Start-ups serving event industry

The Salzburg region was once considered a start-up no man’s land, but is now seen as a veritable start-up breeding ground. Several subsidised start-ups are also of interest to event organisers.

Looking at Mozart’s story from another perspective; although back then it was unlikely Mozart would have been accepted at the prince-bishoprical court and the young composer’s talent would ever be discovered, nowadays, our brightest minds are courted and wooed. The declared goal is to establish Salzburg as the most start-up-friendly region in Austria. There is now a notably competitive atmosphere around the place. Since 2016, eight institutions have served as business incubators – above all the regional government and chambers of commerce – ensuring recently founded businesses are supplied with the professional-standards of knowhow, sparring opportunities and platforms upon which to promote themselves. Once a year an expert jury selects five to seven projects it sees as being the most promising in their respective fields, and awards each regional government start-up capital of €25,000. This year a sum total of around €150,000 has been awarded so far, although the amount grows with the density of start-ups. Each business is awarded a state-financed risk capital premium of up to €50,000.

Start-ups begin to bear fruit

Business angels have also begun to take notice of Salzburg’s start-up activities. BiLLiTii is a platform that specialises in providing everyday advice for people in wheelchairs. This March the founder appeared on the popular Austrian Puls4 TV pitch show ‘Two Minutes – Two Million’ and landed a risk capital sponsor who was so impressed that he spontaneously agreed to contribute €150,000.  

Pimcore is a Salzburg start-up specialising in data management, and was recently placed on the ‘Cool Vendors List’ by Gartner, the US multinational consultancy service; something very few Austrian businesses have ever achieved.

Typs GmbH’s was also considered worthy of an international accolade for their alpine ski tailoring service. Siegfried Rumpfhuber was once a world-class skier and later managed two ski manufacturing businesses. This February, at the Ispo, the world’s largest winter sports trade fair in Munich, he won the ‘Innovation of the Year’ award. ‘Original+’ is a brand that promises customers a perfect pair of skis for €600 to €800. There are only one or two producers of bespoke skis around the world and they charge up to €2500 for the privilege. Rumpfhuber explains his USP: “We have automated much of our technology and cooperate with a small factory near Zell am See.” The official market entry will be in readiness for the 2018/19 winter season.

Buffet and mobility solutions

Anyone planning banquets or dinners has to consider that around half of the people in the western world forego animal-based products at certain times, that increasing numbers of guests are allergic to particular ingredients and indeed that many also avoid foods for religious reasons, seeking halál and kosher catering. Salzburg is now able to fall back on the help of easyVegan to meet such catering challenges. The start-up provides great, broadly popular lentil-based catering. From its humble beginnings delivering with a market trolley, easyVegan has now grown to become a supplier of partly-cooked, pre-produced guaranteed vegetable-based foods for large-scale kitchens, canteens and events.

Bernhard Lienbacher is a Salzburg carpenter studying to become a master of wood processing technology and is another one of the region’s entrepreneurial shining lights. He brought back his business idea from a holiday in Thailand: Processing tree bark to produce a natural form of insulation that keeps foods and drinks cool or warm; another solution that benefits operators of buffets. He joined up with other colleagues at the wood expertise college HFS Kuchl to found the company ‘barkinsulation’ and under the ‘Patronus’ label developed a press to manufacture their first purely ecologically sustainable wine and beer coolers. Each cooler costs €47 and demand is so great that the barkinsulation team is already working on the development of their own thermos flasks, drinks bottles, mulled wine mugs and various other bark-based vessels.

BiLLiTii deals with the question of what to do in Salzburg as a wheelchair user or as a visitor with other mobility handicaps. The company name is derived from the word ‘ability’. The start-up intends to use a free web platform to integrate people with restricted mobility into everyday life as much as possible. BiLLiTii provides tips about the best barrier-free venues and places to visit, the best orthopaedic surgeons, operating instructions for various situations etc. The free information service is to be funded by companies that market products for the disabled, and those who wish to contribute as sponsors. BiLLiTii’s founder Horst Eckstein also has a handicap. The 38-year-old former skier has lived with a paralysed left arm since he had a moped accident at the age of 16.

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