When did you arrive in the United States, and why did you come?
I’d been coming to Southern California for several years and fell in love with the area. Each time I visited Los Angeles I stayed longer and I knew one day I would live here and start something new and exciting. The big move eventually took place in 2012 after I had sold my last business and suddenly had the time and resources. In early 2013, I got involved in the crowdfunding space and co-founded Tubestart.com, the world’s first crowdfunding platform that focuses exclusively on film and video projects.
Title/Company: Chief executive, Tubestart.com, a crowdfunding platform for media projects in Santa Monica
At the time, did you intend to eventually return to your home country?
I have been an expat most of my adult life, having lived and worked in amazing places like Sydney, Berlin, Zurich, Panama and now Santa Monica. I may eventually go back one day, but for the foreseeable future Los Angeles is home.
Why did you start your business in the United States instead of back home?
The problem in Austria is that there’s no support for startups, entrepreneurship and innovation; no incubators, accelerators, angels or VCs of any meaningful magnitude. The talent’s there but if you think getting your innovative idea funded in the U.S. is tough, try Austria. Also, since my early days as an Internet entrepreneur, I had a strong U.S. focus, as it has always been the most lucrative market on the Internet and the source of all major innovations, usually from some California startup out of someone’s mom’s garage. What excites me about this place is how even the seemingly craziest idea can become a reality here and that it’s OK to dream big. As an entrepreneur, I feel much more understood here than I do back home.
What’s the worst thing about starting a business here?
Without a doubt, the visa process. It was insanely tedious and expensive. My application file was some 400 pages strong, and including lawyers, assessments, tests, flying back and forth, and the hoops they made us jump through, it cost the equivalent of an Italian sports car before we had written a single line of code for our new business.
And the best?
The best part was everything that followed: I found great co-founders, partners and advisers. We’re taking investors on board and we’re grinding away on our own version of the American dream every day.
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