Hamburg to Austin: Accelerating at SXSW

 Hamburg to Austin: Accelerating at SXSW

Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World. But, for people with tinnitus, often called “ringing in the ears,” that music isn’t so enjoyable.

Enter Tinnitracks, a company based in Hamburg, Germany, that uses music to treat tinnitus. Tinnitracks is the only German startup to achieve Accelerator status at Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) festival.

“The epicenter of hearing research in the world is in Northern Germany,” says Joerg Land, the CEO of Tinnitracks.

A patient receiving treatment with Tinnitracks picks their own music to listen to during the therapy. The patient’s tinnitus frequencies – which can be determined by an audiologist – are entered into the Tinnitracks app. The tinnitus frequencies are filtered out of the musical selections. By listening to the filtered music at least one hour a day for six months, the patient can retrain the brain to inhibit the nerve cells that trigger tinnitus.

SXSW is an increasingly important place for startups to reach the public and potential investors. But for Land, money is secondary.

Texas CEO Magazine publisher Pat Niekamp chats with Joerg Land, CEO of Tinnitracks.
Texas CEO Magazine publisher Pat Niekamp chats with Joerg
Land, CEO of Tinnitracks.

“It’s not about the money, it’s more about the exposure in the American market,” he said. “For a European company, it’s so difficult to enter the American market.” He said European companies have to spend a lot of money and time building their own networks  in the United States.

“Americans are so lucky, because your own market is so big,” Land said. “Our home market is much smaller – we have to go abroad.”

Tinnitracks is not the only Hamburg-based company at SXSW. The city is also represented by Minubo, an e-commerce analytics firm; Knowwhere, a visual travel search company; and Trip Rebel, a hotel booking company.

Why the out-sized participation from Hamburg? It turns out the old German city is a lot like Austin. It’s roughly the same size, it uses a lot of green technology, and it is one of the top locations in Germany for startups and a favorite working place for creative minds, artists, musicians, and game designers.

Their annual trip to Austin for SXSW is a highlight for the Germans. The takeaway? It can be surprisingly simple.

“Three or four sentences you have in your mind,” said Heiko Hubertz of Bigpoint, a gaming company. “That’s worth coming for.”

Editor’s Note: Tinnitracks won the Accelerator competition in the digital health category, besting seven other finalists.

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