Petra Boteková

“Just to try it, you know? It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to work out and it does not mean that you need to do it forever, right? But at least try to see how it feels like.”

Petra Botekova is 28 years old and was born in Slovakia. She once came to Germany as an expat and built a promising career path for herself. Nevertheless, she felt she did not have enough freedom and space to try out new things.  Working for a company meant to her to submit herself to already established hierarchies and business structures, which made it hard to bring in innovation. When she moved to Austria, again as an expat, she decided to give it a shoot and started her own business “BoundaryLess” that helps professionals to develop their career abroad.

“Just to try it, you know? It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to work out and it does not mean that you need to do it forever, right? But at least try to see how it feels like.”

 The idea of “BoundaryLess” arose from the fact that many young people are moving abroad and at the same time many companies have difficulties in finding local talents.  Petra wanted to help expats in Austria to have appropriate support because moving abroad often includes many difficulties.

“One of the biggest struggles that expats have is social contact. Learning about the country and being left alone can bring a lot of frustration.”

Not only on the side of the expats there are obstacles, but the retaining rate of international talents also tends to be very low in the companies. Petra wants to support in the effective absorption of expats. She is developing a cost-efficient solution with dedicated methodologies and an App, so that small businesses can also afford the integration of newly foreign workers. According to her a company can save a lot of money if a worker is correctly integrated and can stay in the local company longer.

She started 1 and a half year ago and is already walking boldly in the Viennese startup scene. The next steps are basically securing an investment. The business is ready to receive funds from investors, to build a prototype and to do beta tests.

Petra already started studying German back in Slovakia, but it was still difficult for her to use the languages in the day to day relations. Her internship was in a Germans-only team, which was a challenge but at the same time a good “accelerator” towards her fluency.

To Petra the difficulties of migration are always part of the whole bundle. It is an extra detail that she must deal with on top of what is already usual to be dealt with in business.

“The locals are not thinking about that.”

– but the migrants do. Even in small things. If she wants to quit her job and move back home she is not able to do it, she needs to be in the country to receive unemployed money, so you have the risk of ending up bounded to the social structure of the country, on the other hand, if you are a native, you have always a home to go back to and can always receive support from your parents and family. There is also always a preoccupation on the back of her mind on how she is being perceived by the Austrians, if she is performing well in their view. Of course you gain some connection throughout the years, she says, but it is much easier for a local to get her network assembled. Network is always a huge thing. It took her at least a year to build a network and she is not happy yet with its size. But all of the challenges are an opportunity for her to raise motivation and to go for it.

You have a disadvantage but it makes you work even harder.”

The values and traditions are very important in Austria and it can be hard to be part of the business scene. It is very different than starting in the USA where people are very risk oriented. In Austria people are much less focused on the innovation and more prone to consider if the whole thing will actually work and sell. She is pretty much aware, due to her experience both as an expat and also as a businesswoman in this sector, that the personality of migrant might not fit the local and its culture and the entrepreneurs must always decide whether they will stay or move to another country.

Petra recommends every foreign entrepreneur to get a coach. Although it is expensive, it is very useful to have someone who is giving a neutral perspective on things and making the entrepreneur see the blind spots. For her, it is essential to have a mentor, especially in the early stage.

 Moreover, she finds it very suboptimal that if entrepreneurs are starting up they don’t have access to unemployed money. She thinks that this distinction should be not so rigid, it would be great to have support from the system once you want to start out something new.

“I think it (the support structure for entrepreneurs in Europe) could be better. I don’t think it is very cool that if I quit my job I cannot have support, in the beginning of a company you are not earning any money, even though you working a lot.”

She also mentions that the funding opportunities could be better. If you decide to apply for a support program you must be ready to wait for ages to get a response. It is not fast enough. In all of the financial sense, she feels that there is not much support going on.

 

 

 

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This website is part of the project Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow — EMEN-UP (no. 764398) which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020)

The Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow

This website is part of the project Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow — EMEN-UP (no. 764398) which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020)

The Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow

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