Sep
09

Startups made in Austria XIII – Mondschein Events shine a new light on Vienna’s event scene

Vienna on Sep 9, 2015
Vienna's first night bazar © Philipp Lipiarski / www.goodlifecrew.at

In the last 12 months Austria’s capital saw the rise of a new sort of events. Thanks to Roman Groiss and Gabor Hillinger we can now enjoy Vienna’s first night bazar, the Mondscheinbazar, the Street Kitchen Food Market and the Street Food Cinema. With their startup Mondschein Events the two childhood friends made their passion their profession.

Our September startup: Mondschein Events

How did it start?

Roman discovered his entrepreneurial spirit quite early. At the age of 16 he started an online shop for Punk fashion and together with Gabor Hillinger he initiated the event „Rolling STP“ in their hometown St. Pölten in Lower Austria. The concert featured various punk rock bands, a comic artist exhibited his work and the latest punk fashion was presented during a fashion show. Roman: „I’ve always enjoyed bringing people together, giving artists the chance to present themselves and creating an experience for the visitors.“

Childhood friends and business partners: Gabor Hillinger and Roman Groiss, Photo © Philipp Lipiarski, goodlifecrew

Childhood friends and business partners: Gabor Hillinger and Roman Groiss, Photo © Philipp Lipiarski, goodlifecrew

After his apprenticeship in a travel agency, studying tourism at the University of Applied Sciences in Vienna and visiting countless events himself, Roman moved to Munich during his master studies. This is where he discovered the night market „Nachtkonsum“, which is being held in eight German cities. Back in Vienna, Roman adapted the concept, extended the portfolio of exhibitors by including young artists, invited a band to entertain the visitors and organised the first „Mondscheinbazar“ – Vienna’s first fleamarket at night – last year in October. Instead of the expected 500-800 visitors, a crowd of 2500 vintage lovers made the event a huge success. Inquiries about the second edition of the event started coming in on the same evening. Since then the market opened its doors on a bimonthly basis.

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Pioneers in the Viennese Street Food scene

A big fan of street food from all over the world himself, Roman saw the many requests of gastronomers to be part of his event as a chance to establish the Street Kitchen Food Market. „We thought that organizing a street food market would be similar to organizing our night bazar. It was only during the preparations that we learned that the complexity and effort required was about 10x as high.“, Roman remembers. During the two-day happening the Street Kitchen Food Market drew over 12.000 people into the halls of Vienna’s former cattle market.

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Vienna’s (or actually Austria’s) street food scene is still young and growing at a very quick rate. Roman’s and Gabor’s Street Kitchen Food Market was the first event of this kind in Vienna. Roman is happy to co-create the street food scene: “For some of the food trucks it was the first time ever to sell their creations! We are learning from each other at every event and are constantly in touch with the food artists to exchange advice and ideas.”

The customer is king

It is not easy at all to predict, how many people will visit your event. Roman remembers: “The number of people who said they would be attending our first night bazar on Facebook was a good approximation to the real number of visitors. But after our last night bazar, when 12.000 virtual attendees became 2.500 real-life visitors, we knew that we could not really rely on this information.” This insecurity is a big challenge for the team at each of their events.  “We depend on a certain number of visitors. The exhibitor’s fee alone does not cover the costs of the events.”

For the team it is essential to keep the visitors entertained and offer something new on a regular basis. “When organizing events you constantly have to reinvent yourself.”, knows Roman. This need resulted in another one of the team’s successful ideas. Every Sunday in August the Streetfood Cinema combined an afternoon of delicious street food provided by 30 street food artists with an interesting movie, shown under the open sky. And also the classic night bazar “Mondscheinbazar” was enriched with a Burlesque dance performance to offer a new highlight to the guests. Roman smiles secretively: “My head is full of new ideas for great events that guarantee awesome visitor experiences!”

The Streetfood Cinema at the football stadium „Hohe Warte“, Photo © Philipp Lipiarski, goodlifecrew

The Streetfood Cinema at the football stadium „Hohe Warte“, Photo © Philipp Lipiarski, goodlifecrew

Bureaucracy, oh Bureaucracy

Finding one’s way through the jungle of Austrian bureaucracy is tedious and requires patience. Roman shakes his head when thinking about the process: „It took quite a while until the authorities made up their mind if our night bazar as well as the Street Kitchen Food Market should be considered events or markets under Austrian regulations. The decision impacted which authority we had to involve. Only when we decided to book a band they agreed that we were actually organizing an event and that we could now officially register it with the Viennese event authority.”

Potential for fast growth not only in startups dealing with technology

The team organized the first Mondscheinbazar with a budget of 2.500 Euros roughly a year ago. Their latest budgets read 10x this figure. Roman admits: “We learned the importance of staying humble.” The May edition of the Mondscheinbazar took place over two days in a much larger location. “It was simply too big. It was not as cozy as it should have been, the atmosphere of the Mondscheinbazar was totally lost.” The night bazar is returning to its original location in the 10th district in October.

What’s next?

Roman and Gabor have some milestones coming up for the next year. Hiring their first employee will give them support with finding sponsors. “We want to achieve having enough sponsors to finance our events, so that we do not have to charge entrance fees from our visitors and to minimize our personal financial risk.” Besides realizing new event concepts the team is working on landing new clients to offer their services as event managers. Roman admits: “We love working on our own concepts, but these events just barely pay our bills.” Roman and Gabor both gave up their jobs to work on their own venture full-time. “Our strongest motivation is seeing happy visitors and satisfied exhibitors and artists. This intrinsic motivation is necessary to cope with the ups and downs of the event business. But when you are at your own event thinking ‘wow, this is awesome!’ and you see all those happy and laughing faces, every negative thought and exhausting moment just slips away.” Thank you, Roman!

The next Mondscheinbazar takes place on October 17th, 2015 at the former Anker-Expedithalle in Vienna’s 10th district. See you there!

Roman Groiss, Photo © Philipp Lipiarski, goodlifecrew

Roman Groiss, Photo © Philipp Lipiarski, goodlifecrew

@StefanieSchmied