Portrait Name: Stefanie Bramböck
Current Position: CEO of discovering hands Austria
Focused on: Social Entrepreneurship in Healthcare
Recipe for Success: Think fast on your feet, improvise and adapt quickly
“It’s amazing to be an entrepreneur. Of course there are difficulties, but for me the positive aspects outweigh the negative. I did not have a planned way into entrepreneurship, it just happened at the right time. I would definitely recommend to everyone to start their own business once in their life because it’s a new aspect of life. You get to know a new perspective, you learn. Everyone should start a little idea.”
Stefanie Bramböck joined discovering hands Austria, a social impact company, in January. “I did not plan my way into entrepreneurship, it just happened at the right time.” Having worked in PR, marketing, and agencies before, the arrival of her son changed everything for her, as she was looking for more flexibility and a way to create greater impact.
discovering hands – A Win-win Situation
When she heard about discovering hands, “I knew exactly that this is what I wanted to do now, that this is the right time for me to go into social business and to become an entrepreneur.” discovering hands, originally founded by Frank Hoffmann from Germany, is a social business active in the early detection of breast cancer. Breast cancer affects one of eight women, and discovering hands trains blind and visually impaired women as Medical Tactile Examiners (MTE), as their elevated sense of touch helps discovering breast tumours early. discovering hands also trains women on how to conduct the monthly self examination at home, which can further help with the early detection of breast cancer.
Changing Conditions and Stefanie’s Recipe for Success
A couple of months into her role as CEO, the impact of the Coronavirus changed conditions for discovering hands Austria massively: As close contact and touch was required for the breast cancer examinations, the distancing rules were impossible to follow for discovering hands, and all in-person courses for self-examinations were suddenly cancelled. Also, the discussions with the Ministry of Health to approve Medical Tactile Examiners (MTEs) as a recognized profession were put on hold, as the Ministry of Health had to fully focus on the new evolving situation with the Coronavirus.
Stefanie and her team decided to start a crowdfunding campaign, which was successful: “I’m a fan of crowdfunding for investment. In addition to the financial support, we gained increased attention and new cooperation partners with our campaign, such as the “Hilfsgemeinschaft der Blinden und Sehschwachen Österreichs.” The past couple of months have taught Stefanie a lot about leadership: “Leadership for me has two aspects – you have to set the path as a leader, come up with the plan on how we can reach our goals. But you also have to inspire people, bringing them along on the journey, and convincing them that the path we’ve chosen is the right one.“
The Power of Improvisation
One aspect that prepared Stefanie for entrepreneurship was jazz: “I’m a jazz singer, and especially in jazz music you have to improvise. You play together with a lot of different people, and you create something new together that has never existed before”, explains Stefanie. “At the end, it comes down to the ability and the skill to listen. You have to adapt yourself, work with the music the other musicians create in the moment, do something with it and develop it.” Improvisation, which is common in jazz, can help in business, especially when structures are not fully clear yet, as in any startup, and when you have to adapt fast to changing conditions.
She also draws parallels to jazz when it comes to collaboration: Musicians are used to playing together even though they may have never met before, they can be old or young, from different backgrounds and skill levels. With only a set of rules that everybody is familiar with and a goal in mind, something new is created. This skill to think fast on their feet, adapt and improvise helps her and other musicians in their daily lives in business.
The Ups and Downs of Entrepreneurship
When asked about what Stefanie likes most about entrepreneurship, she mentions the freedom “to find my own ways and solutions, to find my style or way of doing things.” Together with her team, she finds new approaches to best reach their goals, and has the flexibility to work from either her home or the office. Stefanie also enjoys getting to know new people and growing her network, although this has been more difficult in the past months due to Corona.
Stefanie also tells us about facets of entrepreneurship that have been difficult for her. For instance, paperwork and bureaucracy – “I’m not used to it, because as an employee, you don’t have to do it.” Also, being the CEO can sometimes feel very lonely, as there’s not always a sparring partner around: “I have to take my decisions on my own sometimes, and I would love to talk more about the topics and the challenges with others, but as an entrepreneur, especially in a small enterprise, sometimes you’re very alone in your thinking.”
Although Stefanie didn’t plan her journey into entrepreneurship, she “would definitely recommend to everyone to start their own business once in their life because it’s a new aspect of life. You get to know a new perspective, you learn. Everyone should start a little idea.”
And especially when conditions change rapidly, we should improvise more. Just like in Jazz.
Next week: Christiane Holzinger, Junge Wirtschaft Österreich
In our weekly interview series, we will be featuring various inspirational entrepreneurs of the Austrian startup scene. Each Monday, you can expect useful insights into their lives and practical tips that you can follow in order to walk your entrepreneurial path. Like, share, comment – and feel free to reach out to us. Suggestions, ideas, remarks are all welcome – let’s shape the ecosystem together!