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More than just Red Bull – an introduction to the Austrian startup scene Written by Alex Pühringer on 12. April 2013

Home to high mountains, beautiful landscapes and famous energy drinks – Austria is seen as one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. While the country might be great for sightseeing and skiing, is it any good for entrepreneurship? Absolutely, says Alexander Pühringer Founder and CEO of Linz-based LINKILIKE.

Read on for Pühringer’s lowdown on the Austrian startup scene and his picks for the most promising startups to keep an eye out for…


In the last couple of years, Austria has established quite a dynamic startup scene – especially on the Linz/Vienna axis – that can be attributed to the Austrian educational system along with attractive government grants for young entrepreneurs.

Institutions such as the University of Linz and the ICT-specialised University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg have trained an army of well-educated young minds ready to challenge the European ICT industry. Runtastic, Kochabo and mySugr are just a few names that some might consider as well-established startups from the Austrian alps.

In addition, a network of public and private incubators are attracting graduates with office space, loans, mentoring services and early-stage funding to get their business off the ground and to develop a prototype.

In these centers, it is common for experts to advise young entrepreneurs on how to proceed with their idea. For me personally, the most useful service was the support I received when applying to government support programmes for my startup LINKILIKE.

The missing links in the scene? Follow-up funding

Even an excited Austrian entrepreneur will admit that the downside of the country’s startup scene is the difficulty of exiting. Despite the many government grants for early-stage support, there are hardly any business angels or venture capital firms that invest in potential highfliers after they run out of public funds.

In Austria, business angels are so scarce that you don’t even need all fingers of your hands to count them. For that reason, most entrepreneurs look for funding abroad and some even leave the country in favour of places like the US and UK.

Government Funding Berlin

Austrian entrepreneurship is a mixture of reliability and thinking outside the box instilled with a hint of fear. Failing with your business in Austria is quite different than it is in the US and still has a detrimental effect on the founders – it’s still a bit of a hurdle. Conversely, it might be this need to succeed that allows our agile startup scene to produce a relatively high number of successes.

5 Austrian startups to look out for

Watch out for the following startups from the heart of Europe:

hotelkitHotelkit is a web-based social intranet platform that helps independent hotels and hotel chains improve internal communication, implement efficient processes and quality management. The startup provides intranet solutions focused on knowledge management. Since Hotelkit’s launch nine months ago, the service is used in more than 70 hotels in Austria and Germany.

lingohubLingohub makes it easy to roll out products globally without the usual headaches. The company integrates translations seamlessly into the software, web or mobile app development process, which turns localisation for the global market into a scalable, on-demand service. The Linz-based startup promises a disruptive, hassle-free cloud service built on human connections.

UsersnapUsersnap transforms the way customers provide web-based feedback. It enables visitors of a website to communicate visually and create annotations by drawing with a pen or highlighting important areas within the browser. The service is useful for reporting bugs, receiving general suggestions from visitors and as a tool for customer service.

SclableSclable provides an innovative platform for companies to create custom software to support all kinds of business processes. Sclable solutions can be used across the areas of eCommerce, CRM, supply chain management or any other data-based businesses. Additionally, the solution can be integrated to any existing systems or act as a central database.

SmartbowSmartbow develops innovative management products for the agricultural sector. One of the products includes a Real-Time Animal Positioning System that allows farmers to locate cows and pigs right in real time and informs of changes in animal behaviour so that care can be provided immediately.

Image credits:
featured image of Austria – flickr user joiseyshowaa
Piggy bank – flickr user 401 (K) 2012

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Milan – Italy’s top startup hub?
“Krakow is to Berlin what yin is to yang” – inside Poland’s tech talent stronghold