Pioneers Festival – Inspiration not only for startups


June 20, 2016

One of the biggest startup events of Central European region has recently took place in Vienna. For the 5th time, the Hofburg Imperial Palace hosted this celebration of innovation, creativity and technology called Pioneers Festival.


Let´s sum up the festival days

  • Pioneers Festival is a technology conference in Vienna. It aims to create a meeting place for entrepreneurs, ideas, projects and investors.
  • It provides an opportunity for two days to search for inspiration on shows, presentations, pitches and networking.
  • This year´s festive atmosphere was boosted with a “High Five” greeting gesture on every occasion that represented the festival´s fifth anniversary.
  • 21 startups from Slovakia presented their projects this year. You could find Cloudo, Kickresume, OrderLord, Photoneo, Minty and Divano among others.
  • The festival was attended by more than 2500 visitors and 500 startups had the chance to pitch their projects.
  • Startups were organized in various ecosystems: business & productivity, financial services, lifestyle & entertainment, materials & manufacturing, mobility & transportation, energy & utilities and life sciences & agriculture.

In the following lines you will find a summary of the most interesting features of the festival: speakers and their topics, main highlights and last but not least a special invitation for this summer.


Motivation Boost: Speakers and topics!

Manoj Bhargava

One of the first speakers at the main stage was a philanthropist and founder of Living Essentials, Manoj Bhargava. He started his speech with his own experiences as a founder of a company and then continued by giving several advices for young entrepreneurs. To sum up, here are two key points:

  • First rule: You don’t need an exit strategy.
  • Stop chasing more work, chase the money.

One of the most important things is to focus on solving problems. For example, if you wanted to increase literacy in the third world countries, what would you do?

Would you:

  • Invest in teachers and teaching staff? Would you raise salaries so that you can attract more quality people for the job?
  • Invest in schools and reconstructions to provide more pleasant conditions for education?
  • Provide tablets and phones for children so they can get in touch with modern technology?

But …what happens after the sun sets down in these countries? Have you ever thought about that? You can teach people to focus on their education during the day but they will struggle to use the same time to secure food and water for themselves. When the sun sets down their time to learn is gone.

Therefore, you should provide them with electricity, so they can read when there is no sunlight – there is no need for thousands of new books. You should give them a chance to charge and use their tablets for more than just those few hours at school.

That provides a sustainable solution Manoj hopes for and supports with his Living Essentials LLC.

If you don’t understand human nature and people’s needs, you will never sell anything. – Manoj Bhargava

He also talked about moving from profit business through a non-profit up to zero-profit business. Manoj has more than a successful career to back him and pledged 99% of his wealth to philanthropic activities. He says that with everything we have today, the best thing we can do for the world is to help those who have less.

Conrad Egusa

Young entrepreneurs could have improved their PR skills thanks to Academy stage with Conrad Egusa. With practical demonstrations at the event he aimed to help young businesses in how to present their projects.

Conrad Egusa – Pioneers – Entrepreneurship and innovative technologies
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Conrad is an investor and the CEO of Publicize which tries to make communication between media and startups more effective saying that media are the first that need to “buy a story” of innovative startup projects.

His knowledge of  effective communication is backed by his past co-operations with The Financial Times, Bloomberg and Entrepreneur Magazine. Conrad himself is the owner of few publications as well as a guest editor at TechCrunch.

Part of the stage was reserved for a show which gave a chance to choose teams to pitch their projects to big media partners in front of an audience with Conrad giving them very valuable feedback. Many of his ideas can be found on a Publicize community blog.


Steli Efti

Steli is becoming an iconic speaker as he was invited for the 4th time to speak at the festival:

Steli Efti – Pioneers – Entrepreneurship and innovative technologies
Steli Efti had exciting talks at Pioneers Festival 2013 (“You Gotta Be A Hustler”) and 2014 (“Hustle Hard – Get your…

He is the CEO and co-founder of  – a company that develops a sales software for startups. As a professional salesman he helps thousands of projects in scaling, sales, and modeling their businesses.

This year he presented 7 deadly sins of demo videos talking about what is important in demo videos and, on the other hand, what makes a potential customer or investor to turn away. Right there, he helped a group of 5 startups to pitch their projects so they would get an attention. Thus they could improve their presentation skills and gather valuable contacts on stage.

Dirk Ahlborn & Bibop Gresta

The Slovak community was probably most interested in the visit of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies delegation. Dirk Ahborn and Bibop Gresta came here a year after their first visit and they presented an innovation that should get them closer to the realization of Bratislava – Vienna Hyperloop connection – a material called Vibranium brought on the market by the carbon-fibre component company C2i from Slovakia focusing mostly on the automotive industry.

Slovak government is the only one in the world at the moment that signed the Letter of Intent with Hyperloop Transporation Technologies to participate on the research for Bratislava-Vienna Hyperloop feasibility study. Both speakers also invited everybody to meet once more this summer at Bratislava airport on July 6th to experience Digital Innovation Challenge! More information here.




This year’s award for the best startup goes to …

Sure, the whole event had a higher purpose. For seven finalists it was a time of preparation for the pitch show, where they had a chance to receive funding of €500 000. The award by SpeedInvest was given to Pleo, fintech startup from Denmark. They will receive a funding for their financial software together with an opportunity to attend Red Bull High Performance Center Experience in California. Moreover, Harald Mahrer, a state secretary for Austrian Ministry of Economy offered his personal time to mentor the winners on how to boost their project. An award itself was presented by a Hollywood star Maggie Grace, known from Lost and Taken movie series.



Our startup picks


  • Provides an innovative way how to connect exercise with fun of virtual reality. Ever wanted to fly like a superhero? Now you can do that: play a game in VR and exercise all the muscles in your body.


  • A leading provider of robotic systems around. Kuka offers robotic solutions for an industrial production. Visitors could get a portrait drawn by a robotic arm directly at the Festival.


  • Aims to enhance efficiency of a human body with a help of biology and technology in order to allow us to become better versions of ourselves. They presented a quick implant of RFID NFC that serves as a modern security system on a volunteer. It may be used to open a car, doors or to store private information about credit cards, phone numbers and so on.


  • Is a tool that makes it possible to follow brain activity in daily situations. Thanks to analyses of the brain waves you can see a feedback on your smartphone or tablet on what your brain is focused on at the particular moment and thus improve your performance accordingly.

Guestblog by Patricia Zitnakova and Matus Zahradnik, students of Nexteria Leadership Academy and co-organizers of Night of Chances. Night of Chances is the biggest students conference which aims to connect attractive Slovak businesses with ambitious business and technology students. For more information, click here.

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