After an intensely insightful first day at Pioneers ’19 (which you can read about here), day two in Vienna saw plenty of action as our flagship event built towards its traditional climax – the Pioneers Challenge Top 8 finals.
Few will forget the sight of the Grand Hall (Zeremoniensaal) packed with would-be Quadrille dancers learning the moves of a Viennese classic with Professor Thomas Schäfer-Elmayer of the Elmayer Dance School. And while we would be lying if we said many of our tech innovators showed potential for a pivot to Strictly Come Dancing, it made for one of the more memorable interludes in our history. The Hofburg goes hand-in-hand with dancing, after all!
When it wasn’t playing host to Pioneering dance pairs, the Grand Hall simmered with meetings scheduled by our Match & Meet service. Themed like a Viennese coffeehouse and fuelled by a bottomless supply Espressomobil coffee, it was the perfect milieu for connections to spark. (Trust us, we tried it ourselves!) In all, over 1,500 meetings took place there.
Another highlight of the second day was Lior Shoham’s Mastering the Art of Storytelling workshop. The Launch Pad stage was packed for this practical session, in which Shoham showed the clearest and simplest ways to tell people what your startup does. We’ll let the attendees keep that secret sauce to themselves…but here’s a little from Shoham on why they need a full bottle of the stuff.
“Whatever it is that you do, your mother needs to be able to tell your story,” said Shoham, who actually invited his mom on stage to prove the point. “Every person who cannot explain what you do is a lost ambassador.”
Speaking of moms, the 5 Hacks to Boost Productivity & Effectiveness session by Susan Davis on the Masterclass stage was also bursting to capacity. The mother of fellow speaker and Top 8 juror Colette Davis also kept it super-practical, giving our driven, busy attendees food for thought about how they manage their days. It’s fair to say not many of them realized just how much they were forgetting to breathe…
Back on the Arena Stage, it was onwards and upwards with the ‘technological journey through life’, where speakers tackled topics as thorny as eternal youth and artificial intelligence taking over the world.
The power of neurotech was also up for discussion, with Director of Cloud and Data Engineering and Data Protection Officer at EMOTIV Matthew Bosworth talking brain-computer interfaces, quantified mental states, and the virtuous cycle that occurs when everyone has access to technology and the resulting data is used for the good of all.
The main stage also welcomed Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili to a panel discussion on Africa’s potential to grow into a substantial technology hub. The former Vice President of the World Bank (Africa Region) was joined by Maryanne Akoth of TechBridge Invest and the University of Nairobi.
The room was packed as always for the Pioneers Challenge Top 8 final pitching at the end of the day (more on that here), and when the startups were done the audience was treated with one final look into the future whilst the jury deliberated. Here, Pioneers’ Reka Artner interviewed Wolfgang Fengler of the World Bank, who used data to question a few of the audience’s assumptions about poverty and population. He also showed the growing power of the middle class in mind-blowing terms: for the one person who emerges from poverty into the ‘vulnerable’ zone every second, five move up into the middle class in the same time frame.
But all that, folks, is merely a highlights reel of what went on across four stages of keynotes, insights, learnings and pitchings at Pioneers ’19. For the full experience, you simply had to be there!
Click here for all the details of how Storyball won the startup competition at Pioneers ’19!
Pioneers ’19 was supported by Google Cloud, Media Apparat, Red Bull, Raiffeisen Bank International, the Vienna Business Agency and PwC Austria.