“Innovation is the key to success”
Mr Gschwandtner, the Runtastic fitness app was your breakthrough as a founder. How did you get into entrepreneurship?
Via detours. I grew up on my parents' farm. They planned to hand it on to me and so I attended an agricultural school and graduated after five years. But it knew that this was not my passion, I didn’t want to be a farmer. And so I studied Mobile Computing and Supply Chain Management at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria in Hagenberg and worked for various software companies for a while. In 2009, I developed the Runtastic app with three friends. And everything took its course.
From farm to venture capital – what is your secret to success?
It may sound corny, but I firmly believe that if you do something with passion, the result is better. But passion is not enough. You also have to have an eye for innovation. Because innovation is the key to success. Without innovation there is no progress. It's vital to always try something new.
What exactly does progress mean to you?
To me, progress means having big dreams and then putting them into practice. To do that, you should have a flexible mindset, stamina, and the will to go the extra mile. That's what I see at Audi, too, which I consider to be one of the pioneers in the field of electromobility.
“Progress means having big dreams and then putting them into practice.”
Electromobility and digitalisation are closely interlinked, in the truest sense of the word: What role does digitalisation play in the future of mobility?
I think, mobility and digitalisation are growing closer together. Software will become increasingly important for the development of vehicles. For instance, we are now using our smartphone to switch on the air conditioning in our car or see where our car is parked. In the future, much more will be possible, and I can well imagine that we will be fully connected.
Would you consider the journey to seamless connectivity to be a sprint or rather a marathon?
First of all, the increasing electrification of mobility is a big and important step for that matter – not just for the automotive industry, but for all of us. I remember being completely overwhelmed when I sat in an e-car for the first time. I think the acceleration, the driving experience is great. When I think about our carbon footprint, driving an electric car feels cleaner than driving an internal combustion engine car. Surely, the charging infrastructure will be improved, so charging will become easier, and acceptance will continue to grow. At the same time, there are so many new technologies, ideas, and approaches in the field of digitalisation that are being developed at a fast pace. Combining these with mobility is not so easy. That's why I consider it to be a marathon, a long journey that can only be taken step by step. But one that will be worthwhile.