Entrepreneurship in the 21st century

December 07, 2015

Austrian startup experts gave insights into the international startup community.

A very special entrepreneur event took place at the WU Executive Academy on November 27, 2015. Austrian startup experts gave some 120 guests exciting insights into the international startup community.

From left to right: Daniel Cronin, Mae Hansen, Ramtin Ghasemipour-Yazdi, Michael Altrichter, Harald Trautsch and Clemens Wass

Based on their own experiences, they discussed current hot topics in entrepreneurship and shared their personal formulas for success with the audience. The evening also saw a technological first: The “Superevent” app not only enabled the participants to exchange views and opinions on selected topics before the event but also gave them a say, during the panel discussion, in choosing the topics to be covered by the panelists.

Startups are extremely popular. Dr. Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé, Managing Director of the WU Executive Academy, welcomed an audience of approximately 120 students and alumni, in the nearly-filled foyer of the WU Executive Academy. What made this event special was not only the subject matter that many people are keenly interested in but also that it featured an extraordinary panel of handpicked experts. This was also emphasized by Rudolf Dömötör, the CEO of WU Vienna's new Entrepreneurship Center, who outlined his plans for the future: “An outstanding panel indeed. I am absolutely delighted to be here tonight. Entrepreneurship and startup counseling have been very close to my heart for many years. It is great to see that these topics, which will be crucially important in the future, receive even more attention thanks to events like this.”


Michael Altrichter, the 2014 Business Angel of the Year, who is known to a wider audience for participating as an investor in the startup show “2 Minuten 2 Millionen” (2 minutes 2 millions) on PULS 4, an Austrian private TV station, took part in a panel discussion with four WU Executive Academy alumni, who have made their names as successful entrepreneurs in recent years: Harald Trautsch, an entrepreneur who has founded many startups, including dolphin, everbill and ticketgarden.com; Mae Hansen, the chairwoman of the supervisory board of Estonian first Co-Operative Bank; Ramtin Ghasemipour-Yazdi, a business modeling expert; and Clemens Wass, a founding member of the EU project openlaws. The panel discussion was moderated by Daniel Cronin, who is a member of the board at AustrianStartups. 

The Discussion Points

A wide variety of topics were covered during the evening, ranging from the successful funding of startups and the best approaches to pitching projects all the way to tips and tricks for achieving success at the international level. In addition, the panel, which was expertly hosted by Daniel Cronin, a co-founder and board member of AustrianStartups, addressed a number of highly interesting questions, such as:

Does entrepreneurship need to be learned?

Mae Hansen:
I think that some people just have what it takes in their DNA. Not everybody is a born leader. The key traits for a good entrepreneur are being capable to learn and being capable to fail – and to learn from that. 

Ramtin Ghasemipour-Yazdi: I also believe that there is a certain spirit you have to possess and cannot learn.

Michael Altrichter: When I founded a startup at the age of 28, I couldn’t even read the tax sheets. The most important thing is to try it out and see if it works out. At a university, you learn a lot about yourself and you gain self-confidence, which can make you a good entrepreneur. 

What makes a great idea?


Harald Trautsch: One of the biggest mistakes is looking for an idea. It is much better to search for a problem and then find a solution for it. Every industry is evolving, so there is a lot of space for new companies and their solutions.

Michael Altrichter: The point is that an idea makes only about 10% of the success. I would say that the formula for success is 10 % inspiration and 90 % perspiration.A good founder can make a company work successfully.

Mae Hansen: You need to be able to identify the gap in the market. For example with Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg found the gap at the campus. Education helps you by giving you the tools for this identifying process.

How do I know that my team is good?


Clemens Wass: The team is the tricky part. We compete with big companies and it’s hard to get these people on board.

Ramtin Ghasemipour-Yazdi: I found that I needed some kind of common experience with each other founder – like the university or the military service. Also, you need to work out what happens if somebody leaves, because later on, there is no room for negotiation.

Michael Altrichter: You can’t know beforehand if your team is good. The right prerequisite is social skills. The ideal is that four or five founders are covering all the parts. If there are rivalries, you have to discuss the point and take time.

Mae Hansen: You can patch up many things, but your people need to have a common ground on their values. If they don’t, sooner or later your team will break up. And be careful if you look for your team amongst your friends – the chance is 50/50: Either you will be friends for life or you will not see them ever again.

The right network in your pocket

Thanks to a technological highlight, the audience had plenty of opportunity to provide input in the course of the event: For the first time, "Superevent", an internationally successful app, was used at the WU Executive Academy. This interactive tool not only enabled the participants to exchange views and opinions on selected topics before the event but also gave them a say, during the panel discussion, in choosing the topics to be covered by the panelists. Ines Reith, who attended the event, is convinced of the benefits of an app like "Superevent": “You avoid questions where people just like to hear themselves talk“, says the post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WU. “The app prevents this from happening during the Q&A sessions,” she adds.

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