Vienna Business Agency

Need advice on how to get your business idea off the ground, or are you looking for assistance with financial planning? Perhaps you are new in town and need suggestions on where to open your office? The Vienna Business Agency is here to help. The organisation provides advice to local and international companies who want to establish themselves in the Austrian capital.

One of their projects is called Founders Lab: Creative Industries. Co-financed by the EU, it’s a free, part-time training programme for aspiring entrepreneurs. Over the course of two months, participants are offered expert coaching, invited to workshops on business development, sales and marketing, and encouraged to network with other entrepreneurs.

The programme has been a big success, helping many creative companies get off the ground.

For Reka Fesus, Daniel Benyi and Fanni Fazakas of OCG Immersive Studio – a start-up focused on developing technology to transform education, advance change in our societies and improve storytelling – joining the programme took their company to new heights.

OCG’s virtual reality flagship projects like ‘Jamie & Jamie’, a comedy about gender equality, and ‘Missing 10 Hours,’ an experience intended to encourage partygoers to offer help to a victim, have been shown at art festivals across Europe.

“The skills we mastered, such as marketing strategies, client communication and pricing, are still being practiced. The wide variety of experts and mentors we got to know opened new perspectives for us on how to grow further as a newly established company.”

Jamie & Jamie virtual reality project © OCG, 2020

Jamie & Jamie virtual reality project © OCG, 2020

The future of creativity

The coronavirus crisis has prompted many former Founders Lab participants to take a step back and reinvent their business – not just to stay afloat, but also to develop solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, and shape the post-pandemic future.

Thanks to EU support, these businesses are tackling climate change through sustainable fashion, reimagining our work and outdoor environments, and revolutionising how we do business. And they have even won prizes for their creativity and flexibility throughout the crisis, as part of the Business Agency’s Creatives for Vienna competition.

One dress a day

Elizaveta Fateeva © Tatyana Vlasova, 2020

Elizaveta Fateeva © Tatyana Vlasova, 2020

Elizaveta Fateeva is the founder of sustainable Viennese fashion label FATEEVA. Instead of presenting a seasonal clothing collection like other designers, she makes clothes from surplus fabrics sourced from the finest suppliers in Europe. The timing depends on the availability of materials.

The fashion industry suffered a shock due to the pandemic, as international production chains came to a standstill. However, according to Elizaveta, this may be helpful in the long run as otherwise the industry would have never reflected on what works and what doesn't.

Armed with the new knowledge and business skills she gained from Founders Lab, Elizaveta is developing her own vision for the future of sustainable fashion.

“You just have to dare to go new ways. I started making dresses for a friend during lockdown. After the first two, I had the idea to create a new dress every day out of all the leftovers. This is how ‘One Dress A Day’ was born. It is a counter to fast fashion that I want to develop further.”

A dress a day © Elizaveta Fateeva, 2020

A dress a day © Elizaveta Fateeva, 2020

Upgraded environment

The pandemic has forced many of us to work from home. Though some have found it tedious, others are hoping we don’t return to the pre-coronavirus rat race and are developing new ideas about work and life.

Sylvia Kostenzer © Kati Bruder, 2021

Sylvia Kostenzer © Kati Bruder, 2021

Reimagining working space could be a start. Sylvia Kostenzer, a former participant of Founders Lab, runs STUDIO D*LUXE, a business that works on improving public spaces.

She co-runs a project called PARXS, which creates ‘open offices’ in parking lanes and other public places, transforming greyish streets into recreation areas. There is seating to host group meetings, solar powered charging stations, and public wifi access. In addition, the open offices have shady canopies and seasonal plants to provide a healthier and more enjoyable working environment - unlike a traditional office building.

“Through the coronavirus pandemic, we have learned that it is possible to explore the various possibilities of public space, which has been used very monolithically until now.”

Parxs in Vienna © Karo Pernegger, 2020

Parxs in Vienna © Karo Pernegger, 2020

New business ideas

Lena Glaser © Vilma Pflaum, 2020

Lena Glaser © Vilma Pflaum, 2020

Lena Glaser is a researcher and expert on the future of work. With the business skills and advice offered through Founders Lab, she set up her own consultancy company. She now hosts lectures, offers learning experiences, and undertakes1-1 mentorship for businesses and research partnerships with international organisations. She has established a new online platform to share creative ideas.

The strong foundations built through the Founders Lab helped Lena weather the storm when coronavirus struck – and allowed her to assist others. The crisis prompted her to think more closely about business operations in the post-pandemic environment, and she started the NEW WORK LOVE newsletter. It offers companies and aspiring entrepreneurs tips and tricks for the future.

“In times of crisis, I think it is more important than ever to explore new ways of working, to communicate possibilities, and establish a culture of inclusion, openness and participation.”

New ways of working from Lena Glaser’s Basically Innovative © Apollonia Bitzan, 2020

New ways of working from Lena Glaser’s Basically Innovative © Apollonia Bitzan, 2020