Startups made in Austria XVII: Vienna Skill Smiths makes learning attractive again

Vienna on Mar 31, 2016
Upcoming classes of Vienna Skill Smiths © Vienna Skill Smiths

Do you want to learn something new? However, you don´t know what exactly you want to learn, you haven´t got a lot of free time and don´t want to spend too much money for it? How can you solve this problem? The Viennese startup Vienna Skill Smiths found a solution and we would like to introduce it to you.

Our March startup: Vienna Skill Smiths

What does Vienna Skill Smiths do?

The basic concept of the Viennese startup can be summarized very easily. Vienna Skill Smiths makes learning attractive again. Creative content is presented in a professional and entertaining way by experts from the community and in an inspiring location. The content is very diverse. It varies from bookbinding to cooking, wine tasting, writing, photography and product design. Learning should not be an exception anymore but rather something that you do with passion and on a regular basis because it´s inspiring and easy to access. Learning has to be compatible with the time pressure we experience in our daily life and with the many duties and events we have. The founder of Vienna Skill Smiths, Stephan explains us: “Learning new things has to be inspiring as well as easy to integrate in our daily life.”

Vienna Skill Smiths started with so-called one-off classes which take place at evenings and weekends for 1-3 hours. In this month the startup launched his new pro class series. Curious people can gain insights into the jobs of the creative economy. The first three series are photography, writing and freelancing. Stephan tells us: “For some people it is all about discovering new things in a compact way or bringing their hobby on a next level. Others really want to improve their skills for their job. In the future we also want to help people to make career path decisions in the creative economy.” The first pro class series are 3-5 units on a weekend. For Stephan the location of the classes is almost as important as the lecturer. The learning experience does not happen in a boring seminar room but in an inspiring setting, outside, in coffee shops or co-working spaces – depending on what fits the atmosphere of the class.

The classes of Vienna Skill Smiths take place at inspiring locations © Vienna Skill Smiths

The classes of Vienna Skill Smiths take place at inspiring locations © Vienna Skill Smiths

What kind of people will you meet in the classes? 

For Vienna Skill Smiths there are basically two relevant groups. On one hand, people (freelancers, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, shop-owner or experienced hobbyists) from the Viennese community who can present content in an inspiring way. On the other hand, curious and active people who want to discover new things. Until now most of the participants are between 25 and 35 years old. Stephan explains: “We do not want to limit ourselves to this age group but we want to address everyone who wants to follow his interests and try new stuff. We see high potential in particular for people who are interested in jobs of the creative economy and are faced with career path decisions.”

How is the class content selected?

Vienna Skill Smiths focuses mainly on one criteria. The teachers have to be passionate about their topic and should be willing to spark this fascination to others. At the beginning the content selection was particularly based on the circle of friends. Today Stephan´s network in the creative economy scene is so strong that he has no problems with finding the best and most inspiring teachers. Stephan explains: “I talk to interested speakers to check if our mindset fits together and if the collaboration will be fruitful. The quality of the classes is very important for us. That´s the reason why I spend a lot of time with the selection.”

How do you get such an idea?

In the majority of cases a startup idea is not from a single intuition. The personal interest in all possible forms of learning was part of Stephan´s prior projects. Inspiration from other cities, research and a lot of careful consideration lead to Vienna Skill Smiths. A novelty is the collaboration with existing inspiring locations as a partner. They are part of the mission to enable new paths and inspire to positive personal change.

Partner locations from Vienna Skill Smiths © Vienna Skill Smiths

Partner locations from Vienna Skill Smiths © Vienna Skill Smiths

How will the future look like?

First of all, the pro class series should establish itself. Stephan is very confident that the new format will be well received. The basic concept is “to make learning and discovering accessible and attractive”. The concrete formats can advance. They for example also try event formats. One idea which is very interesting for Stephan on a personal level, is that the concept of Vienna Skill Smiths will be established in the career path decisions. This means that it will get easier for very young people to get to know jobs in an accessible setting. In this case Vienna Skill Smiths will collaborate with other players and startups which also work in the sector of learning innovation. In any case, one thing that according to Stephan all people have in common is that “they are curious by nature”.

There is a lot to discover – check out Vienna Skill Smiths!


By Mariana Wirz