Ever since I met these guys, they have been all around. Using the enthusiasm and confidence of building one of the largest communities for streetview photographers in the world, founded by David Prasser, the main person behind StartUs, they launched back in 2014 with the vision of creating a ‘one stop-shop’ for entrepreneurs and all ecosystem participants, all across Europe.
I have been planning to make this interview happen for a while, finally I had the chance to sit down with Iryna Bursuk, the operative manager of StartUs.
What is your personal story? Where do you come from?
Originally I come from Ukraine, I grew up in a small city and finished the last year of highschool in the USA, participating a Future Leaders Exchange Program. When I completed my bachelor degree in economics in Ukraine, I really wanted to travel and explore other countries, so I started learning German and worked with companies like British Council and L’Oreal, then moved to Vienna in 2013 for my Masters. First I worked with AIESEC, then I met David.
What makes you different from your competitors? Who are your competitors at all?
Before starting StartUs, David had been into street-view photography, building one of the biggest communities for such photographers: www.streetviewphotography.net. Being an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a networking attitude, he realized that he “shaked 3.000 hands” in his search for a technical co-founder which showed how disconnected the local entrepreneurial ecosystems are, that is why he wanted to create a ‘one stop-shop’ for all ecosystem participants.
We have competitors for parts of our business: as a jobportal, there are many of them like Monster, but they rather focus on different countries separately and the whole scope of the job-market, on European level there are not so many of them, especially if we highlight the special startup focus. On networking there are sites like LinkedIn or AngelList. But in the end they can also cooperate with us 🙂
How would you define StartUs?
StartUs is the biggest startup and innovation network in Europe, connecting the European startup community.
What were the main stumbling blocks, especially during the first year, and what would you do differently from today’s perspective?
One of the challenges was to find the right business model, in the beginning we did it differently from now, as we have certainly learnt a lot in the last 2 years. Team building has been very important from day1, that was something we did not do very successfully in the beginning.
We do 3 things:
- HR solutions / job-board
- StartUs promote, working with ecosystem organizations
- Innovation – we help many type of companies with the power of our huge community
What is the background of the founders?
I have already mentioned David and his history, it’s also important to talk about Klaus Furtmüller, who is the technical co-founder and CTO of StartUs, while also being the CEO of epiqo GmbH, a service that enables anyone to have a unique job board.
How does the team look like? What is the size and the setup?
Currently the team consists of 9 members and we also work closely with Klaus’ other company, bringing mainly the technical knowledge.
Have your raised money? How does your financial background look like?
We did not want to raise money, StartUs bootstrapped with the investment of David and Klaus + 2 private angel investors.
Where are you going? What is your goal / long-term vision?
There are still a few obstacles in the CEE region, like talent fragmentation that we try to help my fostering mobility all through Europe. In the Eastern part of the continent tech talents are easier to find, and we also see accelerators growing 400% in the last few years, so the angel investor network in growing, and also corporates show more and more interest in startup communities so they also bring money to the system.
We have been working hard on braking down these obstacles, our vision: one community and full knowledge of opportunities. Our goal is an integrated European startup community in 5 years from now, with more mobilized capital and workforce. Our next goal to achieve: in 2 years 1 million active registered users who pursue our vision.