Screw it let’s do it! – the first months of „Crowdfunding Austria“ aka CONDA

In my last blog article, I told you about the very first steps of Paul and me founding CONDA. So, that´s what happened next:

Somewhere in mid of September 2012 we started to work on our new baby CONDA, which at this point consisted of:

  • Two highly motivated (more or less young) guys with the aim to make a change.
  • A very basic idea of our future company.
  • And a sh** load of things to do.

As previously mentioned, Paul had already done some research and basic work and he managed to on-board his former boss at TPA Horwath, Roland Reisch, who committed to support us with his knowledge and network during our first steps.

So where to start?
The first step was to fine-tune our concept of “Crowdfunding Austria”, so we started to talk to people about our idea and did research about the market-, competitor- and legal situation in Austria.

What was the conclusion? Well, there were a few:

  1. We are going to focus on crowdinvesting and not on Crowdfunding (like Kickstarter or Indiegogo do) because it is more complex, bound to local markets and almost a blue ocean in Europe.
  2. Good idea, BUT this will not work in Austria. Austrians won’t invest in startups through a web-platform (my favourite feedback within the first year, which we heard a thousand times :-P).
  3. There is a guy called Heini Staudinger, he is running a company called GEA and he tried to do crowdinvesting. It is legally not possible in Austria and authorities are trying to shut him down.

What would you do in such a situation?
Right, show them that they are wrong and find solutions! Therefore, we re-modelled our concept and defined what we need to start crowdinvesting in Austria:

  • A name for the company and setting-up a company.
  • Basic funding (beside our own money) and more supporters.
  • A web platform for handling the investments.
  • Contracts for doing crowdinvesting.
  • A first project to start with.
  • Public attention to acquire the first investors.

Maybe I should add at this point a few more insights about my personal situation at this time. While forming CONDA, I was still working for a consultancy company and was doing my master degree in executive management. Paul was still working at TPA Horwath and at the TU Wien. So most of the mentioned stuff above has happened on evenings resp. nights, weekends and somewhere in between.

We talked and talked…
In the following weeks and month, we talked to more and more people about “Crowdfunding Austria” (my personal opinion about hiding ideas: don’t do it! Get out and try to get as much feedback as possible.). It was while talking to people, that we found more and more supporters and around October / November we had managed to on-board:

  • Roland Reisch and Hans Zavesky, who provided us with first funding, a lot of support and an insane network (aka our first business angels).
  • Fabian and Marcus, friends of mine who are running 3C-Design, a marketing agency. Both helped us creating a brand, getting public attention and setting-up a corporate identity.
  • Thomas Grechenig and his company RISE, who developed our web platform and helped us with the IT-stuff.
  • Robert Bachner, partner at Schönherr Lawyers, who helped us creating the contracts for crowdinvesting and prepared us for the future challenges with legal authorities.

Crowdinvesting Help and Support

We managed to conquer the first challenges, or at least had we found people to help us conquering them. And then… we needed to give the baby a name, which was hard work. At this point, we only knew what we did not want: no describing brand name, no German name, nothing to startupish (because we are dealing with money).

Therefore, we started brainstorming together with Fabian, but the first session ended with no result and lot of frustration. For the second try we took more time, everybody should come prepared with some ideas and we did it in the afternoon / evening. We sat down with the notebooks, discussed our ideas, started drinking (yes it did increases our creativity – I learned that from Fabian). At the end, we found ourselves on a website for translating German-to-Latin and this word:

gründen (to found smth.) – condere

With this as basis, some simplification and after checking domains, we finally found our company name: CONDA Crowdinvesting.

Big goal achieved, the baby has a name! More challenges to come.
The biggest of all challenges at this time was to start with the platform within the first quarter of 2013. However, that is another story any you will read about it in my next article.

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