Previously On The Entrepreneurs Of Austria

In March 2020, we – a team of six – have brought to life the Entrepreneurs of Austria series in order to advocate for and foster the entrepreneurial spirit not only, but especially, within times of Crisis and uncertainty. We have portrayed founders from startups throughout various industries, artists, the self-employed, social entrepreneurs, scale-ups and agencies that have one thing in common: walk the stony path of entrepreneurship as an example for others to follow and change things that no one else dared to disrupt yet. They have shared their driving factors behind following their passions with us, their habits, their failures & successes, and have given valuable advice on what kind of skills and mindset has worked for them to achieve the seemingly impossible.

As Season 1 is coming to an end, there is still one episode that we haven’t shared with you. How do you choose your career path once you are done with school or university but your passion is something completely different than your academic degree? How do you master the perks of being self-employed for the first time?

And this is exactly the theme of our last portrait. So, let’s dive into it:


© Aelia & the Camera

Name: Tiago Liko

Owner of: Liko Films

Recipe for success: Be kind. Make a choice, take your passion seriously, and let your work speak for itself.

Mantra: Amor Fati. Love your fate.

“Certain things have to be in place for the perfect symbiosis to happen.”

Make A Choice.

After obtaining his Business Degree, Tiago Liko did his mandatory internship and soon realized that working for an incumbent wouldn’t fit his character. “I wanted a job because I thought that’s what I have to do after graduation. Clearly, the thought was not my own.” The lack of knowledge about his work’s ultimate purpose and of the possibility to build something up from scratch was the decisive factor of venturing out into the (yet) unknown. While contemplating that decision, things started to align for a certain path: Left Boy got wind of a music video Tiago had once made, which contained original transitions unique to the music scene. He spontaneously asked Tiago to accompany him documenting his Tour, 13 music festivals in one summer. That had been the inception of Tiago’s passion becoming a reality.

Timing Is Everything.

Tiago’s story begins around a decade ago, at the time when the DSLR [digital single lense reflex camera] movement was happening and YouTube was in growth phase. Tiago was part of that early movement, and put all his energy into editing, working the camera, and directing. Starting at an early age, there has always been a medium in between him and reality, captured on endless TB of footage. His videos had a unique touch to them, as he was experimenting a lot, luring the viewers’ minds in a cocoon of rhythm and music, highlighting the mood and personalities through sensible storytelling. “Filmmaking is about observing the world really carefully. Deconstructing a situation into its smallest parts; asking why things are the way they specifically are. And then, start piecing together your own stories.”

No Need For A Fancy Film School. 

All the pieces of Tiago’s international life experiences fell into place on its own after following that certain drive, that push towards a certain direction which made him go into complete auto-deduct and learn everything there is about film making. “All my life-energy went into watching & learning filmmaking – I learned everything online, from, and with people. I built my own (online) curriculum and created a learning process that fit my learning needs.” As the jobs kept on coming in, Tiago started building his client base. He took all his work, even the tiniest document’s design and invoices, extremely seriously, and understood his clients’ real needs.

Surrounded by the right circle of like-minded freelancers and artists, his videos picked up. “Certain situations, certain things have to be in place for the perfect symbiosis to happen. I picked up a camera by chance. I actually wanted to be a musician. Then I was editing music videos for musicians. Now, I am a filmmaker. An independent, 1 person company.”

The Perks Of Being Self-Employed.

Self-employment in Austria isn’t served on a silver platter, but the institutions are very welcoming and patient to explain the plain pallets of bureaucracy that are clashing with the colorful joys of self-employment. Tiago’s business studies finally came in handy for navigating through the Austrian self-employment system. While the US emphasizes the spirit of being a pioneer, simply create and make money, Austria is trying to scare one away with taxes and social security schemes. “My dream of becoming a filmmaker would only fail because of not understanding the Austrian system. I had been worried about doing something wrong, overseeing something and making a big mistake, so I asked a lot of questions and researched everything down to the core in order to be on the safe side.”

The Element of Surprise.

Sometimes life tries to tell you something through throwing obstacles at you. As Tiago was getting used to the rollercoaster of being self-employed and settling into “Austria’s comfort zone”, as many founders and Viennese personalities have described it, Austria’s laws on “Eigenbedarf” thought they’ll shake up things even more for him. He had to leave his apartment, and having nothing holding him back in Vienna, he decided to embrace that new state of freedom and buy a one-way ticket to Bali, see where life took him. “Not having an anchor holding me down, also psychologically, set me off on the right path. It was like a chain effect. Amor Fati, Love Your Fate. Nothing that isn’t positive can happen to me. It felt like the world was telling me something. Comfort is a privilege but also a hindrance from necessity. A lot of big moves that have a big effect on your life are partly made out of necessity, partly of lack of choice. It’s hard to understand your own needs and be impulsive about your life if there’s no push. Where do you jump to if there’s no edge?”

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe.

Bali was the perfect edge to jump off to. Tiago found himself in the right environment for his creativity to thrive. It was there, when the idea of being a digital nomad struck his thoughts, and where the symbiosis made another full circle of magic. “I feel super grateful for people who see my videos and want to get in touch in order to work with me.” Bali brought many positive surprises and set him off on another journey he had never imagined. While shooting for an Australian band, people approached him for an independent Netflix series We Speak Dance. His role as Lead Editor and Director of Photography brought him around the world behind the scenes of a dance community advocating for social change. Jumping into the unknown really paid off his career in the long-term.

Fast Forward >> Be kind. Always.

Being able to do what he loves and being recognized for his work, is all he could ask for. Despite his big achievements and lots of famous names in his résumé, Tiago remained kind and down-to-earth. He is the perfect example that studies don’t dictate your future, but your choice and willingness to pursue them do. “It’s all about the experience, really. Understand what is blocking you. Make a choice and go for it. Be oblivious to people and thoughts that hold you back.”

Adjusting your social life according to your spontaneous work schedule is another learning that one has to be ready for as well as experimenting with trial and error and iterating. “Have a rough mission statement and think about your core value proposition to other people. What exactly are you offering them?”

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. Learning and enjoying the process along the way is as important as having a healthy relationship with your finances and monitoring your thoughts and progress at the end of the day. Sometimes, it also helps to get a part-time job to cover your fixed costs and work on your passion until it takes off. “Don’t sell yourself short, take it extremely seriously, and know your worth. Let people see your value. Be empathetic and never lose your drive. At the end of the day, your work speaks for itself.”


– End of Season One. 


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