Innsbruck is world-renowned as a ski and snowboard destination for many of the same reasons that makes this enchanting town one of the best places to study in Europe. It’s a perfect mix of urban lifestyle and alpine nature. By day, the urban lifestyle delivers endless opportunities to meet with study groups along the river or at the numerous alternative cafes in town. By night, the city presents a variety of dining and partying options that caters to every taste. The surrounding landscape is perfect for drawing inspiration or seeking a quick distraction from the stress of all-nighter study sessions and seemingly endless lectures. All of these factors combined are also creating an interesting startup scene in Innsbruck. Skinnovation, the first startup event on the slopes, combined the all of these factors and created a three day event that brought together over 200 aspiring entrepreneurs from Israel, Mexico, China, Honduras and countries throughout Europe.

Skinnovation was created last year to promote Innsbruck’s blooming startup scene while allowing visitors to experience all that the city has to offer. The event has grown from 40 participants in 2015, to over 200 in 2016, and they are expecting another increase for next year’s event.

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Skinnovation put the spotlight on many of the mountains huts, bars and restaurants, allowing participants to experience the charming environment at the mountain huts and lively nightlife scene in town.

Skinnovation 2016

Sara Matt-Leubner of Innsbruck University welcoming all the participants at Hoadlhaus

The workshops were held at huts on Axamer Lizum, Nordkette, and Schlick. The event kicked off with a quick introduction and welcome at the Hoadlhaus. I grabbed an espresso and Apple Strudel while there. Remarkably, this was my first Apple Strudel in Austria. This was also the site for one of the best workshops I attended, “The Art of Self Leadership & its importance for entrepreneurs”. The workshop was led by Madeleine Eppensteiner, a former competitive rock climber that’s represented Austria internationally at youth competitions and Bouldering World Cups. She’s also a Psychologist, combined with her athletic experience, she offers an insightful approach and strategies that can be applied to enhance performance in every day life, sports and business.

Skinnovation participants also enjoyed local Tyrolean food during lunch and dinner gatherings

Skinnovation participants also enjoyed local Tyrolean food during lunch and dinner gatherings

Lizum 1600 hosted “Tirol – the startup Hub in the alps?” by Marcus Hofer. Marcus is head of the “Investor Services and Funding Programs” department in the Standortagentur Tirol. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to aspiring entrepreneurs hoping to start a business in Tirol. His workshop created a great environment that encouraged interaction and brainstorming among participants. He pulled away from trying to claim local region as “Europe’s Silicone Valley”, which was a common statement made throughout the weekend. He claims that Tirol is the perfect place for young entrepreneurs to become inspired and network. At the end of this workshop, many participants exchanged contacts and even went for a beer to further discuss their budding business ideas.

Klaus Hammerstingl manages BMW’s global Sport Marketing Strategy. He presented “The Impact of Digitalization on Automotive Marketing – BMW Sport Marketing” at Cafe Liz. His workshop went beyond sports marketing, and also touched on how the digital revolution will change the way we drive (or not), and buy (or not) cars. He stated that he doesn’t believe his one year old son will ever have a license and that we will have self driving cars by 2050. He also believes that we will become less dependent on private vehicles as urban areas become more structured around the concept of pay-as-you-go cars. He also shed some light on new technologies and programs that BMW is developing based on shared data from mobile companies and GPS tracking – that was a bit creepy, to be honest.

Skinnovation 2016

Klaus Hammerstingl presenting at Cafe Liz

I was really looking forward to participating in “The ups and downs of being an entrepreneur”, presented by serial entrepreneur, Fabian Rauch. The schedule was really tight so I missed this, but I met him just as he was heading down the slope. Not knowing who he was, I jokingly challenged him to a race to the bottom. He replied by warning me that this is his home turf and I was sure to lose. I played it safe and invited him for a beer at Dohlen Nest. Fabian turned out to be a real chill dude. He gave a Skinnovation participant visiting from Vienna and I some good tips on projects where hoping to develop soon, and even have us a lift back to Innsbruck.

Dohlennest is popular little hut in the middle of the slopes at Axamer Lizum. It’s a popular place to stop for a drink and bask in the sun while taking a break from riding.

Dohlennest is popular little hut in the middle of the slopes at Axamer Lizum. It’s a popular place to stop for a drink and bask in the sun while taking a break from riding.

Later that evening lots of the participants gathered at Jimmy’s Bar to continue discussing their ideas.

Many workshops were also hosted in town at popular local restaurants, including StieglBräu, a popular place for traditional fare.

Stieglbräu in Innsbruck

Stieglbräu was one of the many restaurants featured during Skinnovation participants

“Lift Pitch” allowed aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to refine their business pitch on the lifts between runs at Nordkette.

Perfecting your a business pitch with a limited time on a ski lift.

Perfecting your a business pitch with a limited time on a ski lift.

What’s coolers than an igloo? Nothing… It was colder than a polar bear’s toenails in there. We gathered inside Cloud 9 Iglu bar to listen to entrepreneurs pitch their ideas in tech, health, tourism, and many other industries.

Skinnovation 2016

Skinnovation organizer walking into Cloud 9 Igloo Bar for a workshop

Skinnovation is guaranteed to continue growing in 2017. Contact the organizers to participate as an aspiring entrepreneur or to promote your startup on the Website or via E-mail to [email protected].