The Austrian Startup Scene – An Interview With Marcus Pohorely

 

Part of the reasoning behind the Founded X initiative was to give startup communities around the world a chance to promote what they do. When announcing the blog, we mentioned that to get real insight into these communities we would conduct interviews with not only founders of startups but also with ‘Curators’ who run the Founded in X — Country Lists. These people are passionate about the startup community of which they represent.

Marcus Pohorely is the curator of Founded In Austria — talking to him in January was a great education on what’s going on there. Not only is he a huge supporter of Austrian startups and runs Founded in Austria, he also has a few neat products of his own that have spun out of his own company Clubdesign.at. I liked this because it’s great when we see curators who are founders themselves. Here’s a brief insight to what I learnt about Austria from Marcus.

AF: What do you do Marcus? Tell us a bit about you.

MP: I’m a web developer running my own company (Clubdesign.at) focused on building websites and web apps, sometimes with clients, sometimes just for fun, like our very own product Pagelanes. I’m also part of Probots & Les Avignons crew here in Graz, which are small studios of several excellent freelancers from different genres working together closely.

AF: How would you describe the Austrian startup scene?

MP: Relatively tight-knit. Maybe it’s because Austria is such a small country, but you end up meeting and getting to know all the involved after a while. But it could always be better, which is one of the reasons we wanted Founded In to bring people even closer together and offer an overview for people starting out.

AF: What is the toughest challenge facing Austrian founders today?

MP: This is sort of a continuation from the previous question. A difficulty is generating wide-spread interest, especially outside of startup circles. Internet penetration is excellent, but people seem to be a bit reluctant to try out new products, apps or services in general and therefore finding early adopters can be difficult. Another part is the infrastructure/startup system, we don’t have very many investors taking risks. A lot of the startups are completely self-financed or side projects entirely. This is another downside to being a smaller country, but for some it’s also a key motivational factor. We’ll have to see how legislative/infrastructure decisions shape the Austrian startup ecosystem once politicians catch wind of this growing part of the economy.

AF: Austria has had some great startups emerge in recent years such as Codeship & Play.fm. What are the reasons behind Austrian companies doing so well?

MP: I think that when Austrian startups gain outside interest and traction, they’re already very mature, have the key parts of their futures mapped out and outside forces (like funding or just general media interest) will boost a positive foundation exponentially.

AF: What Austrian startup are you most excited about and why?

MP: NOKI, because the thought of combining Austrian craftsmanship with technology looks very, very good. We’re of course very proud of Codeship, Chatgrape and Crate for how they’re growing.

AF: What impressed you about FoundedX and why did you decide to take on the curation of Founded In Austria?

MP: The whole crew just really liked the idea of offering an overview of national startups, to help boost recognition and the possibilities that open up down the line. Like better connect startups with job applicants, users and also investors. We really hope that Founded In Austria will not just become a snapshot of a certain tech scene at one point in time, but sort of a knowledge base that might help something that’s an idea now, turn into a company in the future.

AF: What does the future look like for Austrian startups?

MP: I think we’ll see more interest from investors and financiers and more professionalization from startups in Austria. Let’s hope the public in general will catch up with awesome companies creating amazing products. As we say on our FiA site, considering we’re one of the richest countries, great standards of living, care systems and growing industry, we believe these positive economic factors will help the startup economy here grow, through technology and industry growing together and people taking on risks and innovations to make their vision a reality. Fingers crossed that in a few years Austria will be the hotbed for startups in Europe.

Thanks Marcus! It really was a pleasure to get chatting to you. We’re now well informed about Austria and can keep an eye on Founded In Austria to see how things progress over the next year. If anybody wishes to contact Marcus, please reach out to hello@foundedx.com and we’d be happy to make an introduction. You can also follow Founded In Austria on twitter.