Florian Gschwandtner

November 14, 2023

Success stories made in Austria

After the three-digit million takeover by Adidas and his exit from Runtastic, Florian Gschwandtner remains active. He was one of the investors in the TV format “2 Minutes, 2 Million”, holds over  30 company investments with 8eyes (together with the other three Runtastic founders), and has made another ten investments with his own investment company Foxyflo.

We were allowed to make money here, it was always  clear to me that I wanted to give something back and invest in start-ups in Austria.

The investments include companies such as the Klosterneuburg-based children’s bike manufacturer Woom, the influencer marketing platform Storyclash from Linz, and the loyalty start-up HelloAgain. Gschwandtner is currently writing another chapter in the Austrian success story  of Tractive, a company where he has been Co-founder und Investor since 2012. Part of the team surrounding the founders, Michael Hurnaus, Michael Tschernuth, Michael Lettner, and COO Wolfgang Reisinger, Gschwandtner took on an operational role in 2020, providing support for app development, and offering his experience to aid in the realm of internationalisation.

In 2021, Tractive received growth financing of $35 million from the American lead investor Guidepost Growth Equity. The start-up says it has developed into the world’s most popular provider of GPS tracking for pets. Covering 2,800 m², the new campus in Pasching (Upper Austria) has around 20 employees based in the US. According to Gschwandtner, “Tractive is well on its way to becoming even bigger than Runtastic – the next mega scale-up from Austria. That makes you feel proud.”

Gschwandtner has again been active as a founder since 2021. Together with Thomas Kleindessner, the former head of product at Runtastic, he launched Leaders21. Leaders21 provides a platform for employee- and executive development to provide them with the skills required in the new working world.

The future for companies lies in the training and development of their employees. You have to invest in people – that’s how loyalty and a good culture in the workplace is created.

In the past, a poster might have been enough to recruit employees, he says, “Today, that’s not going to happen. The demographic aspect alone, when a million people retire and only half the amount are coming on – that’s when we get into a bottleneck.”

Among the “21st Century Skills’’ defined by Leaders21 are mindfulness, agility, collaboration, and communication. “That’s where I would start with young people and invest a lot more. Communication is totally underrated, maybe because it sounds so trivial.” As an example, he cites email guidelines, which still aren’t the norm in many companies. “How do I structure the text, what do I highlight, what action items do I use.

Am I given a task, an expectation? Who do I include on CC?“. He says, with so much happening remotely today, there’s a lot that gets lost in the cracks.

There are more than 30 employees already on board at Leaders21, with a seven-figure revenue in 2022. Instead of offering one-off leadership workshops, the start-up focuses on continuous learning. With help of the “Skills Development Platform,” people can invest 30–45 minutes of their time on further training every week and receive individual support. “People always say that performing on stage is something I was born to do. That may be so, but I have also done communication training. After all, it’s enough to get one percent better each day.”


21st Century Skills Development Platform

Florian Gschwandtner

Co-Founder & Executive Chairman leaders21