Position: CXO at AustrianStartups, Co-founder of rePhil
Focus: Social Entrepreneurship
Recipe for success: Be persistent
“Entrepreneurs are people who develop projects and implement solutions to problems that concern their communities.”
Passionate social entrepreneur; actively seeking to help people who want to make an impact; CXO at AustrianStartups and Co-founder of a startup – this is Hannah Wundsam. What primarily attracted her in entrepreneurship is that “you can create impact by implementing your own ideas.” Her vision? The cultivation of an entrepreneurial mindset among the Austrian youth via the educational system.
Entrepreneurship and Authority
For Hannah it all starts by creating a certain mindset – entrepreneurship is all about being solution-driven and not problem focused. This is the Alpha and Omega of the entrepreneur’s worldview, to perceive problems as opportunities. “The current school system provides binary frames for handling problems: you can either be right or wrong, and the answer depends on the judgement of an authority.” What needs to be done is to help people see the opportunities and master the skills they need to realize solutions. This is why Hannah’s next chapter within AustrianStartups will focus on fostering entrepreneurship in schools.
Who is an entrepreneur?
She holds a very inclusive understanding towards entrepreneurship – “It is not about tech-ies who want to be the next billionaires.” Entrepreneurs for her, are not only the founders of companies, but also people who develop projects and implement solutions to problems that concern their communities.
Creating a legacy
During her exchange semester in Australia, Hannah realized that she can link her Business studies to her impact-driven ideas, “to combine the impact world with the profit world.” Coming back to Vienna determined, she decided to take a deep dive in the field – Impact Hub; student centers for innovation; innovation agencies. Along these experiences rePhil was born, a circular system for take-away packaging – “You may not be able to be 100% sustainable but you can make sure that your own footprint is a positive one and thus, leave a positive legacy behind you.”
Women and men entrepreneurs
What are the differences between men and women entrepreneurs? According to Hannah you cannot really make clear distinctions – it’s not an issue of nature but rather of nurture. Gender as a natural category has not much to offer here. On the other hand, from her experience it is easier to find men than women entrepreneurs to fill a stage panel. It comes back to education: Girls should be more educated on the opportunities out there because there truly exists a mentality that wants to foster women entrepreneurship and leadership. “For women with ideas, this is the right time to step up!”
Bring down existing obstacles!
“The ecosystem is still relatively small and people are very eager to support and work with each other.” Though, Hannah believes that there are still barriers that need to be brought down for further development – the general mindset that you need money to found a company; the complicated system of services and organizations that leave people unaware of the opportunities out there; the scarcity of Venture Capital in Austria.
The entrepreneurial toolkit
Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Here is what Hannah considers as essentials:
Learn how to present your ideas in front of a big crowd – nobody is good at pitching an idea from the very beginning but this is something you can definitely learn! Train yourself in motivating or inspiring others to believe in your idea.
Be persistent – talk a lot about your ideas to others but always take feedback with a pinch of salt. Find ways to believe in your projects when others are skeptical and follow-up when for whatever reason people don’t get back to your requests for a meeting: “You will be surprised how far this can get you – that’s how we got our first pilot at rePhil.”
Find a way to divide your time to different projects effectively. Though, don’t neglect to shut off and take breaks. Running outside or enjoying nature may be where you come up with your best ideas!
Bonus tip: “Have people around that give and do not drag energy from you.” This is especially important when building a team.
Always keep in mind…
Don’t be shy to follow up. “Go out and talk about your idea, every opportunity is a pitch.” Take feedback with caution; everybody will tell you their own opinion but you will decide which of these you will integrate and which not. People think that someone who is older in the field gets everything right but this is not always the case – in the end “everyone cooks with water.” It is you who need to decide how you want your product or service to look like: be brave to make the decisions. “Follow your gut!”
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!