PORTRAIT OF A VIENNESE START-UP: WORKBEAT.AT

Article published on July 15, 2014
Article published on July 15, 2014

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Patrick Blaha and Lukas Gutwin­ski have known each other ever since they were 12 years old and have al­ways been poking around at ideas. Since the be­gin­ning of their stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Eco­nom­ics and Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion in Vi­enna, realisation has drawn particularly close to reality. Their job plat­form, Work­beat, has now been on­line since 31.​3.​2014.​

Patrick Blaha and Lukas Gutwin­ski have known each other ever since they were 12 years old and have al­ways been pok­ing around at ideas. Since the be­gin­ning of their stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Eco­nom­ics and Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion in Vi­enna, re­al­i­sa­tion has drawn particularly close to re­al­ity. Their job plat­form, Work­beat, has been on­line since 31.3.2014.

When did the idea first come to you?

We drew up the idea within the con­text of a course, about a year and a half ago. After then get­ting some great feed­back, we set up a few ap­point­ments with HR man­agers in the sum­mer to gain feed­back.

Weren't you wor­ried they would steal your idea?

Patrick: No, not re­ally.

Lukas: Au­tumn 2013 on­wards is when we re­ally got started.

Where does the self-con­fi­dence to found a busi­ness ac­tu­ally come from?

Patrick: That's a good ques­tion, but when the mar­ket - so in our case, the HR man­agers we con­sulted - says the prod­uct is well-re­ceived, then self-con­fi­dence comes with it au­to­mat­i­cally.

How did you take on sup­port for cre­at­ing the busi­ness? Did you apply for fund­ing, for ex­am­ple?

Patrick: At the be­gin­ning, we con­sciously de­cided against fund­ing. For the time being we wanted to work not for the fund­ing, but for the cus­tomers.

So we can as­sume you al­ready had some fi­nan­cial wig­gle room.

Lukas: Yes, that's right. We were ac­quainted with some pro­gram­mers as well as de­sign­ers, and the total to be fi­nanced wasn't too high. We were able to have a good start out of our sav­ings.

What do you think of the sup­port for found­ing a busi­ness? Is there anything miss­ing for you? What do you find es­pe­cially help­ful?

Lukas: The en­tre­pre­neur­ial ser­vice at the Aus­trian Eco­nomic Cham­ber has more or less stood by us with help and ad­vice. It's a free ser­vice and any­way, they tend to know their stuff bet­ter than we do our­selves. It has also helped that we have both al­ready worked at star­t-ups be­fore and also reg­u­larly at­tended start-up events, for ex­am­ple Sek­tor5. You build up a good net­work there. That's how we met our de­sign­ers, in fact.

So Vi­enna is to­tally set up to be a start-up place?

Ab­solutely, yeah! The best thing is you can net­work quickly, that helps a crazy amount.

How's it been going since the launch?

Lukas: Well, we didn't know what would hap­pen when we went on­line. In the weeks leading up to that we were just cor­rect­ing er­rors on the web­site, but on the launch it­self every­thing worked.

Then we made the Face­book page and it was crazy how it ex­ploded, every time we re­freshed it there were ten new likes. Of course we tried to get our whole university net­work on board, that also worked well and it felt re­ally good.

Have you given out any good­ies since the launch?

Haha, well, we've al­ready filled a few po­si­tions, but to be hon­est, good­ies haven't re­ally worked out so far. When we post a new job on Face­book, in no time at all peo­ple com­ment with some­one else's name un­der­neath. So they're rec­om­mend­ing the job, just not on our web­site, which is what's needed in order to get good­ies.

How is re­spon­si­bil­ity divided be­tween you?

Lukas: Patrick works in Work­beat sales and en­joys every­thing to do with sales.

Patrick: Yep, and Lukas does op­ti­mi­sa­tion and mar­ket­ing.

And com­pa­nies pay for ad­verts? How did you con­vince them to place them with you?

Patrick: Ex­actly, Work­beat is based on ad­ver­tis­ing. Com­pa­nies pay for their po­si­tions to be advertised. At the be­gin­ning, we mostly pre­sented Work­beat to com­pa­nies in per­son. In ad­di­tion, we sent out an info folder. That was a lot of work. Then as soon as we got a larger com­pany on board, it got much eas­ier, but at the be­gin­ning it was nowhere near as easy to win over the big ones. Many said it was in­ter­est­ing. And it helps enor­mously when a com­pany sees that an­other one in the same field is doing it.

At the mo­ment all the jobs in the busi­ness area are taken. Should it stay that way, or do you still want to build it up?

Right now we have good ac­cess to the field and it just makes sense to start there. It's also eas­ier for com­pa­nies when they know that we come from the busi­ness school in Vi­enna, and they could use peo­ple from there. We don't want to ex­pand right now.

What are your next goals?

Patrick: We're op­ti­mis­ing the site, mostly for search en­gines. We also want to build up the Face­book com­mu­nity and set up the newslet­ter to be more ef­fec­tive. So boost our range, ba­si­cally.

Which tips would you share with other en­tre­pre­neurs?

In prin­ci­ple, it's much eas­ier to get ap­point­ments with man­agers than you think, and we could have maybe got even more feed­back.

Leave your­self a bit of time to get to the bot­tom of prob­lems. And ask the man­agers what more specif­i­cally can be im­proved, in­stead of just being happy about their op­ti­mism. Also, ask them ex­actly what peo­ple they are look­ing for.

And they also say they are in­ter­ested straight­away, but the de­ci­sion they'll make later about that has to get through some bu­reau­cratic steps.

What has been your oddest ex­pe­ri­ence in the world of work so far?

Lukas: I used to work at Lo­mog­ra­phy, it was ac­tu­ally at the time when the com­pany was getting started. For the Christ­mas party they flew all the em­ploy­ees - even from Japan - into the Vi­enna head­quar­ters and drove every­one to Bratislava in busses. And then they paid for a hotel there, put on a great party with a live band, it was re­ally awe­some.

Patrick: In an ex­treme con­trast to being in a start-up, when I was a stu­dent I did an in­tern­ship with a large com­pany. Early on it was re­ally cushy, for a start we ate break­fast to­gether for an hour, etc. At the time the com­pany was being taken over by an­other en­ter­prise and em­ploy­ees sud­denly had to share desks, which led to a lot of re­sent­ment!

Lukas: One more story: Sek­tor5 or­gan­ised a trip to Bratislava to an­other co-work­ing space. It was so in­ter­est­ing that the peo­ple there - es­pe­cially the tech­ni­cians - were re­ally ex­cited when you told them you stud­ied eco­nom­ics. In Vi­enna it's more like eco­nom­ics is seen as un­ex­cit­ing, every­one does that any­way, so it's nice when you meet a pro­gram­mer be­cause you're less familiar with the field. It was the exact op­po­site there.

You can visit Work­beat at http://www.workbeat.at