Things to Know About Building a Startup in Linz
KOÖ is the Chamber of Commerce of Upper Austria. Organized by regions, the Upper Austria office is based in Linz. WKOÖ provides practical services such as business licensing,consulting, networking events and other membership programs. It has experts to help companies with internationalization, legal advice and even financing. It also operates a Junior Chamber for young entrepreneurs and industry-specific Chambers, such as guilds.
Moving to a new city always has its challenges, but starting your own business in a new city can be even more daunting. Aside from exploring new neighborhoods, making friends and figuring out new haunts, you also need to make business connections, find customers and employees and navigate the local business eco/legal system. That’s where chambers of commerce come in, connecting you with all the resources and information you need to start a new business or find a potential partner, as well as getting you set up and incorporated legally. Alexander Stockinger is a startup consultant for the WKOÖ, Upper Austrian’s chamber of commerce. With over twenty years of experience, he is the link between the WKOÖ and the startups in Upper Austria. Lukas Krainz is himself a startup founder, and is currently personally involved in three others. He is part of the Junge Wirtschaft, the Youth Chamber of Commerce, which offers free membership, networking and events for young founders and first time startups, bringing his experience to bear on his young peers.
The city has a lot to offer the prospective founder. According to Lukas, “Linz has a great combination of being a small to medium sized city, with some action and a prospering startup scene, but it’s not so big that you’ll get lost.” Linz is the hub for the region of Upper Austria, and so it’s where regional startups will find the most resources and an “amazing ecosystem.” For Alexander, one of the big benefits of entrepreneurship in Linz is that, as a regional hub, “startups benefit from a potent mix of universities, industry, tech and the arts, offering founders a pool of networking resources and talent.”
Traditionally, Upper Austria has been a center for the arts and heavy industries, hence its nickname “steel town”. But, “Linz has changed a lot in the past twenty years,” says Alexander. “It’s now a much more pleasant place, and there’s been a fire ignited by several successful startups, such as Runtastic which was bought by Adidas. The Tabakfabrik and the whole harbor area have become an entrepreneurship hotspot, not only for the region, but also for internationals.”
Founding a startup is always hard, but Linz gives you all the resources and support needed
Today, Lukas mentions, “Linz is focused more on software and engineering,” but that there is a consistent mixing of these specializations. For example, with so much established industry in the area, “Linz is a great entry point for B2B,” so tech startups working on sensors, informatics, hardware or software easily find willing partners and customers. He also adds that “lots of startups that were founded because of local universities ended up staying here for the community and customers. These early players and successes have changed politics, bringing more resources and better community for today’s entrepreneurs.”
Another attractive benefit is that Linz is both livable and affordable. With a walkable downtown and reasonable property prices, Linz has become an attractive alternative to cities like Vienna and Munich. It’s an ideal place for both younger entrepreneurs or those with families.
Alexander recommends looking for an apartment in the center of the city or in the old town near the Danube. The harbor area, the center of startup culture, is all within ten minutes and reasonably priced. For families, the outskirts offer more spacious options and easy connections to nature. Lukas says, “Linz is a pretty international city, a bit of a hidden gem. It’s not too crowded or touristic, but focused on living and working.” Situated forty-five minutes from Bavaria and forty-five minutes from the Czech border, it’s poised to be a center for trade and innovation in central Europe.
With its balance of affordability, liveability and entrepreneurial culture, Linz is perfectly poised to become a leading city in the central-european region.
Culturally, the city is a big community for creatives and artists. Linz is even the hip hop center of Austria, and is known as a city with a strong alternative underground. The city always strives to bring business and arts together. Both, Alexander and Lukas recommend founders check out Tabakfabrik, a former cigarette factory and the heart of the startup scene, where incubators like tech2b and nonprofits like hub,ert or Grand Garage, a top level maker’s space, can assist you with everything from consulting to funding to fabricating.
Alexander highlights the fact that even though Linz might not be the biggest town, it punches well above its weight in terms of the resources it offers. As a city for startups, it offers founders “a cooperative and family-like community of entrepreneurs.” For Lukas, coming from his own background as a founder, he says that even though “founding a startup is always hard, Linz gives you all the resources and support needed.” The rest is up to you.
Most important tips for startups:
- Find your community. There are lots of communities and groups both for work and for play. Culturally, Linz is an alternative city with a rich music scene and a big community for creatives and art. The city is committed to bringing all these communities together.
- Livability and lifestyle. When it comes to the best neighborhoods in Linz for founders looking for physical space, both Alexander and Lukas recommend Old Town, Urfahr and Old Urfahr as cool up-and-coming areas. They suggest looking for an apartment in the center or in the old town near the Danube. The harbor area and Tabakfabrik, the center of startup culture, is all within ten minutes and the area is not too expensive. Families will find more spacious apartments further from the center.
- Europe in minutes.Forty-five minutes from Bavaria or the Czech Republic, and just five hours away from the Italian beaches, Linz is a great place to be for international travel and business.
Main Photo by: Antje Wolm