STARTeurope brings together the European ecosystem for StartUp Week 2011 in Vienna

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Just before the TechSparks Grand Finale, we at YourStory.in caught up with Juergen Furian and Andreas Tschas, the founders of STARTeurope, one of the main players in the entrepreneurial scene in Central Europe, conducting a lots of high-class events and enabling plenty of startups on a regular basis. Here’s an excerpt from the chat where they speak about their initiatives and give insights into the European ecosystem.What is STARTeurope?

STARTeurope is an organisation that creates new startups and fosters the entrepreneurial thinking and action in Europe. It is also the fastest growing startup community in Europe.

What is your background and why have you started STARTeurope?

STARTeurope was founded in Vienna by a circle of entrepreneurial people with technical and economic backgrounds in 2009. Driven by the same ideas – being the need for change in existing mindsets – the group of young people started challenging traditional perspectives. The vision was to activate and foster entrepreneurial thinking and to create new successful startups. Especially in a time where the future cannot be predicted anymore, the creative capacity of humans becomes the most valuable asset. So, STARTeurope supports this by believing that “the ideas of today are the opportunities of tomorrow.”

One of your flagship events is called “STARTup Live.” What is this format like? What is your target market?

STARTup Live is a 3-day startup event that provides networking, resources and incentives for individuals and teams to go from idea to launch. It’s like power boosting your startup to another universe in the shortest time possible. Our main focus lies on Central and Eastern Europe. But we encourage every entrepreneurial mind in the world who wants to push entrepreneurship in his ecosystem to the next level with the help of a STARTup Live event.

What makes this particular format so interesting? Share some stats about STARTup live.

It’s a very powerful format because people with different backgrounds (tech, biz, design etc.) and different entrepreneurial stages (people in idea stage to founders of startups) come together to work on business ideas. Besides, it’s mentor-driven and expert-rated. Simply put, it is a fruitful place to expand your network, find the right people to work with and learn from each other. So far, we have organized 17 events and are planning around 40 in 2012. Our events attracted more than 2000 participants from various backgrounds and 23 new startups, which has resulted in the creation of around 65 new jobs.

Your events have been conducted in various different cities across Europe. (How) can this be duplicated in India?

We are working on a web platform that will help people in other countries organizing these kinds of events easily. Hosts will be able to use our know-how, get connected in the international startup world and learn from each other. The most important part is that we are working on a more sustainable system as we often see a decline of quality in the projects after the event.

How has the startup scene developed in the last three years and what was your contribution?

I wouldn’t say that we have kick-started the startup thinking in Austria. There have been some success stories before. The difference is that from the day we have started, a serious startup community started to evolve. We are more like a neutral hub for entrepreneurs and people interested in that community. Through our activities, people noticed that there are more opportunities out there than just the regular career path as an employee in a big corporate. There is a permanent exchange of thoughts in that community going on and more and more people are working on new ideas and concepts. We’ve even left our fingerprint at the universities. We supported and co-designed hands on startup courses and set up co-operations between different universities. I can go on and on because a lot has happened in the last years but the most important thing is that the community is growing and it’s growing fast!

How do you currently see the startup eco-system in Central Europe (compared to the US or other markets)?

There is a lot going on in Europe. The difference is the size of the market and the fragmentation of the European countries. There are a lot of cities in Europe where more and more entrepreneurial spirit can be felt and you can definitely breathe in the smell of fresh startups in the air. There is nothing like Silicon Valley in Europe. We have entrepreneurial hubs like London and Berlin, with more and more cities going in that direction and developing their own entrepreneurial ecosystem. I think we have to get away from the thinking that there has to be one place where all the magic happens. We at STARTeurope have found a way to recognize that and transform it into an advantage for Europe's ecosystem.

What are the challenges for startups in Europe now?

During the past two years, we have seen that every country wants to establish their capital as the entrepreneurial city in Europe. On the one hand, the change in mindset is happening. Especially the younger generation is working on unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe and starts to create things instead of just managing things. On the other hand, this is happening on a “local” basis trying to be the city of entrepreneurship in Europe. We believe that Europe’s biggest challenge is to establish a European startup ecosystem, combining all the local movements. What are most vibrant cities in Europe to startup? The number one city when it comes to startups is definitely London, closely followed by Berlin. Nevertheless, there is a lot going on in Europe. More and more cities are evolving. Vienna, Barcelona, Budapest and many more cities are heating up!

You are hosting StartUpWeek 2011 in Vienna. What can we expect from this event?

It will be 5 days of festival-feeling in Vienna. Our 50 outstanding startups and our 70 international top-class speakers will be the stars on stage. And in addition to the main event, there will be 12 more focus events around Vienna. We bring together innovative people from all over Europe as well as international startup stars and offer huge networking-chances for everyone.

Why could the StartUpWeek be interesting for Indian entrepreneurs?

On one hand, Indian entrepreneurs can connect with the European startup scene and expand their Europe network. On the other hand, YourStory is hosting a side-event during the StartUp Week, showcasing the Indian startup eco-system to European entrepreneurs and investors.

To know more about the focus event at StartupWeek “The Indian Startup ecosystem by YourStory.in”, click here. You can also learn more about STARTeurope at http://www.starteurope.at/.

Wolfgang Bergthaler | YourStory.in

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