Earlier this year, 18 Austrian startups (click here for the complete list) were selected to participate in a three months business accelerator programme in San Francisco, as part of the “Go Silicon Valley“ tech initiative, funded by the Ministry of Economy and the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO).
After inventures.eu talked to Andreas Töttl, cofounder of journi (read more here) about the beginning of the programme, founder and CEO of Wollzelle Thomas Pamminger now shares his experiences of the WKO initiative while being in the middle of hands on workshops and business courses. The Vienna-born startup began the accelerator programme on the 1 May.
Exclusive workshops, courses and connection
Andy Bechtholsheim is only one of the experts Pamminger worked with in Silicon Valley; Photo credit: WollzelleThe WKO events started before the startup’s departure, giving Wollzelle an opportunity to meet alumni and gather essential tips to prepare for the experience.
As part of the programme, Pamminger participated in Rick Rasmussens’ MBA-style classes at NestGSV, which focused on startup-related topics, such as financing issues and team building “It’s energising and inspiring. […] Discussions can be quite intense, and direct: there’s no dallying around the subject with experts, and this can take a little while to get used to. But no matter how frank their feedback, it is always well worth listening to,” Thomas knows and adds: “Tim Connors, the founder of PivotNorthCapital, was also a key source of insights into the Silicon Valley VC mindset, and the intricacies of funding.”
No accelerator programme would be complete, however, without a pitching workshop, which in this case was provided by Steve Austin. This initiative gave Pamminger a chance to hone his pitching skills, a goal he planned to tick off while in San Francisco.
The Silicon Valley life is ‘transformative’
The Wollzelle team meetings are organised through video call these days; Photo credit: WollzelleWhen Pamminger got the news that Wollzelle was accepted for the programme, he had only 45 days to prepare before leaving for San Francisco on 29 April. “I was a little worried, but luckily, my great team at Wollzelle rose to the occasion, and we made it happen together,” he explained. “The energy in Silicon Valley and the concentration of talent, have to be experienced to be believed. The past few weeks have been exciting, challenging, rewarding. The word ‘transformative’ springs to mind.”
The Vienna-based startup was founded in 2000 and gradually grew to a team of six, offering a cloud-based image processing service that makes true responsive images practicable. While the startup was bootstrapped, Wollzelle’s products are “already in use by industry leaders like Gucci, and hundreds of companies large and small who cannot afford to wait for web standards to catch up with reality,” Paminger explained.
So, with objectives in mind, the Silicon Valley experience did not disappoint: “San Francisco feels like the epicenter of knowledge and opportunity: there are talks, lectures, and meetings every single day, breakthrough ideas to learn about, new technologies to explore, super-smart people to meet. It never ends! Everyone is open and friendly, and the energy is contagious,” the young CEO told inventures.eu.
Taking part in “Go Silicon Valley”
Since earlier this month, Andreas Röttl shared his tips on getting ready for Sillicon Valley (read about it here), here is what Thomas Pamminger advised for participants of the programme:
1. Plan everything as early as possible.
2. Focus on goals that can be measured and validated.
3. When something is impossible to plan, don’t be afraid to meet challenges head on.
4. Whatever you do, stay close to your place of work, and get a car. Being mobile is the key, and there is a lot of ground to cover!
5. Once on location, it is essential to go out, mingle, and be open. People around the Valley focus on execution, and not so much on exchanging ideas.
6. Most importantly, don’t wait to be picked. Focus on your goals, and absorb as much as you can of the local culture as possible.
7. Make the right contacts, get immersed into the culture, and turn your trip into an experience.
8. It won’t be fast, and it won’t be easy, so take your time, and don’t give up when the going gets tough. It always turns around.