Schloss Urstein, Meierei, Schlossallee 1, 5412 Puch - Salzburg, Austria


This was the Startup Executive Academy 2020 Online

The Startup Executive Academy (SEA), designed as an international week-long Go-to-Market program for early-stage (seed, A or B phase) technology startup executives and founders, has been taking place annually since 2017 in Salzburg, Austria.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were forced to reinvent the SEA, so in the past months, we transformed it into a three-month online Go-to-Market program that took place in three stages. Nevertheless, the aim of the academy remained unchanged; to enable startups to accelerate their business by providing highly relevant and practical input that’s delivered by a world-class faculty from academia and business, led by Prof. Baba Shiv from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
In total, 21 executives and founders from Austria, Germany, Jordan, Sweden and USA participated in this year’s SEA20 Online. 

Here is an overview of what happened in the three stages of the SEA20 Online:
Stage 1:
Participants met for their online business challenge assessment together with experts from our world-class network to evaluate current challenges in their startups.
Stage 2:  
In the second stage, participants met for weekly live sessions led by our world-class faculty on topics such as Business Model & Strategy, Value Proposition, Story Telling, Pricing, Negotiation, Sales and Investment. Beyond that, participants met for weekly group work sessions supported by mentors in order to prepare for the live sessions. At the end, all participants, faculty, mentors and our alumni from the SEA Circle network met for the SEA Circle Day.
Stage 3:
The SEA20 Online program was concluded by the post-SEA20 Online assessment in which participants and selected SEA faculty members draw conclusions from the key learnings of the last weeks and defined the next steps for the startup.


The highly practical, hands-on Go-to-Market sessions cover topics such as business model & strategy, value proposition, story telling, pricing, negotiation, sales and investment. 
Alongside the sessions, the participants work on their startup’s challenges by completing e.g. the BMC, the Sales Canvas and the Investment Memorandum Canvas.


The program is led by Prof. Baba Shiv from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. The faculty body includes executives and former leaders of global companies like Dolby, Sony, PWC, McKinsey, Napster, and Deutsche Telekom. Participants have the opportunity to meet experts from different fields in 1:1 meetings to discuss the current challenges of their startups.


During the lectures, the 1:1 Online Sessions with faculty members and the regular exchanges with their peers, the participants develop ideas, gather knowledge, and collect feedback.
They can immediately use this input to accelerate their business and take their company to the next level.


The SEA CIRCLE is the Alumni network of former SEA participants and enables continuous learning through regular SEA CIRCLE Sessions. In these sessions, participants get input from the SEA faculty on currently important startup topics, they can share their experiences on success and failure and receive advice from peers.


Here’s what our participants of the SEA20 Online say about the program:

The Startup Executive Academy was a unique and intense experience
where top executives, professors and investors shared years worth of learning into a short period of time. It gave me and my business the know-how I needed to reach our next key milestones. I really enjoyed the balance between the more academic lessons and the learning-by-doing with the weekly homework. I’m also very thankful for the one-on-one office hours sessions where I could exchange and get support for my startup trajectory and current challenges.
I can highly recommend the Startup Executive Academy to all startup leaders who look into accelerating their learnings, and building a powerful international network.

Elodie Swanberg


The Startup Executive Academy 2020 was very well organised and structured in the online format despite the challenging COVID situation. Qualified lecturers from business and academia made the 4 weeks very informative, inspiring and at the same time a great added value for our future development. Questions about current challenges and problems that one has to face are discussed in open space among the participating start-ups and the individual sessions and answered in a solution-oriented way. The SEA thrives on the exchange between the international participants as well as the international experts. As a graduate, the Startup Executive Academy 2020 was a real success for me personally and for our startup. Recommendable!

Gerald Eder

Co-Founder solbytech  gmbh,

The SEA drips with highly distilled entrepreneurial spirit,
guiding young startups through the most crucial topics of their journey, with the knowledge and wisdom of experts of their respective domains. Startups gain first-class access to market wisdom and are able to connect with fellow startups. Knowledge sharing is deeply ingrained into the program. The lessons are outstanding and the knowledge and insights you get to avoid common problems are priceless.

Martin Macheiner

CTO VIABIRDS Technologies GmbH,

The SEA20 was perhaps one of the most challenging programs I had the pleasure to experience so far in the startup world.
The tightly packed and very interactive schedule combined with top-class faculty offered me and my company the possibility to not just question everything, but also to work on actionable solutions during the one on one sessions. Having access to world-class leaders on such a personal level is unique. Everybody wants a network like this one. Proud to be part of it!

Philip Meier

CCO & Co-Founder ImageBiopsy Lab GmbH,

Review of previous years

Get trained by top professors and experienced executives.
Meet passionate founders, global industry experts and top investors.

Become a member of the SEA Circle –
a world class startup network.

Here’s what SEA participants from previous years say:

„I’ve never participated in a program where top executives of corporations, Silicon Valley VCs and Stanford professors get together to share not only their knowledge and expertise with us but also insights that are hard to access from the outside. I hold an MBA in Strategic Management but the SEA provides a totally different, tailor-made experience. The fantastic international peers turn into your friends, mentors, advisors, and supporters. I recommend the SEA to startup leaders who seek to move to another level, gain practical knowledge and build a powerful network.“

Elena Shkarubo

CEO MeetnGreetMe
Minsk, Belarus

„I was blown away by Prof. Baba Shiv and the intensity of the Startup Executive Academy program. I have received so much new input that changed my mind and helped me to gain a different view on many aspects of my company. Our group of participants was really international and this gave me very interesting insights on how to grow globally. After the Academy, I was invited to give a lecture for a Stanford executive program which was the first step to expand my business in the US. I can highly recommend the Startup Executive Academy.“

Ralph Hünermann

CEO Odoscope
Cologne, Germany 

„The Startup Executive Academy was very good, both the lectures as well as the curriculum. I already attended at similar programs of top US business schools and would like to congratulate for this great curriculum and very competent faculty. I was able to learn again and can recommend this Startup Executive Academy in Europe!“

Nuno Job

London, United Kingdom

The SEA was an intense but incredibly encouraging experience. Insights from top executives, investors and professors have proven to be a real catalyst for the development of my business and myself. Working on your business model is, in theory, not hard, but in practice slight nuances in your decision-making can have a huge impact in sharpening your product vision, reaching your target group, telling your products‘ story and cutting the deals in sales. Getting a better understanding of these nuances through inspiring talks, intense discussions and insights with the vastly experienced faculty and my international peers made me humble and thankful. It’s great to be part of this family!

Thomas Layer-Wagner

CEO Polycular
Salzburg, Austria

For investors

Investors are always looking for professional Go-to-market execution. The SEA is the perfect five-day crash course to learn this. Sending a talented startup executive to the SEA is a great investment in your investment. 



Dr. Baba Shiv

Lead Professor
Stanford Graduate School of Business

Baba Shiv is the Sanwa Bank, Ltd., Professor of Marketing, Co-Director of the Strategic Marketing Management Executive Program and Director of the Innovative Technology Leader Executive Program at the Stanford GSB. He has done extensive work on the emotional brain, documenting its powerful role in shaping decisions and experiences. His work includes the application of neuroeconomics to the study and practice of innovation and entrepreneurial leadership. His work has been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, CNN, Economic Times, Fox Business, Financial Times, The New York Times or Wall Street Journal (a.o.). Baba Shiv teaches executives at Stanford about strategy, entrepreneurial leadership, decision-making, and customer-focused innovation.

Andreas Spechtler

Founder Startup Executive Academy
Founder & CEO Silicon Castles

Andreas has more than 25 years of experience in the global technology and licensing business, digital entertainment, international marketing, sales and operations in Europe, the US, Russia, the Middle East, and Africa. Andreas worked for American, German and Japanese companies and looks back on many years of startup and incubation experience inside and outside of corporations. Andreas served as an executive in global technology companies such as Sony, Nemetschek, Real Networks and Dolby. Previously, Andreas was the President of Dolby Laboratories International. In the year 2017, Andreas left the corporate world and is now fully dedicated to helping startups to grow and startup executives to become world-class performers.

Pascal Levensohn

Senior Strategic Advisor at Silicon Castles
Founder & Managing Partner Levensohn Venture Partners
Senior Managing Director Dolby Family Ventures

Pascal is the Founder of Levensohn Venture Partners and Senior Managing Director of Dolby Family Ventures. He has over 25 years of venture capital experience and has invested in over 100 startups since 1996. He has 37 years of experience as a professional investor and has been a public and private company director since 1993. He currently serves as a Director of startups in three continents and is based in San Francisco. Pascal is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a partner and Senior Strategic Advisor to Silicon Castles.

Eva Wimmers

CEO NativeWaves

Since April 2020, Eva Wimmers is the CEO of NativeWaves, a Silicon Castles Diamond startup. Previously, she acted as President for Huawei Honor in Europe and VP for Honor Global where she oversaw sales, operations and marketing in Europe and also global business. As part of her role, she established the young brand in the European market and drove partnerships across Europe. Before joining Huawei, she served as Chief Procurement Officer at Deutsche Telekom group and Member of the T-Systems Supervisory Board. Her proven track record of driving effective change within large and small international businesses and being an expert in building European and global trends, brands and partnerships make her a valuable asset for startups.

Jeff Burton 

CEO Woodside Creek Ventures

Jeff Burton co-founded Electronic Arts and today he is known as a serial American startup entrepreneur with a passion for European innovation and startups. Jeff is board member of several European startups, co-founder of HolodeckVR in Munich, and a major advisor to BitDegree and other technology companies. He is also a Partner/Associate at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. In addition to being Head of Global Programs for Startup Division by Civittá in Vilnius, Lithuania, he recently became a member of the Board of Advisors for Startup Europe under the European Commission in Brussels. 

Antje Hundhausen

VP Brand Experience Deutsche Telekom

Antje Hundhausen is VP for Brand Experience at Deutsche Telekom and looks back on 20 years in executive positions in IT/Telecommunications and Tourism. The business administration graduate and music and art expert is in charge of Deutsche Telekom’s brand unit, 3D Brand Experience. In this capacity, she is responsible for brand communication spaces. Together with her team she develops and implements concepts for international corporate trade fairs, enables culture mindshift through Future Workplaces and creates and implements overall Retail Design for the company. Antje is founder of digital open labs such as Fashion Fusion and Digital Art and is responsible for the Deutsche Telekom Group’s art collection.

Catherine Ogilvie

Senior Marketing Advisor at Silicon Castles
CEO Ogilvie Brand Boot Camp

Catherine Ogilvie has been in global marketing and communications for over 30 years. She worked with blue chip businesses around the world and lived both in Europa and the US. Her roles have included senior international management positions with Harrods, Motorola, Napster, Edelman, Almond Board of California and Dolby. Most recently she has held leadership positions within higher education at the University of Leicester. She has highly valuable experience in building and mentoring teams, developing corporate/brand narratives and effective marketing strategy in a range of industry sectors from start-ups to multi nationals. Currently a member of Authentic Vision’s European Advisory Board and she works with C-suite executives on crisis, marketing and communications strategy.

William Alexander

Global Practice Leader for Technology Media Telecom at Spencer Stuart

William Alexander leads the Global Practice for Technology, Media & Telecommunications at Spencer Stuart and is a member of the Board and CEO practices. He specializes in the appointments of senior executives and non-executive directors within the converging arenas of technology, communications and media. William leads searches for both listed and private equity-held corporate clients and works on many of the critical leadership transitions. Before joining Spencer Stuart, William helped establish and led MetaPack, a private equity-backed software company, from startup to sustainable profitability. Prior, he was working in management functions at IBM, Broadsystem and Bain & Company. 

Dr. Petra Meyer

Senior Talent Advisor at Silicon Castles
Professor at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences

Petra is a Senior Lecturer at the Salzburg University for Applied Sciences for emotional intelligence, culture and team development. Over many years she gained experience working with corporations like IKEA, Barracuda or Bachmann Electronic. Petra acts as training facilitator and coach to drive organizations to the next level. She is also a SixSeconds Network Leader. Petra earnt her master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, and her Ph.D. in Management and Marketing at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Dr. Gerhard Blechinger

Rector at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences

Dr. Gerhard Blechinger is the Rector of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. Before that he was Head of the Degree Programme MultiMediaArt at the university. He also served as Vice-Rector for Research and Development and Head of the Institute for Design and Technology at the Zurich University of the Arts. Gerhard Blechinger was Vice-President of the consortium of German Universities for the foundation of the Korean-German Institute of Technology Seoul. Before, he was Vice-Director of the Media Museum and Head of the Medialab at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe.

Dr. Katja Hutter

Vice Rector for Digitalization and Innovation at the University of Salzburg

Dr. Katja Hutter is a Marketing & Innovation profsessor at the University of Salzburg and also teaches Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Innsbruck. Katja is a visiting fellow at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard University and senior research associate at HYVE. Her research examines the transformation of innovation processes to the edges of organizations into innovation labs, collaboration with startups or communities. She investigates incentive schemes and consumer interaction behavior facilitated by new technologies to generate insights for new products, services, or business models that revolve around customers and their needs. 

Dr. Robert Niemann

Lecture at the University of  St.Gallen

Dr. Niemann has many years of expertise in international sports and entertainment. Starting his career in entertainment at the Kirch Group, in the programme management of the TV channel ProSieben and as Vice President Sales at Fremantle Media (RTL Group), he became General Manager at SONY Pictures Television International. In 2008 he continued his career in football as CEO of DFL Sports Enterprises GmbH in Frankfurt and has been a consultant for FIFA in Zurich since 2014. In the investment industry, Dr. Niemann has extensive experience in financing and structuring international projects and evaluating investments. He is invested in various companies and projects.

Maciej Kraus

Partner at Movens Capital

Maciej Kraus is an experienced strategy executive with broad operational background. As former head of sales strategy and revenue optimization at PWC, he is specialized in pricing and sales excellence in B2B, B2C and retail markets. He advised companies in various markets (Poland, USA, Ruddia, China, France, Germany) and worked both for leading multinationals (RWE, Siemens, Daimler, MW, Johnson&Johnson, Mondi) as well as MSEs. Furthermore, he possesses vast hands-on experience responsible for marketing and product management at Nestle. Beside that Maciej Kraus is author of numerous publications and a regular speaker at conferences. Spreading his knowledge as lecturer at the University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, LBS, Stanford and Harvard, he is also active as a sales coach and trainer.

Robert Ashcroft

Principal at Hudson Morris Associates

Robert Ashcroft is Principal at Hudson Morris Associates. Prior, he served as CEO at PRS for Music, the UK’s leading music copyright collecting society representing over 130.000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. Before that, Robert worked for a number of international companies, including eight years on the management boards of Sony Electronics in the US and Sony Europe. There he launched their e-commerce business,, and ran the iconic Walkman business, before launching a number of pan-European Internet services, including the world’s first subscription music service to stream over both mobile and fixed-line networks in 2004. He is also a co-founder and chair of music neuro-biology company, X-System Ltd.

Susanne Birgersdotter

Business Advisor, Author & Entrepreneur

Eight years ago, Susanne Birgersdotter saddled from fashion and events to start her first tech company. This resulted in an number one hit on App-store and a co-ownership of an investment company. Susanne has since founded and co-founded several companies in Europe and the US. In addition to innovative app ideas, she has established the Birgersdotter brand and the business network WorldWomenNetwork.
Susanne also wrote a book about her journey as a female entrepreneur, has been nominated to Sweden’s most influential female founder of Dagens Industri and most recently to the most powerful woman in Business of the Week business. 

Chris Deering

Supervisory Board Member at European Games Group

Chris Deering serves as a Supervisory Board Member at the European Games Group and is best known for his longterm role as CEO of PlayStation Europe from the launch in 1995 through its first decade, during which he also headed Sony’s Electronics Division in Europe as CEO for 2 years before moving into new tech/entertainment ventures. Chris has over 30 years experience in managing International film, TV, games and consumer brand businesses. He also worked with McKinsey and received a Bafta Fellowship for his contributions to the Computer Gaming Industry in 2013.

Lukas Crepaz

Commercial Director Salzburg Festival

Lukas Crepaz is the Commercial Director of the Salzburg Festival, a global leading festival of music and drama established in 1920 and located in the heart of Salzburg. Before that he was the Managing Director of the Kultur Ruhr GmbH in Germany responsible for four festival and events: Ruhrtriennale – Festival der Künste, Urbane Künste Ruhr, ChorWerk Ruhr und Tanzlandschaft Ruhr. Mr. Crepaz also was commercially responsible for the RUHR2010, Kulturhauptstadt Europas. He started his career in Austria at the Easter Festival in Tirol. He is interested in new technologies and gained experience in successfully running culture businesses.

Dr. Barbara Scharrer

Attorney-at-Law Of Counsel at GSK Stockmann

Barbara Scharrer has been in Asian Outbound/Inbound business for more than 20 years in various functions. She acts as an attorney-at-law and trusted advisor assisting European companies to start, to enlarge or to restructure their investments in Asia, especially in China & India. As former CEO and Head Group Asia/Pacific of an international multidisciplinary service firm she was responsible for setting up and managing 12 offices across Asia/Pacific. She is also member of several (Supervisory) Boards particularly of Chinese subsidiaries of European companies. Barbara also teaches International Management at several German univeristies.  As Of Counsel of the law firm GSK Stockmann Barbara also advises Asian investors regarding EU-inbound investments.

James Perkins

Program Director for Startup Executive Academy
Associate Director for Executive Education Programs at Stanford Graduate School of Business

James Perkins is the Associate Director of Executive Education Programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Prior to this role, he led Alumni Clubs and Global Outreach for Columbia Business School in New York. He started his career in non-academic fields, working in strategic positions at HBO, Pepsi Cola, and MGM Motion Pictures. He holds a Bachelor of Science in the field of Business Administration from the University of San Diego. James supports Silicon Castles as the Program Director for the Startup Executive Academy program.

Christian Dreyer

CEO Dreyer Ventures

Christian Dreyer is well-known as an entrepreneur, investor, and former CEO. After working as a consultant for McKinsey, he acquired Hansen Sicherheitstechnik, a specialist mining equipment manufacturer in Germany. He grew the company internationally over 18 years (Eastern Europe, Russia, China, South Africa) and IPOed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2006. Christian also served as CEO of SkiData AG. Since 2005, he acts as an active investor engineering, life science and media companies such as MS Industrie AG, Beno, logistics software company BNS, Novogenia, Europe’s biggest genetic analysis lab and a digital media publishing house “Vox Populi”.

Selma Brenner

Yoga Teacher

Selma is a natural teacher with more than 20 years of experience and an extensive background of different schools of yoga. Her primary teachers include the late BKS Iyengar, the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Amsterdam as well as Orit Sen Gupta.
With her own faculty Yoga Place Salzburg, Selma offers teacher trainings in yoga, yoga therapy, meditation and Ayurveda. She also teaches regular classes as well as yoga retreats.
For the past 10 years Selma has honed her approach by studying Svastha yoga therapy, Yin Yoga as well as modern medicine and stress management. This has enabled Selma to offer a transformative practice which blends the timeless wisdom of yoga philosophy with evidence-based information. Her classes generally are powerfully physical and internally focused with the goal to help participants grow and evolve.

Mahesh Sundaram

CCO Authentic Vision

Mahesh Sundaram is the Chief Commercial Officer at Authentic Vision and served as a sales and marketing executive in the mobility and consumer electronics market for over 20 years. Prior to joining Authentic Vision, he was the VP for Global Sales and Customer Support at Immersion Inc. and Regional VP for Asia Pacific at Dolby Labs, where he developed business strategies, as well as sales, marketing and customer support functions. Mahesh also served in business management and marketing roles at Dolby Labs and Audistry, Australia. Before that, he worked at Intel bringing new products and technologies to market in the Asia Pacific region.

David Kinsella

General Counsel Silicon Castles
CEO djk legal

With over 17 years of experience as a legal practitioner both in private practice and in-house in technology, media, and entertainment, David has worked for Taylor Wessing, Siemens, Fujitsu, Sony and most recently held the position of Senior Director, IP Transactions & Legal Affairs at Dolby in London. He is qualified as a lawyer in multiple jurisdictions (England & Wales, Ireland, New York, and California) in addition to his registration as a European lawyer with the Munich Bar Association, Germany. David also holds an MBA, acts as General Counsel for Silicon Castles and affiliated companies and retains his own legal practice for independent legal consultancy.

Dr. Matthias Röder

Managing Director Karajan Institute

Dr. Matthias Röder is the Managing Director of the Karajan Institute and as such responsible for the overall strategy and worldwide business development of the KARAJAN® brand and its associated products. Röder joined the Karajan Institute in 2011 from Harvard University, where he was a member of the music faculty and received a PhD in musicology in 2010. Prior to, Matthias studied music at the renowned Mozarteum University in Salzburg. This year Matthias very successfully hosted the first Karajan Music Technology Conference that gained global reach in the classial music industry.

Walter Haas

CEO ITG – Innovation Service for Salzburg

Walter Haas is Managing Director of the ITG Innovation and Technology Transfer Agency of the Austrian Federal Province of Salzburg (Land Salzburg). ITG coordinates and implements technology- and innovation-related policies of the provincial government through SME support, Cluster Networks and knowledge/technology transfer into SMEs. Walter has over 17 years of experience in regional and business location development, coaching companies, institutions and regions in their implementation of innovative projects and research. ITG’s coaching initiative Startup Salzburg, develops a regional startup-ecosystem. Prior, he was the regional manager for the European region Salzburg-Berchtesgadener Land-Traunstein and supported the cross border co-operation between Bavaria and Salzburg.

Dr. Balthasar Schramm

Co-Founder & Head of Advisory Board at Responsive Acoustics

Dr. Balthasar Schramm is a serial entrepreneur and well-known business angel. He is Head of the Advisory Board of Responsive Acoustics. For decades he has been acting in the field of strategic business development. He started his career at Bertelsmann as a lawyer and later founded his own law firm and became known as a strategic IPO adviser for the Frankfurt New Market. He then served as President of Sony Music Entertainment GSA and later founded the Nawaro BioEnergie AG, Europe‘s market leader for industrial bio gas production. Today he supports entrepreneurs and startups in Europe with an focus on business development and financing. 

Thomas Grundnigg

Professor at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences

Thomas Grundnigg is a professor at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences where he is Head of the Management department at the MultiMediaArt program. He creates and facilitates transformative learning experiences at the Mozarteum and the University of Art and Design Linz. Thomas is also Head of the TRACE-Lab/Salzburg and co-founder of the Salzburg-Sarajevo Academy. He has a strong believe in empathy work and radical collaboration which he was immersed in at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford where he also developed creative confidence through design thinking, and skills and mindsets needed to thrive in a complex and ambiguous world.

Jay Kim

Managing Director at The PF Consulting

Jay Kim is the Managing Director at The PF Consulting and supporting US and European tech companies to expand their footprint into the Asian market including Korea and Japan. All along his career, he served as a sales and marketing executive in the mobile, consumer electronics and digital entertainment for over 20 years. Prior to establishing The PF Consulting, he was the Country Manager of Korea at Dolby Labs, where he developed business strategies, sales and marketing and customer support functions. Jay also served as VP of APAC business managing business operations of RealNetworks and WiderThan. Before that he set up two companies, Music & Film and Voceweb, operating record label and speech recognition platform respectively. He worked as a senior engineer and technology analyst in LG Electronics and LG Semicon until 1998.

SEA Circle Startups