 Green Alley Award.
Founded by friends Jurgen Riedl, Kilian Kaminski and Peter Windischhofer in 2017, the Refurbed team has grown to a whopping 80 people in a short space of time. It’s a diverse team with 15 different nationalities speaking 20 different languages. They are one of the most gender diverse teams on our list with a 50:50 split. They are also a very young team with the average age being 26 years old.
The Refurbed team is well positioned for aggressive growth. They are currently active in Austria, Germany, Poland and Italy, and now plan to use their latest funding to expand to additional markets in 2020. With such a diverse team and serious injection of capital, we suspect they will have no issues.
Whatchado is not your average job site. It is a video-based career platform that outlines jobs in a video format so that it’s easier for users to find the perfect role.
Whatchado is the veteran on our list. Founded by Ali Mahlodji, Johann Hansmann, Jubin Honarfar and Kambis Kohansal Vajargahand in 2012, Whatchado is now practically a household name in Austria. Like most start-ups, Whatchado has experienced some ups and downs over the years, but they have managed to come out on top.
With a small but solid team of 30, with a diverse ethnic makeup and professional backgrounds, Whatchado has recently revamped their team structure strategy. They have brought on a top HR manager and reorganized the structure of their leadership. They are focused on growth in 2020, but want to ensure that they keep the team culture and company ethos intact.
iamstudent is a discount coupon site designed exclusively for students. The platform offers a variety of coupons, competitions and tips & tricks about studying and student life.
In a very competitive startup world, bootstrapping (building a company from the ground up with nothing but personal savings) is almost a stigma. If you don’t raise funds from angel investors and VCs, some people will question your value. iamstudent is proving these naysayers wrong. Fully bootstrapped and profitable from day one, iamstudent has gone from strength to strength.
The benefit of bootstrapping is that the entrepreneur is able to maintain total control over all decisions and the business itself. And on top of that, all of the energy that other startups are spending on pitching venture capitalists goes into the product itself. This seems to have been the case with iamstudent, which has a very growth focused mindset.
Founded by five friends in Vienna in 2014, they have a young but strong and dynamic team of 20 with a diverse gender make-up of around 50:50. The vibe in the office is busy but relaxed. We sat down with one of the cofounders and CTO of iamstudent, Stefan Pointecker, and talked about the team, the Austrian startup ecosystem and iamstudent’s bright future.
“The startup ecosystem in Austria is now well positioned compared to when we founded iamstudent. If you are looking for support and exchange, you will definitely find it,” Pointecker said.
There are roughly 200 million students worldwide - so there’s no question that the market is there. iamstudent is already beginning its move outside of Austria where there are around 320,000 students, to Germany where the market is around 2.9 million students. They are expanding into a larger office space in the same building, and their future is looking bright.
Mimo is an app that teaches computer skills in a way that’s fun and interactive. Mimo can teach you how to code, make apps, build websites and automate tasks through the app’s bite-size exercises, projects and challenges that take only a minute to complete. Think of them as the Duolingo of coding.
The team is extremely passionate, and that’s visible in the product. It’s easy to use and delivers well for all ages, making it a great way for anyone to enter the development world. We really enjoy their informative editorial blog on Medium, which looks like it's on hold now, but we hope to see it revived soon.
Founded in 2016 in Vienna by Johannes Berger (CEO), Henry Ameseder (COO), Dennis Daume (CTO) and Lorenz Schimik (CPO), the start-up has raised a total of €650k in seed funding to date.
Growth is top of the agenda for this team. So far, the app has been used by 4 million people, and it plans to grow its content in the near future to cover topics such as AI, data science, hardware and machine learning.
Bitpanda is an online bitcoin and digital assets trading platform based in Vienna. They trade in cryptocurrencies, as well as precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum, and over 30 other digital assets.
It's a relatively young company that is taking Europe by storm. Bitpanda has firmly established its place in the global crypto industry. 2019 was a big year for the bitpanda team. They sold out their first Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) for its own ecosystem token BEST and raised €43.6 million. They also launched Bitpanda Global Exchange in 2019, a universal cryptocurrency exchange that would support crypto-to-crypto, as well as fiat-to-crypto trading.
Founded in 2014 by Eric Demuth, Paul Klanschek and Christian Trummer, the team has grown at a fast pace to keep up with the business’s hypergrowth. Today, Bitpanda has 180 team members and more than 1.2 million users. They are well on their way to achieving their goal of becoming the largest digital assets exchange in Europe. We hope they are successful in bringing their great company culture with them on this journey.
WeAreDevelopers is Europe’s leading community for developers. They aim to inspire, entertain, motivate and educate developers, while giving them a platform to be seen by the world. We had the pleasure of seeing the WAD team in action at the We Are Developers Congress 2019 in Vienna. WAD’s annual event, which started in 2015 with 300 attendees, is now the biggest development conference in Europe with more than 8000 developers attending in 2019.
It goes without saying that WAD’s growth has been rapid. They are a fast moving, young team made up of 14 different nationalities, and with a gender split of 50:50. The events they put together require a special set of diverse skill sets, not just coding.
WAD was founded by Sead Ahmetović (CEO), Benjamin Ruschin (MD) and Thomas Pamminger (VP Product). The team is growing quickly, which often means that the team culture needs to adjust along the way. However, this company manages to attract some excellent talent, many of whom have been with them for a long time. One employee posted a comment on a public employer review platform that we think sums things up quite well: “Young, fast growing, cool. Sometimes messy.”
The team’s next focus is on recruitment. They want to turn WeAreDevelopers into the leading recruiter of developers in Europe.
We looked at 62 companies in total. We were spoiled for choice by the Austrian startup talent and ranking the companies to compile the top 10 was no easy task. There were a few companies that cut it close to making the list that we would like to mention as runner ups: Smart lock maker Nuki from Gratz, mobile OCR SDK scanner Anyline from Vienna and mobile job Platform Hokify, also from Vienna.
In conclusion, there are some seriously impressive startups coming out of Austria with some amazing teams behind them. All of the companies that made it to our top 10 list have a diverse team and an open and transparent approach to business. On the whole, upper management of these companies seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on building the right company culture, even in times of rapid growth. The average tenure of an employee in the Austrian tech industry is 27 months, which is pretty impressive when compared to the average of 9 months in Silicon Valley.
Do you agree with our list?
Should your company have made this list? Or do you know of another company who should have? We want to hear your feedback, comments and suggestions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.