Skinnovation combines two exciting things: skiing and startups. The first startup conference on skis takes its participants on the slopes and speakers in the ski huts. From the fourteenth to the sixteenth of March, the conference went into its fifth edition – and gathered three hundred startups in Innsbruck.
Innsbruck is the Austrian capital of sport
the ski lifts can be reached by public transport and ski resorts like the Axamer Lizum are perfect for a day trip. Leisure activities that many of the 132,000 inhabitants also use. Skiing is part of the lifestyle. So it is quite natural that at Skinnovation, the first startup conference on skis, lift tickets are included in the price. The dynamic movement on snow adds an enthusiastic mood that resonates with nightly networking events and pitch competitions.
“We believe that great ideas are not created indoors, but outside when you move. Skiing is the perfect sport because it combines speed, freedom and casual encounters in the lift”, says the team of Skinnovation.
Pitch at the chairlift
But also the time on the slopes is used: chairlift trips with investors give startups six minutes to present their innovation. The best pitch is repeated in front of the audience on the last evening. In the ski huts, there are inspiring startup stories by Entrepeneurs and discussion groups. The informal setting promotes exchanges and gives participants the opportunity to get to know the speakers in person and ask questions, says organizer Kathrin Treutinger.
Organization via app
The speakers included Walter Kreisel, an expert in the field of intelligent charging, energy and building solutions who talked about e-mobility and Tim Schmitz from the social media app Jodel, who talked about data-driven product development. Star guest was US ambassador Trevor D. Traina, who shared his experience as the founder of technology companies in San Francisco.
In order to organize the extensive conference, an app has been developed that informs about ongoing talks and activities and furthermore promotes the networking between the participants.
Investors from all over Europe
The participating startups came from alpine, sports and tourism technology, but also from areas such as e-mobility, health technologies and artificial intelligence. In addition to local investors from Innsbruck such as MAD, there were business angels and venture capital firms from all over Europe, including Primecrowd from Vienna, 01 Ventures from Amsterdam, Inven Capital from Prague and Wellington Partners from Munich.
The pitch winner
The winner of the chairlift pitch was the Tyrolean startup Monkee, whose mission was to enable people to live healthier lives. The team – Martin Granig, Christian Schneider and Jean-Yves Bitterlich – argues with statistics. These prove that personalized advertising and online shopping seduce people into impulse buying and uncontrolled consumption; less and less is saved and a quarter of Austrians have no financial cushion, for example, to have a broken washing machine repaired;
Especially young families are affected, say the founders, who are young fathers themselves. They complain that issues such as saving in the European Union lag behind development and are convinced that long-term savings are possible even with limited financial resources. If you save about one point five euros per week, you could finance the young drivers with the license at the age of seventeen. The motives seem to be saving on concrete goals – this promotes the anticipation and makes you proud of the performance, so the arguments.
With Monkee, the startup has developed an adaptive app that enables savings through a simple interface and a few clicks. A virtual financial coach is there to help with tips, reminders, and information to keep the motivation alive. As in real life, the personal environment is included and the godmother or grandparents have the opportunity to contribute to the bicycle.
It was founded in 2015 by Kathrin Treutinger at the Research and Teaching Unit Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the University of Innsbruck. She was a research assistant at that time and initiated the pilot event with the support of the Center for Academic Spin-Offs Tyrol (CAST). The aim was to make Innsbruck an attractive place for startups. Since 2016, the University of Innsbruck is the official organizer and runs the event together with the Young Economy / Economic Chamber of Tyrol.
Also published on Medium.