Entrepreneurship3 min

So *this* is what being a tech entrepreneur is like

Audvice has gone from a startup to working with Fortune 500 companies since winning Red Bull Basement 2019. Here, the app's founders explain how the program helped their rise and why you should apply.
Written by Trish MedalenPublished on
Austria's student innovators Sophie Bolzer and Nadine Szentivanyi pitched the top idea at Red Bull Basement University 2019. Now, their Audvice tool for helping local students learn is ramping up for global businesses as well.
The idea for Audvice originated with Bolzer and as CEO she'd guided it to the startup phase when she collaborated with Chief Marketing Officer Szentivanyi on a pitch for the Red Bull Basement Global Workshop. Their concept centered on tech for students: a crowdsourcing app to create, share and listen to audio learning content. The team knew that Audvice could also help businesses with information transfer needs, from presentations to training and human resources, but they hadn't gone deep in exploring that market.
Yet, before the pair even flew to Toronto, Canada for the Global Workshop, Red Bull Basement mentoring programs were fuelling their confidence and knowledge base.
"Where else would I have the chance to call a high-level executive in Silicon Valley without him feeling pressure that I wanted to sell something?" says Bolzer. “He gave us feedback and shared input on how processes in these big companies actually work. It was one of our most important learnings."
At the Global Workshop, the pair learned more. "They gave us a lot of tools, like information on how to pitch that I could immediately use," Szentivanyi relates.
Once they got home again, their story made the news and, as Bolzer recalls, "Potential customers that hadn’t been responsive were suddenly reaching out. It gave us so much credibility. Red Bull Basement showed us that we could go global right away and the biggest wins were that we made so many new connections."
As a result, Audvice now has two paid pilot projects for Fortune 500 companies and are taking their business to the B2B market, with the aim of growing it worldwide.
"We realized that we could have a revenue stream focusing on companies while still offering the free student platform, which is also a good testing ground for us," Bolzer explains.
Team Austria celebrates their win at Red Bull Basement University in Toronto, Canada on December 15, 2019.
After winning Red Bull Basement University, Audvice is going strong
Currently, the four-person Audvice team are concentrating on the B2B side, bringing in more customers and, potentially, investment for future growth. Over the long term, these young innovators see the opportunity not only to serve the global business community, but also expand their outreach to students, universities and beyond.
"The dream is to enable anybody, or any organization to create their own audio library for sharing knowledge, securely within their exclusive communities," says Szentivanyi.
Red Bull Basement showed me that even though we're from a tiny city in Austria, we can go to Silicon Valley, we can have Fortune 500 customers and we can operate globally. If you work hard – and if you really dare to try – you can get anything you want
Audvice CEO Sophie Bolzer
Admittedly, today's global situation can create challenges for any startup, but the Audvice team has the right mindset. "We are solution oriented, not problem oriented and I think pressure produces innovation," Bolzer asserts.
Szentivanyi adds: "The most important thing is to remain passionate and to be willing to fight for what you believe in."
Those same words might well inspire students participating in Red Bull Basement. Bolzer has encouragement for the next generation putting themselves out there in the 2020 edition: "If you feel a bit intimidated or insecure, that's the best thing that can happen. The challenge is to embrace it and accept any feedback that comes from a relevant source, whether it's positive or negative, because it will enable you to critically reflect on your idea. This is what really makes you grow."
Szentivanyi concludes: "You're in a safe environment, with like-minded people, so get out of your comfort zone. This is your opportunity to go for what you thought you would never do."