Some 200 guests gathered Thursday (January 10, 2019) at the opening of the Finhaven co-working space in HafenCity to see how seven start-ups would master the Elevator Pitch and the Austin Stress Test to secure one of three tickets to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas. Initiated by the private initiative Hamburg Startups and founded by Sanja Stankovic and Sina Gritzuhn, the platform plays a key role in promoting Hamburg’s start-up scene at SXSW. The festival is a hotspot for start-ups, creative people and media players. The fledgling companies Daily Dress, Localyze and Tomorrow won over the audience and secured a ticket each to SXSW including flight and accommodation.
60-second pitch and Austin stress test
Initially, the warm-up focused on the 2018 festival, in which the Hamburg-based start-ups Nordantech and Qualitize took part. Founders taking part in the Elevator Pitch had 60 seconds to explain their business models and to win over the audience. Afterwards, each candidate had to face the “Austin Stress Test” which plunged the contestants into tricky situations. Those who showed the greatest quick-wittedness not only attracted the audience’s favour, but also seemed to be prepared for SXSW. The pitch event was held in English to simulate the competition in Austin as realistically as possible. The large audience finally opted on start-ups to represent the Hamburg scene in Austin. The pitch event had been open to applications from start-ups across all sectors, who are headquartered in Hamburg, have a marketable product and can show initial success and are ready for the U.S. market.
Recruiting software, virtual wardrobe and sustainable banking
The Localyze start-up secured the first ticket in a neck-and-neck race. Franziska Löwe, Hanna Asmussen and Lisa Dahlke wish to optimize the recruiting process for international employees and have developed an information service that guides the user from visa to accommodation right up to new hobbies. Daily Dress also secured a ticket to SXSW. Jennifer Schäfer won over the audiecne with her virtual wardrobe including a shopping function, which is only available for women so far. Then, Inas Nureldin, Michael Schweikart and Jakob Berndt also secured a ticket for their fintech Tomorrow start-up, which combines mobile banking with sustainability. The start-up uses customers’ deposits to support ecological agriculture and renewable energies.
The four other finalists included the Camooni, Metronus, Nect and React start-ups. The Hamburg-based start-ups heading to SXSW are supported by Hamburg Invest Startup Unit, Deutsche Bank, Beiersdorf, Sutor Bank, EY and the remote agency Vast Forward.