For the purposes of venture capital and entrepreneurship, Austria should be understood as an offshoot of Bavaria and also a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe. It should additionally be viewed as a gateway to the former states that were possessions of its old empire. With such a happening city, Vienna is in itself a unique city with an amazing lust for kultur and the arts.
The country is home to 8m people, of whom 25% live in the capital city of Vienna. At one point in history this country controlled more than half of the landmass of Europe and their capital city reflects this history of taxing half the continent. Today, Austria’s capital city seems a bit too big for the tiny country. One echo of former Austro-Hungarian empire days can be heard today because Vienna investors actually do understand the countries of their former empire: the Balkans and surrounding central European countries of Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the former Yugoslav states – Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and so on.
I have a personal connection to Austria as I was hired to move to Vienna and sell fiber optic cables and turn-key network builds for telecom, energy, highway and military applications where fiber optic networks were sprouting up everywhere in the mid 90’s. I actually followed the Austrian historical connections and they introduced me to their counterparts in neighboring countries and I ended up selling fiber optic cables and network components in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Those were wild days taking ferries over blown up bridges, having meetings in half destroyed buildings in Sarajevo and meeting French UN soldiers in the hotel bar.
This experience actually led me to found my first venture-backed startup when I moved back to the States. I ended up getting an apartment in Old Town Bratislava which is only a 45 minute drive from Vienna and found it cheaper and more fun as the Berlin Wall falling down was still a recent occurrence back then. I traveled for two years to every single bundeslad (provence) on the job with both snowboard and skis in my car. In 2000 I married a woman from Bratislava (where 18 Austro-Hungarian monarchs were coronated) and actually fly through Vienna International Airport when going to see the in-laws as it is located half way between Vienna and Bratislava; so I have enjoyed the delights of Vienna at Christmas and mid-summer on a regular basis since my two years of working there.
The only VC I’ve ever met in Vienna is Gamma Capital Partners. I keep an eye out mainly for life science companies in Austria which are truly best in class, but don’t be surprised to find some cool music or art company coming from this culture capital one day. More info at www.avco.at.
A bit of humor before the list. Germans make lots of jokes about their Austrian cousins, because things are a bit more relaxed in Austria compared to super organized Germany. The Germans probably feel like they are in Italian chaos compared to being at home; so here are two quick blond-type jokes. Germans tell them back to back and by the 5th one they truly crack you up and after 10 they get cruel 😉
What’s the difference between the Swiss and Austrian national flags?… The Swiss have a plus sign!
What happens when a blond moves from Germany to Austria?… The average IQ in both countries goes up!
European VC Roundtable & Book Tour Events
I am planning a series of VC Roundtable & Book Tour events in Europe in May and June of 2014. I am planning events in London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and other cities. If you are a VC and want to participate on one of my VC panels please get in touch. If you are a law firm or accelerator / shared startup work space and host events or if you want to sponsor an event please get in touch. In each city I also organize a VIP dinner the night before or after with a max of 20 people, typically sponsored by wealth managers. Get in touch if appropriate.
League Table for the Most Active VCs in Austria
These league tables like the other ones I have posted are a bit out of date. These represent research for VCs that invested in Austrian domiciled startups in rounds of at least $3m in 2009 and 2010.
|1||SHS Ges. f. Beteiligungsmanagement mbH||Tübingen, Germany||US$ 115||2|
|2||Aescap Venture||Amsterdam, Netherlands||Venture Capital||US$ 125||1|
|3||Atlas Venture||Cambridge, MA||Venture Capital||US$ 1,973||1|
|4||Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH||Vienna, Austria||Government||US$ 264||1|
|5||Credit Agricole Private Equity||Paris, France||US$ 4,456||1|
|6||Delta Partners Ltd.||Dublin, Ireland||Venture Capital||US$ 303||1|
|7||Earlybird Venture Capital GmbH & Co.||Berlin, Germany||Venture Capital||US$ 514||1|
|8||Gamma Capital Partners||Vienna, Austria||US$ 84||1|
|9||Intel Capital||Santa Clara, CA||Corporate Venture Capital||US$ 1,449||1|
|10||Merck Serono Ventures||Geneva, Switzerland||Corporate Venture Capital||US$ 48||1|
|11||MIG Fonds||Munich, Germany||Venture Capital||US$ 481||1|
|12||MP Healthcare Venture Management||Boston, MA||Venture Capital||1|
|13||New Energy Fund (NEF)||Portugal||Unknown||1|
|14||OrbiMed Advisors LLC||New York, NY||Venture Capital||US$ 6,000||1|
|15||Polaris Venture Partners||Waltham, MA||Venture Capital||US$ 3,049||1|
|16||S.R. One Ltd.||Conshohocken||Corporate Venture Capital||US$ 322||1|
|17||SV Life Sciences Advisers LLC||Boston, MA||US$ 2,062||1|
|18||TVM Capital GmbH||Munich, Germany||Venture Capital||US$ 1,563||1|
|19||Ventech SA||Paris, France||Venture Capital||US$ 439||1|
If you want to come to Europe this summer there is no better place to be in June than Stockholm and London. Join us!
Stockholm – The Future of Raising Angel & Venture Capital Funding – June 3
Stockholm – The Future of Angel & Venture Capital Investing – June 4
London – The Future of Angel & Venture Capital Investing – June 9
London – The Future of Raising Angel & Venture Capital Funding – June 11