Austrians will still remember the short messaging portal sms.at that went online in 1999. Its founders, the brothers Martin and Jürgen Pansy, now are heads of UT11 that develops mobile solutions. Currently, they are diversifying to become a “company builder” that wants to locate and support talented minds that have a concrete business idea. For that purpose, they partnered up with private equity managers to allocate some five million euros towards giving the most promising tech venture ideas a hand to make their international breakthrough.
“Our goal is to attract the brightest minds in the region and form a digital founder scene around Up To Eleven (UT11) that is successfully operating from Graz on an international basis,” UT11 CEO Martin Pansy is quoted on their blog. Though UT11 is bound to invest a lot of capital, slots for interested founders are very limited: “Since we also will be closely collaborating with the ventures we take on, we will be very selective,” Martin Pansy explained and added “we will be even more selective in terms of the ideas; our core competence is mobile and we want to strengthen that further.”
Mentoring, developing assistance, office space
The Graz-based agency UT11 has had success with mobile applications such as mysms that is currently used by more than 1.5 million users. Besides capital and international networks, UT11 provides also assistance in coding, design, marketing and a fully equipped office space in Graz for the venture. The number of supported startups is also very important, as the Pansy brothers point out: “We want to take on one startup per year until 2020 and invest more than five million in the scene. We say ‘less is more’ and want to fully concentrate on one idea.”
The team at UT11 focuses on a less-is-more approach as they also plan to bring in expertise from their existing teams by temporarily implementing employees to the startup currently taken care of. For when it comes to the selection process, interested startups can simply fill out a contact form on the agency’s homepage, turn it in and pitch their idea at UT11’s office. “After the pitch they will definitely get feedback because we would like to help even if we come to the conclusion that the idea in questions does not suit us,” said Pansy.
Private Equity specialists to back it up
Capital is being provided by the agency Up to Eleven itself, respectively its shareholders, and private equity manager Rene Berger and investor Toto Wolff. Both are shareholders of UT11 and founders of the equity capital venture next march and march.fifteen, respectively. Since a management buyout in 2012, both are aboard of UT11. Still, the agency will be seeking additional seed capital on a case-to-case basis, if needed: “Depending on a certain startup, we will be on the lookout for additional capital sources to further support the growth phase,” Pansy commented.