Interview with the Urban Innovators Challenge Winners

Bridges vol. 42, December 2014 / Startup Corner

By Robin Tim Weis

UrbanLifeCyleProject goes USA 

After winning the Urban Innovators Challenge in Austria, visiting the US, winning a wild card, and participating in a global startup challenge, Mario Eibl and Oskar von Hanstein of UrbanLifeCycleProject (ULCP) spoke with BRIDGES for a recap of their recent US trip and their startup at large. 

Growing up, what did the US exemplify for the two of you?

Mario: Toy Racecar Companies [thinking of ANKIDRIVE] that get US$110 million investments.

Oskar: Indians, aliens, cowboys, NASA, and hiking in Yosemite.


What has changed in that perception since visiting?

Mario: We started to grow our advisory board.

Oskar: Creative people with a vision and ideas are always welcome.


Having brought ULCP to the US, what has been the biggest mistake(s) that both of you have made?

Mario: We didn’t surf in California!

Oskar: Not staying longer and using the time in the US to fascinate as many people as possible with our vision and products.


East or West Coast?

Mario: West Coast … not only for surfing.

Oskar: West Coast.


If you had not developed a bike, what piece of hardware would you have liked to develop?

Mario: Toy Racecars. Or seriously? An energy recovery unit.

Oskar: When something upsets me or others, an idea is born. This process starts automatically and goes very fast. That means I have some ideas under development. But generally speaking, the world and the people have a high demand for products and services that enhance their daily life more than they expected. User experience and empathy are my main drivers. And people and the environment force me to do something.


What was the most common phrase you heard during your trip in the US?

Mario & Oskar: AWESOME!


In four words, what can Americans do better than Austrians entrepreneurship-wise?

Mario: Pitch, try early, network, T-shirts (instead of ties)

Oskar: The best idea wins!


Vice versa, in four words, what can Austrians do better than Americans entrepreneurship-wise?

Mario: Hardware, science, niche markets, government grants.

Oskar: The best argument wins!


What is the biggest risk that each of you has taken?

Mario: Founding a family and a startup at the same time.

Oskar: Internal and external risks are omnipresent. But that’s our mission: to pivot and change so fast that we can eliminate them.


Have you taken enough risks thus far? If not, why?

Mario: No, the next thing is: Bring an amazing new vehicle to the market!

Oskar: It’s always good to leave the comfort zone once a day. Taking risks depends on perspective. Others would say it’s a risk what we are doing, but we can say we evaluate it in another way, and then it’s not a risk anymore. Risks will occur all the time. We get used to it. Panta rhei [everything flows].


The dinner table is set, whom does each of you invite, and why?

Mario: Elon Musk – on how to create an amazing electric mobility company.

Oskar: I’ll invite somebody who is more hungry than myself and then, I go to the bar and talk with Ray Kurzweil about the future society.


If you were a selfie, what would you look like?



Vienna or the Bay Area?

Mario: Vienna

Oskar: Bay ViennArea


In one sentence, why should a venture capitalist fund you with $5 million?

Mario: To be a part of the next international mobility brand!

Oskar: This is a lot of money; you can realize a lot of things with that.

Basically she/he invests in the people and their strong vision equipped with two important things: creativity and the pleasure of building things that enlighten others.


What is your favorite German word?

Mario: Kaffeehaus

Oskar: Zeitgeist


What’s the best advice you ever got from your parents?

Mario: Dress warm.

Oskar: Do what you believe in and do it right.


Last but not least, if both of you were not entrepreneurs, what would you be?

Mario: Scientist (Mario)

Oskar: Explorer and Circus Director.

Robin Tim Weis serves as a project manager in OSTA in Washington, DC. Previously, he served as a policy analyst at the International Narcotics Control Board in the United Nations. As a former Europe correspondent for and foreign commercial assistant for the US Embassy in Brussels, he has been a strong proponent of bolstering transatlantic relations. You can follow Robin on Twitter @RobinTimWeis.