With only 8 million people, Austria is not exactly a large country in Europe and until recently the country’s Web/Tech Scene has been correspondingly small. However, it’s getting there. A number of startups have turned up in recent Seedcamps in Berlin and Ljubjana, Slovenia and in fact three Austrian start ups were chosen as finalists in the former city. Years ago this would have been pretty unlikely. With the rise of VCs, government funds and enthusiast entrpreneurs, the Austrian tech scene seems to be experiencing some sort of renaissance.
When looking at Austrian Start-ups there haven’t been any noteworthy exits or internationally viable business the last few years, apart from Austrian Founders who decided to either start their business beyond the Alps (i.e. Last.fm, Martin Stiksel, Co-Founder) or even beyond the Atlantic Ocean (i.e. Jajah, by Roman Scharf & Daniel Mattes). This was most likely due to a lack of infrastructure and a certain “entrpreneurial spirit” within the country.
Highly qualified students, both coming from a business and technical side, decided to go into larger corporations, devoting their work force to Clients or – as indicated above – moving somewhere else. Furthermore the VC industry, especially eary stage funds, had not been established yet. Of course there had and have been several private equity firms and VCs, however none of them had a clearly Web-focused strategy, let alone a portfolio.
Now times seem to be changing – thankfully. There is an active Social Media scene, nationwide Barcamps, Open Coffee Clubs or Mobile Mondays; Entrepreneurs are sprouting around the Country and although being in the midst of a macroeconomic crisis governmental funds such as “Departure” are providing several million dollars for “creative industries”. These developments led to the recent Berlin Seedcamp where Platogo, MendMyPC and Vooch were among it’s finalists.
Platogo provides a sophisticated platform for flash game developers. While in-browser games such as Quake Live seem to be really kicking off in the next few years, for small development teams and game companies it’s incredibly difficult to build sustainable and large online games, let alone managing revenues or marketing. Platogo wants to change that by being a gaming social net itself and serving an API that lets devs build their own products on top. Revenues are then shared between Platogo and the respective gaming company.
With the rise of mobile devices and it’s endless possibilites, especially the iPhone, couponing services are striving to find their way in and onto the Web. Similar in some respects to Yoose, Vooch enables business to distribute coupons via mobile devices. The service has started in Beta and is now offering a very limited and Austrian focused portfolio of vouchers. The app acts as a managing tool for both companies offering vouchers and users that are able to edit their particular field of interests and location where vouchers can be redeemed. The success of Vooch will be highly dependent on how quickly they are able to acquire business to fill their database of potential vouchers.
If you are working in the Web/Tech Scene one of your mates will always ask you for advice when he or she has technical issues with the PC (most likely it’s a PC, not a Mac). That’s where MendMyPc comes into play. Users can create tickets describing their PC problems. This will then slip into an open marketplace where technicians can post their bids. The concept is nothing new and problem solving via genre-related crowd-sourcing has often been proven to work in a variety of other work areas. The website itself looks rather Web 1.0, but hopefully there’l be a re-vamped version soon. Other than that their business model is absolutely clear (commision-per-transcation based) and the demand for such a service is – as most of you probably know – probably rather strong.