Group 581

Recap of Launchpad Austria

Launchpad Austria was a passionate exchange about how hardware companies can accelerate innovation and drive growth

We were thrilled to be joined by innovative founders, successful entrepreneurs, and strong founder supporters from 16 countries at Launchpad Austria on April 13th

Headlined with a discussion around “How hardware companies can accelerate innovation and bring growth to Austria post-corona”, our speakers discussed mistakes, learnings, challenges and opportunities in the post-Corona era. We heard from both established global companies and startups who shared their take on this universal topic, with a specific focus on Austria.

HENN’s CEO Talks Transformation

Martin Ohneberg, CEO of HENN kicked things off by reporting on his company’s transformation from primarily servicing the automotive sector to a more broadly based product range: “At HENN, we don’t just want to stay only in the automotive sector in the future, we want to become a leader in smart couplings – in different materials, together with the right process. This is our USP. In order to be successful in the future, we must remain successful in the automotive sector, but also in other areas,” said Ohneberg. However, such a change does not happen by itself, In addition to the right team with innovative minds, the partners are also crucial: “We also work with new partners – KREATIZE, for example, is flexible, especially in the prototyping area. We have to be open to such new solutions, because they act quickly and in line with the times. You have to be faster than the others. We can’t wait too long if we want to remain successful in the future.“

You can watch the whole kick-off again here:  

Challenges & Opportunities in Hardware Product Development

“Software is different from hardware: Being fast in hardware means months of development,”

said Philipp Sonnleitner,   Co-founder & CIO of mikme. Speed, new approaches, and agility—that’s what startups stand for. But founding a hardware startup does not always go smoothly and there are often many constraints. We asked two successful founders to tell us about their learnings, mistakes, challenges, and opportunities: Nils Berger, CEO and Owner of Viewpointsystem and Philipp Sonnleitner, Co-founder & CIO of mikme.

Embrace failure

Nils Berger’s advice: “Embrace failure”.

What exactly does this mean for him and his team? 

Don’t just think about it, just do it. Even if you get a bloody nose – without trying, it won’t work. Without mistakes, you won’t get anywhere. Innovation means: Mistakes are always an option – keep it close and make it your friend.” 

And although this is always easier said than done, Nils Berger makes it clear that he wouldn’t get far on his own either: The right people and good communication are important! “Always think about, how you talk to people and how do you hold them? You can’t avoid legacy thinking even in a start-up area. People bring their own legacy, because everyone has a different background. Take the good from this and try to transform the not-so-good through communication with a positive culture with a purpose.”

Nils Berger’s Expertstalk with our CCO Thomas Hoffmeister is available here:

Hardware is hard

Now that you have the right team around you, have you instilled a culture and a sense of purpose? Are ready to get started? It’s important to note that hardware developers face  some challenges, but also have many unique opportunities. With 8 years of experience in founding hardware startups, Philipp Sonnleitner had a lot to share regarding this matter.

This already begins during development: Software is different from hardware – being fast in hardware means months of developments. We launched our new product, mikme pocket, in 9 months – that’s relatively fast”,  said Sonnleitner. “However, the positive thing about hardware development is you can touch the product. And People still love to touch things.” 

Since it is a well-known fact that you learn the most from your mistakes, we asked Philipp about his biggest mistake since founding his company: “When we did our first mobile product, battery charging was the biggest mistake we made: We underestimated that process. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that until we produced our first margin. It was tough and costly. Take it one step at a time. We were so deep in product, quality, in sound, etc. But we didn’t pay enough attention to the battery. “

Philipp was also interviewed by Thomas – watch the whole session here:

Exchange and networking with supporters and founders

The founding of a hardware startup is thus more time-consuming, more strenuous and in many cases more cost-intensive than for virtual software products. But there are many supporters who are ready to stand up for young, innovative founders and ideas. Some of Austria’s most successful and active hardware supporters joined our panel to discuss the possibilities and limitations of different support models, as well as to share their views on the current business climate together with Philipp Sonnleitner. The very special closing of our event was our “beers with peers session”, in which very interesting and lively discussions took place. 

Click here for the full panel discussion:

We’re not done yet! There are more Launchpads to come this year.

The lively exchange during the event and the feedback we received after, proved to us yet again that there is a real demand for such events. We would like to continue to network with  innovators and thought leaders in the manufacturing sector! Stay tuned for more details on our next event in the future!

If you too are interested in the manufacturing of tomorrow, we recommend you see the presentation by our CEO Simon Tüchelmann:


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