The Impact Hub – where Start Up dreams come true

As you know, we, the TEDxVienna team, are already planning this year’s next big conference and for the most part our meetings take place at a very special co-working venue: The Impact Hub. Not only do they have a café and a global network community – oh no, they offer you way more than that.

Impact Hub

Photo credit: Impact Hub

While you are working meticulously on new ideas and projects and have no clue where to go for a kick-start they jump right in and mentor you with different programs such as the Investment Ready program, the Scaling program or the Social Impact Award. Recently, we gave the Impact Hub a visit and had the amazing opportunity to speak to the founders of different Start Ups who had been able to work on their great and sustainable ideas with the help of those Impact Hub programs.

Have you ever heard of Authenticitys? No? You definitely will remember it now. Elena Rodríguez Blanco is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Authenticitys; an online platform connecting locals with visitors. We met her at the Impact Hub and had a chit chat about the Hub and her idea.

“A space where I can connect with people that are like-minded and have a shared vision of what the future could look like.“

Where did your idea start and what were your intentions with it?

Elena: I have always loved to travel and always had this calling to work in developing countries as I was born and grew up in one. Interestingly, a fact I didn’t know was that the tourism industry is an industry of one Trillion Euro per year while the official developing assistance of all countries summed up is only 100 million per year. So we thought why don’t we join tourism and social initiatives that are popping up? We started in Vietnam. My first social enterprise is called Bloom Microventures. We set up a tour in Vietnam and when that was working I came back to Europe, where I saw similar trends: growing tourism alongside social initiatives that were always lacking funds. That is how we thought about connecting both worlds, the amazing work locals were doing through 2-3 experiences for travellers. Authenticitys is the online platform for these social impact tours now operating in 8 cities around Europe, including Vienna.

What was particularly helpful about the services you received from the Hub?

Elena: What I really liked about those two programs I participated in was the fact that they were more on-demand help. I was able to participate in those programs without having to move to the city. The Investment Ready program is in Vienna, the Scaling program is in Madrid and I am based in Barcelona. I benefited a lot from the Hub’s concept, the global network, expertise and the connections.

Where are we going to see you in five years with this idea?

Elena: Hopefully doing and being THE social impact platform for experiences. We are planning learning journeys. That is why we are working with education, universities, older people and families. Basically, we hope that travel will be this force of social good and we no longer have to call it sustainable travel or responsible travel which are not very sexy terms. Instead whenever you travel  this is what you do because it is the ONLY thing you want to do and that is to participate in the city, be authentic, be local and do something good during your stay in a fun way involved with initiatives locally.

Further, we spoke to David from the amazing start up Flüchtlinge Willkommen. Are you currently in search of a new flatmate? Well at Flüchtlinge Willkommen you are going to be in good hands.

Where did your idea start and what were your intentions with it?

David: The increasing number of homeless refugees and the poor living conditions for asylum seekers, as well as for recognised refugees are the reasons we founded the project. Asylum seekers live in isolation from the Austrian society while staying in mass accommodation. Furthermore, refugee accommodation is mostly located in rural areas, where public transportation might be an issue. If refugees don’t have enough money for transport, it’s also difficult for them to have access to German classes. Recognised refugees are not supported by the Austrian state in the search for an apartment. In addition, they are only allowed to rent a flat if they can show a pay slip from their employer.

What was particularly helpful about the services you received from the Hub concerning SIA?

David: It definitely helped us a lot. In addition to the direct financial support this award brought us in touch with ERSTE Foundation and other important players that later invested in the project.

What are your next big steps with Flüchtlinge Willkommen?

David: The next big steps for Flüchtlinge Willkommen is to build up a better network in other Austrian cities like Graz, Linz, Innsbruck and Salzburg. In addition we want to keep going and to extend the marketing activities in these cities and in Vienna as well.

If you have a great idea, the Hub is going to be THE perfect supporter from the beginning of your baby steps all the way to a sustainable start up. And you will definitely meet great people there, like we did.

Photo credit: Cover image by Pixabay

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About Alba Sano

Alba is currently finishing her last semester in Business Administration. Besides that she likes to help scholarship holders at the Austrian Integration Fund as a volunteer. In her spare time she travels a lot and keeps herself busy with reading topics about health, inequality and how the world works.