As always, the week around our flagship event in Vienna was an annual highlight for the Pioneers Ventures team and saw a mix of learning, connections and even success on stage for the portfolio companies, whose number has now soared to 31 following the recent investment in Prewave. Apart from celebrations around the fact that the portfolio companies have raised over €20m in follow-on funding since we invested in them, it was also a good week for Fleksy, which won startup honours at GovTech.Pioneers in the middle of the week, and Gustav, which reached the Pioneers Challenge Award Top 8 at Pioneers’18.
The week began with our investment arm’s annual retreat, which took place on Tuesday May 22nd in Vienna. The programme featured talks, networking and group sessions for the portfolio companies. Sessions included sales trainer Fadi Haddad speaking on Business Development for Startups, Speedinvest Pirates CEO Dieter Rappold’s Growth: Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast talk and a fireside chat on fundraising with Travis Pittman, the CEO of TourRadar, which last year raised $10m in a Series B round.
The big news on Wednesday was Fleksy’s success at GovTech.Pioneers, as we staged Europe’s first full-day Govtech event at Palais Wertheim in Vienna. The portfolio company, previously known as thingthing, won after pitching their secure, private and multi-language mobile keyboard to an expert panel of jurors. The Barcelona-based startup achieved huge publicity as a result of the win, and are already following up on several promising new leads. Victory also saw them fast-tracked into the Pioneers Challenge Top 50 at Pioneers’18 the next day.
There, it was human resources innovators Gustav who cracked the Top 8 and made it onto the biggest stage of them all, gaining huge visibility for their casual labour management platform as hundreds filled the room to watch the final pitches on the Arena Stage. Over the two days, though, all the companies got themselves in front of influential attendees, taking full advantage of a dedicated meeting area at the Pioneers Ventures booth and exclusive networking opportunities at the Pioneers Ventures Investors Breakfast.
"There’s always a great spirit in the air during Pioneers events, and this year that was even more noticeable,” said Philipp Stangl, Managing Director. “At the retreat it was amazing to see how the founders immediately started to connect with each other and share best practices – it definitely pays off to invest in open-minded, smart and curious founders who are always eager to learn!
“Then during Pioneers’18, it was good to see that the ongoing relationships we nurture with top global investors (with a focus on Europe), led to a genuine interest in many of our portfolio companies who are currently fundraising. Of course the atmosphere of the event and the fact that everyone was in the same 500-year-old palace also helped a lot!"
"We had a great time and met a lot of interesting people including other startups, advisors, investors and media," said Jernej Fužir, CEO of Slovenian speech therapy startup Blub Blub. "They all shared a lot of knowledge and experience with us. We also had the opportunity to pitch our to investors at the Pioneers Investors Breakfast.
"Then we were lucky enough to be chosen for a chance to pitch to the media. Following that, TechCrunch and TechTrends will both be writing stories about us to help us reach more users (parents). Thanks very much to Pioneers for giving us all this opportunity!"
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, the major highlight for Pioneers Ventures will once again be the annual networking trip to Silicon Valley in September. As always, several portfolio companies will come along and enjoy introductions to key members of our network in California. Joining them will be SzeleSTIM, which ultimately prevailed in the startup competition at Pioneers’18 and will take part in the trip as part of the prize. Among others major figures, they’ll meet legendary investor Tim Draper, just as Stromkind did last year. (For the story of that trip, click here.)
Visit the Pioneers Ventures page here.