Jonas Schneider, Kim Wlach & Rüdiger Linhof © Startup Alm

Startup Alm: New Work in the Alps

Leave your regular (office) surroundings behind and make your way to an off-site location — that’s the approach the founders of Startup Alm, Kim Wlach and Jonas Schneider, use to help teams become familiar with the new working world. They let us know more about how they do that exactly in our Seven Questions.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Hi, in line with our motto — LEAVE YOUR OFFICE. FIND INNOVATION — we deliberately bring innovative teams together in contemporary places and accompany them on their path to the new working world with our Startup Alm GmbH, which we just founded in March.

Startup Alm was founded by Kim Wlach (29, degree in: Science of Communication) and Jonas Schneider (32, degree in: Business Information Technology). We operate our own team cabin for up to 14 people, have two partner locations in the mountains for up to 45 people that we use exclusively for our concept during specific seasons, as well as a Startup Alm Coaching Team of trained business and outdoor coaches. We’re pursuing further expansion in the coming year.

I (Kim) previously helped build a startup in the field of electromobility and worked for two large American IT companies. During that time, Jonas was working in the automotive industry and with big data. So you might say we’ve both already been active in the innovation and startup scene. In April 2019, we gained Rüdiger Linhof (44) as a creative and strategic team member. He’s also been the bass player for the band Sportfreunde Stiller since 1997.

New Work, coaching and sustainable team building

In our various jobs, we were repeatedly reminded of how important it is to have a functioning and self-organizing team. But how can you achieve that over the long term amid everyday stress?

The more we thought about the subject of New Work, coaching and sustainable team building together, the more concrete the idea became to create an off-site team location where both workshops for teams as well as team building activities could be held in special surroundings. That combined with how we’ve loved the mountains since we were kids quickly answered our question about where we might find an “exceptional location”: The best thing for that is going out to a cabin in the Alps.

2. But that’s already been done!

The basic idea behind Startup Alm doesn’t fit so well in the category with convention hotels, team event organizers and educational centers. The industry definitely needs to be reinvented and expanded by offering additional services. We offer, for example, modern workshops and inspiration specifically for teams, cozy locations with team areas, overnight stays with contact people right on site, full service catering with regional cuisine and a supplementary program that includes activities linked to nature and the mountains. That’s what differentiates Startup Alm from standard conference hotels and other offers.

3. What was your biggest challenge so far?

Focusing on the core to be able to make progress: team building, finding a location and configuring content. In other words: getting the basic framework up and running.

It was equally difficult to completely give up entire areas of responsibility and trustingly hand them over to others — even when that doubles the potential in the end.

4. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?

We’ve conducted more than 40 off-site team events and are currently working on fulfilling our dream of having a bigger location for up to 60 people in a mountain farm style that we’ll operate all year long. We’re looking for the right piece of real estate right now.

We’re also preparing for a very busy time at the end of the year right now, because we once again get to welcome many different companies to out Startup Alm locations that would like to bring the year to a close at an off-site event. We’re really excited about that.

Long established companies & innovative thinking

5. What does Munich mean to you?

For us, Munich is the most beautiful and best situated city in the world. The mountains are right nearby, and Munich feels both like a big city and a village — one that you always like to come back to after every off-site trip. From a professional point of view, Munich offers us an environment full of innovative big hitters. Traditional values of long established companies are united with innovative (team) thinking — that makes it exciting and is why we’re located here in Munich. And most importantly: Despite its internationality, you can feel the Bavarian flair. We feel right at home here!

6. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?

We believe in our company, because the human element is of growing importance. So we hope much like Hoiz Alm, which has been in the same spot for 450 years, to also be able to maintain our position for a few more years.

7. Isar or English Garden?

The Isar, of course! After all, if you follow the river long enough, then you end up in the mountains again.