»Teamwork makes the dream work!«

Nina Kaiser, cofounder 4GAMECHANGERS Festival

This is where future topics meet top entertainment, where decision-makers of today reason with the bright minds of tomorrow. We’re talking about the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival in the heart of Europe, Vienna. Once a year, ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 invites international top speakers, CEOs, entrepreneurs and live acts to the digital festival in the Austrian capital. In 2019, 600 speakers inspired around 15,000 attendees over three days. We talked to Nina Kaiser, cofounder of the festival, about the turbulent beginnings in 2016, her personal festival highlights and challenges that had to be overcome. In this Insights Interview, she also reveals what’s in store for us in 2020.
Nina Kaiser, cofounder 4GAMECHANGERS Festival
Nina, you founded the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival together with ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 CEO Markus Breitenecker. How did the two of you come up with the idea?

We used to invite our biggest clients as well as media and advertising agencies to an annual program presentation in order to present our channel and show highlights. I was Head of Marketing and Communications at the time, so I ran the event for many years. However, at some point we, our CEO Markus Breitenecker and I, asked ourselves whether this format was still up to date. After all, our business had changed significantly over the years. For example, our target group had expanded and we had founded new units such as the digital studio Studio71. So should we not come up with a new, modern strategy for promoting ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 in its various facets to existing as well as potential customers? The idea came to me during my maternity leave in 2015: Would it not make sense to bring together all the people in this world who want to change something for the better? Leading figures who have already come a long way and young people with a vision. And so the idea for the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival was born. A festival that adds value for us as ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4, our guests and our speakers – namely meeting each other, networking, starting a dialog and jointly discussing relevant future topics.

»In keeping with my motto that “nothing is impossible,“ I always believed in our idea and passionately pursued the project.«
What was the reaction to your idea?

The good thing about us in Austria is that we are comparatively small. Decisions can therefore be made more quickly, and it is easier to try new things. Of course, some people are always sceptical about any project that breaks new ground. However, in keeping with my motto that ‘nothing is impossible,’ I always believed in our idea and passionately pursued the project. Our CEO Markus Breitenecker supported me right from the start.

What makes the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival so special, and how does it differ from similar events?

In contrast to many other major events, we cover a broad range of topics – from global meta-issues, such as international cooperation or economic developments, to the entrepreneurship sector to social questions about education, health and the environment. There is a particular focus on sustainability and social responsibility. Moreover, our festival is not aimed exclusively at startups or tech firms: We invite everyone – but especially young people – to start a dialog with us and come to the festival! This is why we also have a different pricing policy. We intentionally charge moderate B2C ticket prices and offer preferential terms for students and startups in order to give innovative and creative young minds the chance to attend. Another aspect that sets us apart is that we, as a TV group, design our festival panels according to editorial standards. It is particularly important to us that our panelists discuss controversial issues, so we also moderate every single session as if it were one of our TV talk shows!

»We invite everyone – but especially young people – to start a dialog with us and come to the festival.«
The 4GAMECHANGERS Festival is being held for the fifth time in 2020. How has it changed over the years?

While it was only an evening event in 2016, replacing the program presentation, we already organized a proper four-day festival in 2017. As I didn’t have a team of my own to support me at that time, I set up the event together with many volunteers from within the company and with a small agency. It was really done by the seat of our pants, but we made it! Over time, it has all become much more professional – also because we have better resources now. When I approached sponsors in the beginning, many didn’t know what to expect from the festival. After all, I had nothing to show them! Today, things are different: The event has garnered such public attention that many companies now actively come up to us. In addition, the festival has become much more international over the years.

»The festival would not be possible without such a great team. We all think far outside the box and provide support wherever we can.«
What can you tell us about the team behind the festival?

The core team consists of six people, including me. In addition, our colleagues from Corporate Marketing / Event have been giving us active organizational support for years. In the critical phase, i.e. around four months before the festival starts, many ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 employees also devote nearly 100% of their working hours to 4GAMECHANGERS. The festival would not be possible without such a great team. We all think far outside the box and provide support wherever we can. We are more of a family than a work team!

»Our festival needs not only conducting but also meticulous composition. We manage this every single year in loving detail and with incredible amounts of team effort.«
The team plans the festival in loving detail.
What has been your personal highlight at 4GC so far? And what have been the biggest challenges?

That’s a really hard question. There have been so many highlights! (She laughs.) I am proud of the many big names, like Randi Zuckerberg or the President of Austria, who has already joined us three times. Speakers like Patch Adams, Director of the Gesundheit! Institute and famous hospital clown, also enrich the event hugely with their selflessness. One thing is particularly important to me: Thanks to our sponsors and well-known personalities, we can also shine a spotlight on unknown projects and hidden champions. Attendees who have never heard of this particular great initiative or this particular young visionary and leave the festival with their heads full of their stories and ideas – that’s my personal highlight!

The biggest challenge has to do with the size of the festival: We had 600 speakers spread over two stages and 20 live acts in 2019, plus around 150 partners and sponsors. Orchestrating this many people truly is a challenge! Our festival needs not only conducting but also meticulous composition. We manage this every single year in loving detail and with incredible amounts of team effort.

Who would you absolutely love to bring to Vienna as a guest?

Lots of people! We have a list of top targets comprising 200 outstanding personalities. Michelle Obama is at the very top. An inspiring woman who stands up for sustainability, social responsibility and education like no other. In joint first place is Oprah Winfrey, who campaigns for the education of young girls in particular. I would also like to welcome Angela Merkel and Greta Thunberg. Or Leonardo DiCaprio, who is not only a terrific actor but also a decades-long campaigner for climate protection and sustainability. As for live acts, I would love to get Robbie Williams or Die Toten Hosen to perform at MARX Halle. And who knows, maybe we will …

“The Power of Cooperation” is the motto for 2020. What is in store for us?

Everything is better together – whether in private or professional life! We are already working hard on the program and have decided to put even more women on our panels this time. Not because of a quota, but because there are simply so many strong, female personalities who belong on the big stage! There will also be a fourth day in 2020, the 4JOBS Day. Nearly all companies are currently facing the problem of finding the right employees – we are therefore extending the festival by one day. The fourth day will be about the future of work, gender, diversity and the question of what makes a firm attractive to potential candidates. Candidates and companies will also have equal opportunities to make contact with each other. We and our German colleagues from ProSiebenSat.1 are also planning our own stand and want to take the opportunity to communicate with talented people!

One final question: Is there a connection between the festival and your parent group?

Absolutely! We cooperate closely with our German colleagues – be it on organization, press relations or our joint exhibition booth. And we are delighted to welcome many German customers every year. Our colleagues in Unterfoehring and the Executive Board give us really strong support here. Last year, for example, a German and an Austrian member of the Executive Board opened each day together!

Festival 2020
September 8 to 11, 2020
MARX Halle Vienna