ALUMNI INSIGHTS WITH PETER BUCHROITHNER, CEO OF SWELL
Swell makes decisions fast and fun. So that’s basically our one-liner. And a little bit longer pitch is we help people make better decisions by letting them ask their friends on a photo-based voting app.
WHAT PROBLEM DO YOU SOLVE?
My background is in fashion, and I figured out that a lot of people are indecisive when it comes to what to wear. So that was the first niche that we wanted to cover.
WHAT ARE YOUR LESSONS LEARNED?
The first lesson that we learned at the very beginning was that every startup that does technical stuff needs a CTO in the team. So we had an outsourced development at the start, and it was not a good idea. Second thing is: there are those little things that decide between success and failure. We were called “Dvel”, and when we moved to Los Angeles we realized that this name really sucks for an english-speaking market. Nobody can pronounce it. We had some really good feedback on the product, but people have really really had a hard time with the name.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I’m super proud of my team. I mean we are 15 people right now, and we’ve been like this since nine months ago. So we are growing really fast and other than that also about our user base. We are almost 1.5 million people all over the world to
love our products and they are very engaged. So that’s what makes me really proud.
WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON FROM YOUR STARTUP LIVE EXPERIENCE?
It showed me people like Stefan Kalteis as a mentor there. It showed me people like Florian from Runtastic who immediately became a role model with what they did out of Upper Austria. And it really helped me to think bigger and also gave me a really good starting point. So I found great people to work with at Startup Live.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A PITCH?
A good pitch is prepared like 200 times and then it’s great, right?. So, if you wake up at 3am in the morning you should still be able to pitch a product. And only if you can do that in a really really simple way, like decisions fast and fun, make two photos and share and get feedback, this is so easy. Everybody immediately understands it after five seconds. And the problem that most people have (and I had that as well): when you think about it and it sounds so simple and stupid, not that great and innovative. But it doesn’t have to be for people to understand what you do.
PITCHING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USA AND AUSTRIA?
You have even have to tell what you achieved in your life. So I was named Forbes’ 30 Under 30 here in Austria, which makes me really proud, but I would never really name that and tell anybody in Austria. But in L.A. it is my second sentence: “you know, by the way, I’ve been named Forbes’ 30 Under 30, it’s not a big deal, but you know I thought I would tell you”. Those are little things like VCs or investors in the US really look for: such signals like Standford, Forbes Under 30. So these are a couple of things that they really-really look into an entrepreneur, which people here don’t care too much about it.
YOUR CHRISTMAS WISHES?
Yes! Actually I wish for something that I most likely won’t get, which is snow in Austria. So white Christmas would be so amazing. Other than that I’m happy to see my family again and spend some time here in Austria. Go skiing and yeah enjoy a cold the weather.