Join Us!
Fuckup Stories

Please welcome our new Fuckup Nights Vienna team!

After 6 long years, Fuckup Nights is finally back in the lovely city of Vienna with the help of Salomé and Stephan, but who are they, you might ask?

Fuckup Nigths
Please welcome our new Fuckup Nights Vienna team!

We're proud to introduce our latest addition to the Fuckuppers' community around the globe: Salomé Wagner and Stephan Blahut, who will lead the Fuckup Nights Vienna community.

Without further ado, here's our interview with both of them. We're sure you'll find their passion and knowledge is a powerful asset that will clear any doubts caused by copycats in the city of Vienna and other places around the globe.

FuN: Stephan, how did you learn about Fuckup Nights? What was your initial reaction when you first heard the name and concept, and how did you decide to become an official organizer?

Stephan: I heard about FUN a long time ago, but I was really inspired by Salomé herself when she convinced me to sign the license, which I happily did. My first reaction to the name was "Oh, cool!”
When I learned about the concept, I was intrigued to learn more, as establishing a culture of failure is obviously key to future success.
It pretty much parallels what we have been doing at ÖGV, Österreichischer Gewerbeverein (Austrian Association of Crafts and Trade), for quite some time, an association that was made through some existential fuckups along its existence.

FuN: Salomé, you were with us until 2017. Why did you step down as an organizer back in the day?


In 2016, I also started FUN Graz together with Lisa Steindl. She still runs this show with a great team of fabulous women after I left in 2019. 

After 3 years in Vienna, the moment in 2017 had come to decide, what to do with all these inspiring insights I got from the speakers. How can I bring this knowledge to the next level? 

As an independent management consultant, I accompany mostly IT entrepreneurs on their way to realize visions. They know - coming from IT - that technical or organizational hurdles are on their way, but still have no idea how to build resilience to deal with it from a personal and company perspective.
So transferring this “how-to” from the start-up scene to an established entrepreneurial environment took me those past years. Meanwhile, I see that learning from failure as company culture has found its box in the management model of the senior level.


FuN: Looking back at your first time around as an organizer, can you recall any particularly memorable moments or impactful words that were spoken by you or others during the events?

Salomé: Oh yes, it still amazes me. The president of the newly founded young entrepreneurs forum of ÖGV came to me after the second FUN in Vienna and said: “Ms Wagner, you are so crazy, I need you to help me build up this new forum.” In ÖGV, I also met Peter Lieber. He is a passionate parallel entrepreneur,  a dedicated mentor, and a 3 times FUN speaker. He always supported the FUN activities in Vienna and Graz from the beginning. Meanwhile, he is the president of ÖGV,  and I got elected as vice president 4 years ago.

FuN:  Salomé, what made you come back as an organizer? Why is sharing business failures important to you, personally?

Salomé: Very simple: I have been asked from several sides to come back and I finally said yes. When discussing Failure Culture in public, it is clear to me, it has to evolve within the global ecosystem of FuckUp Nights and the Failure Institute, together with my amazing Austrian colleagues Lisa Steindl from Graz, Aleksandra Nagele from Salzburg and Bettina Wenko from Tirol.  We will collaborate and also ensure synergies for our local fan base :-) 

Personally and first of all, I am terribly afraid of failing. But I have found out, I am not the only one and you can do something about it. The goal of FUN to share and learn from each other has meanwhile arrived to a broader audience. And this is the plan to go ahead.

We at ÖGV are establishing a mentorship program where we support entrepreneurs who are about to jump on the next level with their company. In this more defined, structured field of entrepreneurship, the FUN learning experience has its reasonable spot. I am also leading a campaign about Digital Humanism for Entrepreneurs. We at ÖGV are in the process of writing down our own manifesto: How to deal with this epochal change we are facing? Vienna sees itself as the capital of Digital Humanism and we always follow the path with the perspective of an entrepreneur. 

Secondly, I nevertheless failed many times in my life: from my education (non-passed exams at university), over sports (taken out of the race at my first medium distance triathlon due to cut–off time in T2) to some professional engagements in the start-up environment (“time for shares” model as a business Angel). I made peace with these “life happenings”, also thanks to my personal FUN learnings. It is about resilience, how to remain focused even under the worst circumstances when everything seems lost. FUN changes how to look at things, it allows a multi-dimensional view of our ventures and their outcomes.  So thirdly: I am simply on a mission.

FuN: Stephan, along your journey -both personally and professionally, what significant lessons have you learned from facing failure and setbacks? Can you share any specific instances or moments that had a profound impact on your growth and development?

Stephan: I'd say, the key is to as early as possible for you be open about it. Talk about it. My single advice is: look for someone who has sort of your experience and reach out. Of course there a times, when you do not want anyone to know, but please leave this behind and face yourself in the mirror as you are the one to see the very first signs of failure first.

One story I like to tell is about my grandfather, the proud owner of a paper mill. A few times he took me on a tour of the halls. He would greet each of his employees and talk to each one for a few minutes: what he was doing, how he was doing, including his health, how his wife and children were doing, how his parents were doing, what work was coming up.

Since I was with him, I also had to tell each one about my "work" - my very difficult situation at the school at that time. Very embarrassing at first, but increasingly with a lot of good encouragement to do better.

I really tried harder. I also realized that my grandfather's regular walkthroughs not only strengthened people's trust in him and the company but also kept him better informed than anyone else about potential challenges the company might face or ideas for improvement.

He showed up and stood with his people. Maybe that's what led me to do what I like to do best and what I've been doing for longer than my job: listening, discussing, forging new ideas and projects together, initiating and supporting them... In this sense, I really look forward to every Fuckup Night: it gets better and better.

FuN: Salomé, if there's one key takeaway from your failures, what would it be?

Salomé: Sound preparation for your ventures still remains key. And then expect the unexpected.

FuN: If you could offer a piece of advice to individuals grappling with their failures, what would that advice be?

Salomé: Nourishing provisions for the road ahead come from within not from outside. So allow yourself to be your best friend, you deserve it. At any stage of the spiral going down, you have the option to stop and step out - also with external help. So ask for it, there is nothing bad about it. I recommend reading the book “Aufwärtsspirale” (only in German, one of the first German books about failure culture), written by Gerhard Scheucher, a several times FUN speaker in Vienna and Graz. 

FuN: A question for both of you :) If you had to describe an official Fuckup Nights event in Vienna using just one or two adjectives, what words would you choose to capture the essence of the event?

Salomé: Engaging!

Stephan: Very inspiring!

Thanks Salomé and Stephan for joining the Movement. We can't wait to see the videos and pictures of your first event!

Salomé Wagner is an independent and certified Management Consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. After spending 10 years in international marketing roles in large corporations, she now supports owner-led IT companies in their business development functions. During her time as a business angel for early-stage start-ups, she initiated and established the international event format "FuckUp Nights" in Vienna and Graz, Austria, hosting more than 50 events until 2019. Currently, she serves as Vice President of the Austrian Trade Organisation, Österreichischer Gewerbeverein, and co-founded WomeninICT, a special interest group of VÖSI, the Austrian Organisation of Software Innovations. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, biking, running (also known as Triathlon), and seeks inspiration from art exhibitions and the opera. Learn more about Salomé here.

Stephan Blahut is Secretary General of the Austrian Trade Organisation, Österreichischer Gewerbeverein. He's a kind of 'date doctor for entrepreneurs', connecting them from the first start-up idea to the traditional business. He believes in curiosity, experience, mentoring, dynamics, opportunities, and fun as essential elements of a successful business relationship. Stephan is interested in discovering the dew point of his clients. He believes that the first dewdrop of a long-term (business) relationship emerging from the fog of the unknown is fascinating. His vocation to connect many such glittering drops into new, powerful streams. If you're an entrepreneur looking to discover your dew point, Stephan is the right person to help you. Learn more about Stephan here.

Follow Fuckup Nights Vienna on Instagram

Editado por

Please welcome our new Fuckup Nights Vienna team!


Related COntent
¡Lleva Fuckup Nights a tu organización!

Transformemos nuestra percepción del fracaso y utilicémoslo como catalizador del crecimiento.