The 50 Best-Funded Startups in Switzerland in One Map (and What It Means For The Startup Ecosystem)

Source: The 50 Best-Funded Startups in Switzerland in One Map (and What It Means For The Startup Ecosystem) on Startupolic

Back in 2012 as I’ve launched, I remember that almost nobody was blogging on the Swiss startup scene. Or most were abandoning the effort after a few posts. Fortunately, this has changed!

Tatjana-de-Kerros-Startup-BuilderToday I’m pleased to publish a guest post by Tatjana de Kerros-Budkov, who is currently the Startup Builder at Ricolab Innovation Lab (Ricola), Mentor, and 2x entrepreneur- with one exit under her belt- and has helped startups raise over $10M in the last 12 months. Previously, she was an entrepreneurship & innovation Advisor to the Saudi government, collaborated with 500 Startups KSA and roamed the Arabian desert building entrepreneurship & VC tech ecosystems.

Now living in Zurich- she’s passionate about showcasing Swiss tech startups- bridging ties with international VCs.

This post was initially published here.



Altogether, they’ve raised over $1.4 billion since 2015. They’re growing at an average rate of 21% and employ over 1,900 people. These are Switzerland’s best funded startups.

From Geneva, through to Zurich, I’ve mapped out the 50 of the best funded tech startups across major Swiss cities since 2015. The analysis shows not only which cities have transformed into startup tech hubs and attract the largest VC tickets, but also demonstrates the continued disparities between German and French speaking Switzerland in terms of funding and deal size.

In the midst of a ‘digital revolution’- insights into Switzerland’s most funded startups shows which sectors attract the largest investments, but also which technologies are starting to gain momentum and investor interest. Finally, as the map covers startups that have had their last funding round in the last 24 months- I have analyzed which rounds are most prevalent across regions, and their average value- giving a glimpse towards the direction in which VC, PE and CV is moving in our small innovation nation.

The investment volume among Switzerland’s 50 best funded startups ranges from $233M on the high-end of the funding spectrum for pharmaceuticals startup Novimmune to $2.4M for another pharmaceutical outlier, Memo Therapeutics.

The average amount of funding received among all the mapped-out startups is $28M, with the most prevalent round being series A– making up 38% of all rounds (or 19 rounds in total).

The most prevalent ticket-sizes range from $2M-$5M, and $10.1M- $25M among these startups across Switzerland. What does this tell us?


Firstly, it is important to note that this data will not, by default, include very early-stage seed investments. What the data does conclude however,is that if a Swiss startup that raises $2.5M makes it on the map- the Swiss ticket size of a round is generally quite low in comparison to other countries. Moreover, there are only 6 startups since 2015 that have raised more than $50M- showing a clear dearth in late-stage funding, and putting in question the exit vehicles for investors across the investment lifecycle.

So what is the average value of each round in Switzerland?

Best-funded Swiss Startups Average round

The average seed round raised by a Swiss startup is valued at $3.7M, rising by a mere million to $4.7M for a Series A. This jumps to $27.5M for a Series C, and then drops by a considerable $5M for late-stage capital- averaging $22.5M.

Did you notice a gap in the data?

Indeed- Series B are non-existent. Funding rounds just jump from A to C. Either Swiss startups are wizards at increasing their valuation overnight, or, which seems most likely- there is a gap in the market for follow-on funding- (which I’m personally placing my bets on).

From my knowledge of the Swiss VC ecosystem, the latter option seems to fit right in with current funding patterns. Investors tend to cluster in either the pre-seed and seed rounds, or later-stage funding- which at this stage becomes increasingly concentrated with corporate venturing funds.

Given the current relatively low volume of deal-flow in Switzerland, investors compete on each extreme of the funding spectrum. In the middle, not so much- and investments are riskier. However, this can also translate into a low survival rate for early-stage startups, making the trend of multiple rounds of early-stage capital obsolete and unnecessary in the current market. Either the startups perform sufficiently well to attract much larger players (and be acquired), or they die.

Which industries are Switzerland’s tech outliers disrupting?

Of course it comes as no surprise.

Among Switzerland’s 50 best-funded startups, 17 are pharmaceuticals and biotech companies (equivalent to 34%). This translates both in terms of the number of investments, as well as the overall dollar-volume- which stands just short of $1 billion ($989.2M to be precise).

But there are some surprises. Agtech startups have definitely been catching investors interest- accounting for 4 startups in our map (the second most popular sector after pharmaceuticals). This includes startups such as EPFL spin-out Gamaya ($3.2M raised) and Zurich-based aquaponics startup Urban Farmer ($5.3M raised). Although agtech startups included in this map have only raised together a total of $16.5M- I have no doubt this is set to increase.


Whilst only 3 cyber-security startups make our map-together – they raised over $90.3M, putting them in second place in terms of dollar volume behind pharmaceuticals startups.

In light of Switzerland’s thriving banking and financial industry, it comes as no surprise that 3 fintech startups make it into the map- raising $68.4M between them – of which $50M (disclosed) was raised by late-stage startup Centralway from the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Fintech is followed closely behind by SaaS startups- who make up $68.4M of investments.

Insurtech, represented by Stonestep, a ‘microinsurance-as-a-service’ startup raised $4M – the only insurtech startup on this map- but a sign that investors may soon want to start betting big in this segment. A similar heat warning can be linked to Scandit – the only marketingtech startup who makes this list- but raised $7.5M.

So which city wins the war for Switzerland’s best startups?

As small as Switzerland is- it is a country divided by language and culture- and as art imitates life, each region vies to attract the best startups, and become the country’s leading tech hub.

It must be Zurich right?

By the number of Zurich-based startups included in our map, yes, Zurich wins, accounting for 17 out of 50 startups – or 34% of Switzerland’s top 50 best-funded startups. Molecular Partners makes it top of the list, having raised a $16.6M Series C with a total investment of $76.6M- followed by Sequana Medical (another Series C pharmaceutical startup that raised $60.4M in total), and of course, fintech outlier Centralway.

Zurich is clearly strengthening it’s grip as the tech capital of Switzerland, and attracting a new breed of startups from IoT through to cleantech.

But Lausanne wins as the city to raise the largest amount of capital.

The Olympic city (in which I grew up in) and home to the world-reknowned EPFL campus comes out top in our map- with 13 startups raising $451.8M between them. In comparison, whilst Zurich startups are better represented, the city’s startups raised only $312.4M in comparison.


Geneva comes third- both in terms of startups represented, as well as investment volume ($288M) – followed by Basel, who saw 5 startups make the rank with a total of $67.2M invested.

Which leads us to question- in which city are you most likely to raise the highest round?

If you’re raising a seed round, you should head to Lausanne, who tops our map with the most seed capital at an average of $10.2M raised, closely followed by St Gallen with $9M.

Series A continues to be firmly dominated by the French-speaking side of Switzerland, with the highest average value of a round to be found again in Lausanne ($11.8M) followed closely by Geneva ($11.3M). Zurich ranks third with an average Series A round raising valued at $9.2M.


For a Series C, discrepancies between the French and Swiss-Germans remain, with Lausanne topping the map once again at $27.4M, followed by Neuchatel with $23.2M, and then Zurich at $17.8M. It is worthwhile to note however, that Luzerne-based Series C startup CeQur raised a $156.6 mega-round, that would slightly skew the data if included.

And who wins the highest late-stage funding average? Lausanne once again, at $130.5M – followed unsurprisingly by Basel – the global pharmaceuticals hub who saw its best funded late-stage startups raise an average of $39.8M – followed closely by Zurich at $32.6M. These were the only three cities nationally which have seen any late-stage investments since 2015.

What does this map tell us about the future of startup funding in Switzerland?

Unfortunately, and as I previously noted – it highlights continued discrepancies between regions – both in terms of the quality of startups created (in investors eyes) – as well as investor risk-aversion and access to capital. Most startups flock to Switzerland’s most reputed tech hubs in Lausanne and Zurich, or continue to concentrate in areas dominated by the pharmaceuticals industry (Basel). Whilst this shows that local ecosystems are strong, it also highlights that the spillover effect of access to risk capital and innovation will remain regionally constrained- at the detriment of the economic growth and diversification of other cities across Switzerland.

As I also previously highlighted, investors cluster in either seed and very early-stage rounds, or late-stage funding. There is a ‘missing middle’ for risk capital in the VC and corporate venturing industry. Which leads us to question if this may not be the cause for a number of startup deaths in Switzerland, and their failure to scale.

Finally, it is notable to underline that many of the late-stage startups included in this map raised a down-round in their subsequent funding rounds. Whilst I didn’t include this in the data (and this is definitely worth further investigation), this could by symbiotic with a nascent, and risk-adverse investor sentiment- but also the financial performance of startups (for example their difficulties to expand outside the immediate Swiss market), and an exit-market that focuses on acquisitions rather than inflated valuations.

To round-up, if you’re in pharmaceuticals, cybersecurity, fintech and digital services – startups will increasingly find investor appetite to raise capital – and contribute to Switzerland’s transformation into a digital economy.

Oh, and for you who are interested – here is the full table of the 50 best-funded startups in our alpine nation.

View the detailed list of the 50 best-funded Swiss startups

You can also find the complete list of the 50 startups hereafter.

Startup Description Total funding (MCHF)
NovImmune NovImmmune develops therapeutic monoclonal antibodies to treat patients suffering from immune-related disorders. 233
ADC Therapeutics ADC Therapeutics Secures $80m Financing to Progress its Pipeline of Antibody Drug Conjugate Therapeutics in Oncology 222.5
CeQur CeQur is developing and commercializing advanced yet simple-to-use insulin delivery devices that make it easier for people living with type 2 diabetes to adhere to therapy and stay in control of their disease. The Company’s fully optimized device, PaQ, is a three-day, wearable device that provides freedom from multiple daily insulin injections. 156.6
Molecular Partners Molecular Partners is developing an investigational drug for the treatment of retinal diseases such as wet AMD, a leading cause of blindness in the western world 76.4
NEXThink Nexthink is the innovator of Endpoint and User IT Analytics for security, ITSM and transformation. Their software provides enterprise-wide real time analytics covering all endpoints, users, applications and network connections. 66.7
Sequana Medical Sequana Medical is a Swiss medical device company providing implantable pump systems to manage fluid balance within the body. 60.4
Centralway Centralway is a Swiss company builder. Centralway operated Numbrs, a mobile-first banking app, which enables users to intelligently track and predict spending. 50
SonarSource SonarSource provides applications and services for continuous inspection of code quality 45
Polyphor Polyphor is a Swiss Pharma company focusing on the discovery and development of macrocycle drugs addressing high unmet medical needs. 39.8
Spineart Spineart is a privately held medical device company focused on simplifying the surgical act by designing, developing and promoting safe and efficient solutions to spine surgeons, operating room teams, and patients. 33.5
Sophia Genetics Sophia Genetics is a data-driven medicine company whose genetic analysis platform has been used by hundred of European hospitals to support the diagnosis of cancer patients. 31.8
Asceneuron Asceneuron develops effective therapeutics for orphan tauopathies and Alzheimer’s disease. 30.6
G-Therapeutics G-Therapeutics is developing an implantable spinal stimulation system and robot-assisted training to rehabilitate spinal-cord-injured individuals. 29.6
HYT Watches Discover HYT, the Swiss luxury watch brand revolutionising the haute horlogerie industry with a unique fluidic technology. Visit the official HYT website. 23.2
Aleva Neurotherapeutics Aleva Neurotherapeutics has developed proprietary neurostimulation technologies that enable significantly better therapies for neurological diseases. 22
Kuros Biosurgery Kuros Biosurgery develops biomaterials and bioactive biomaterial combination products for indications in trauma, wound and spine. 20.4
Solar Impulse Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft project. The aircraft are single-seat monoplanes powered by photovoltaic cells and capable of taking off under their own power. 20
Kandou Bus Kandou Bus is an innovative semiconductor technology company specializing in the the invention, design, license and implementation of high performance, energy efficient chip-to-chip links. 15
NetGuardians NetGuardians is a leading software company recognized for its revolutionary solutions to control all your operational risks. 14
Nouscom Nouscom is a biotechnology company that will develop tumor specific oncolytic viruses and patient specific cancer vaccines. 13.6
Advanon Finance your invoices instantly with Advanon, the easiest and most flexible solution for improving your liquidity. 13.4
Arktis Radiation Detectors Arktis Radiation Detectors has developed a platform technology for detecting ionizing radiation using compressed noble gas. 12.9
Ava Ava designed the world’s first smart bracelet to help track ovulation, fertile days and sleep patterns. 12.3
QGel A Lausanne, Switzerland-based biomaterials company . 12
Flisom Flisom is assembling a roll-to-roll production line to manufacture flexible solar modules 10.8
Biovotion Biovotion provides integrated solutions with connected hardware and value-added monitoring services. 10.4
ID Quantique ID Quantique is the world leader in quantum-safe crypto and leverages quantum technology in the fields of random numbers and scientific instrumentation. 9.6
Demiurge Technologies Demiurge Technologies develops the next generation of neural networks and neuromorphic chips from a rebuilt foundation of mathematics, physics and computer science. 9.5
Hulbee Hulbee AG is a software technology company delivering search, eCommerce, SaaS, cloud computing and business intelligence solutions. 9
Advanced Osteotomy Tools (AOT) AOT is a research company, pioneerinf the field of robotic bone surgery with the use of cold laser photoablation. 8.3
ProteoMediX ProteoMediX is a spinoff company of ETH Zurich and specialized in the identification of novel biomarkers for the early detection of cancer 8.1
Cellestia Biotech Swiss drug development company with focus on first-in-class targeted therapies 8
Skioo Skioo is a ski pass ticketing platform, which is integrated with the online reservation systems of numerous resorts. The company aims to make the ski industry more attractive and accessible by improving relations between skiers and ski resorts. 7.7
Scandit Scandit offers a leading barcode scanner SDK for iOS and Android developers. Quickly and easily integrate our barcode scanner SDK by getting started today! 7.5
Flyability Flyability developed Gimball – the world’s first collision-proof flying robot, which opens new applications in inspection, rescue and security. 6.8
BestMile Fleet management software for driverless vehicles 5.5
UrbanFarmers UrbanFarmers designs and operates Aquaponic rooftop farms for commercial growers and food retailers. 5.3
QualySense QualySense uses pace technologies that combine Machine Vision and Near-Infrared spectroscopy to develop the QSorter, the first artificial intelligence robot for high-speed single kernel analysis and sorting of grains. 5
Qumram Holdings Qumram enables financial institutions to record their client’s online sessions to gather information for compliance, and to collect usage data to enhance the user experience. 5
Stonestep It is a next generation insurance platform offers integrated sales and customer experience tools 4
Goodwall Goodwall is a place where young people create Good CVs to showcase the good they do to get into university or get a job. 3.3
Gamaya Gamaya is a Swiss startup active in a smart farming, responds to the need to feed 10bn people by developing unique farmland diagnostics services for industrial growers in Brazil using patented breakthrough imaging technology to capture all necessary information about physiology and chemical composition of crops in a most efficient way. 3.2
Amal Therapeutics Research and Development Cancer Vaccine 3.1
Polyneuron Polyneuron is an early stage Swiss pharmaceutical company that is committed to the development of a new drug class for the treatment of autoimmune disorders. 3.1
Hosco Hosco is a job site that provides premium connections, career advice and industry insights. 3
pCloud pCloud is your personal online storage space for your memorable photos and videos, your favorite music or important work documents 3
Biognosys Biognosys was founded in 2008 and is a privately held company in Zurich, Switzerland. 3
ecoRobotix Discover our autonomous robot with precise herbicide application. 3
DBS System Hemaxis is a medical device technology platform for micro blood sampling with passive plasma separation and accurate volume control 2.5
Memo Therapeutics Memo Therapeutics AG develops and applies innovative antibody technologies that are based on its novel, disruptive technology for the display of complete antibodyomes, MemoMAB. 2.4

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Should You Write a Business Plan?

Source: Should You Write a Business Plan? on Startupolic

Writing a business plan at the time of the lean startup sounds like a weird idea. No?

Many people think that writing a business plan is no more needed. Which is true and… wrong, at the same time!
Writing a complete business plan per se is not needed, especially if you:
  • just have an idea;
  • have not done your homework with the Value Proposition Canvas and the Business Model Canvas;
  • are dreaming your project instead of starting it (yeah, there are many wannabe entrepreneurs around there)!
  • have not discussed with any potential customer;

Among other ones, these are reasons not to write a business plan. Of course, when you’re starting a project, you should have a rough idea about the potential market. But you should start by focusing on the pains faced by your target customers. And trying to figure out how to solve them.

A business plan is time intensive: starting from scratch, it takes at least 50 hours to write it. If you have already done it and know what to include in it. Of course, if you need to proceed to an extended market research, it’s not enough. Time is the most valuable asset entrepreneurs have and therefore, you need to carefully think about why you should (or not) write your business plan now. If it is to raise money… yes, it’s a valid reason. But again, think about the cost of opportunity (how much you could achieve during this time – how many prospects you could call or meet?). To invest this time, you should have a decent probability of getting this money!

The most frustrating in writing a business plan is that the moment you click “save to PDF”, the document is already outdated. Why? Because if (and only if) you have already started, things are moving fast. You may have more offers to do, received great news about a potential partners, an employee could have resigned, etc.

In my experience reading many business plans over the past 10 years (a bit less this pas year), the biggest learning you get is to understand how the founder / the company thinks and sees the opportunity. How the founder writes and the completeness of the business plan tell you probably more than the actual words contained in the document. You can also understand quickly if the founder understands all business skills required to start a business.

Forget about the solidity of the financial projections. Institutional investors (Venture Capital) want to see a business which has the potential to be make CHF 50M turnover or to be sold for CHF 100M. Which makes your financial projections quite a bit hard to believe. Almost all business plans that I’ve seen reach sales of CHF 40-50M at year t+5, which is OK if you’re a startup that should be able to scale (as every startup – if a new business has not the potential to scale, people should stop to name it “a startup”). The reality is somehow different, however ;-)!

A common “rule” among investors is to divide the sales projections by 2 (or 3) and postpone them from one year. If you’re not bankrupt or stopping the project in the mean time, you’ll see that’s often not wrong. Unfortunately! Doing financial projections is a great exercice for the founder, however. It makes you think about scalability and the key elements of your potential exponential growth. It also shows quickly if you have an idea of the business or not (I remember reading a business plan projecting a CHF 100M turnover at 2nd (!) year after starting up – immediately discredited and I’ve probably not spent more time reading it!). Many entrepreneurs hate this financial projections exercice. As you do not really know. A 12 months budget is always more accurate (at least on the costs side!).

As my old friend André, certified public accountant, told me once is that

“A budget is a correct addition of wrong numbers!”

So, why should you write one?
A business plan serves to think about strategy and show your roadmap. To investors, but also to all potential stakeholders (employees, partners, etc.).

I’ve discovered an interesting Visme infographic from startup mentor Jon Westenberg, where he emphasized the importance of writing a business plan even if you’re just a startup. He gave helpful tips on how you and your team can write it.

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16 tourism startups to discover at World Tourism Forum 17

Source: 16 tourism startups to discover at World Tourism Forum 17 on Startupolic

Each year beginning of May, more than 500 CEOs, Ministers and investors from the tourism industry meet in Luzern for the World Tourism Forum. The Forum aims in gathering global leaders of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries to learn about the new development and brainstorm on how to adapt to the changes happening. And to meet startups !

This year, World Tourism Forum is organizing a Startup Innovation Camp (coaching day with presentation to the jury) the day before the forum. Among 170+ applications coming from all over the world (more than 50 countries), 16 finalists were selected, segmented in 4 categories : Impact, Transaction, Destination and Hospitality. The finalists come from Europe (Cyprus, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, the UK), Asia (India, Sri Lanka) and the USA.

They were selected by a jury leaded by well-known Swiss entrepreneur and investor Roland Zeller (founder of, comprising Sam Friend (experienced executive, investor and entrepreneur, and, Amel Karboul (former Minister of Tourism in Tunisia), Axel Schulze (serial entrepreneur and leading a startup accelerator) and René Zeier (co-head of Smart-Up programme at University of Applied Sciences and Arts Lucerne).

I’ll be attending the World Tourism Forum (as you probably know by now, I have a strong interest in travel and tourism with Planify!) this year, so do not hesitate if you’d like to grab a coffee!

The 16 tourism startups are the following:

Bidroom (category « Transaction») is a revolutionary private hotel-booking platform that generates direct reservations without charging any commission and provides the best rates for guests.

CityStasher (category « Destination ») is a digital platform for left luggage, connecting travelers with local businesses who store their bags for 60% less than station facilities.

Daytrip (category « Transaction») is a platform for traveling with local drivers who drive them from one city to another, exploring sights along the way that would otherwise be difficult to reach using traditional public transportation.

Green City Solutions (category « Impact») addresses the global problem of air pollution by combining a special, vertical installed moss culture with internet-of-things technology.

Hello Here (category « Hospitality») is a platform designed to improve hosts-guests engagement and upsell on-demand services provided by hosts in short term rentals

Hospitality Leaders (category « Hospitality») is a hospitality industry community portal aggregating a global candidate pool enabling digital talent management and recruitment for the hospitality industry worldwide.

Hypermedia Interactive Services (category « Impact») is a Startup that has developed a bespoke learning and performance ecosystem solution in sustainable practices for the hospitality industry.

Global Himalayan Expedition (category « Impact») is focused towards providing clean energy, digital education and wireless connectivity access to remote Himalayan communities through impact tourism.

Orbirental (category « Hospitality») is a SaaS Technology platform that enables vacation rental management companies to streamline and scale their business through automation and integration.

Swiss Institute (category « Impact») is a game changer in developing tourism and skills in Sri Lanka and South Asia.

Paris Helpline (category « Destination ») service is the first tourism travelers caring service aimed at any major destination of the world.

Servantrip (category « Hospitality») is the first e-Commerce Global platform that allows local “drivers, travel guides, interpreters, and legal advice” to access easily to international clients.

Tastemakers Africa (category « Destination ») is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book epic experiences in African cities.

TimeLooper (category « Destination ») is a global augmented virtual reality production and content distribution company that specializes in the development and delivery of immersive experiences.

WeTravel (category « Transaction») is the payment platform for multi-day group tours. Thousands of travel companies, yoga retreat leaders and student trip organizers use WeTravel to collect funds and manage group trips.

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Get The Money!

Source: Get The Money! on Startupolic

Startups and money.

It’s a secret for nobody that money is scarce when you’re launching your startup. Even if the Swiss Venture Capital Report shows an interesting growth in startup funding over the 3 last years, with almost a doubling of the funds invested in Swiss startups. About CHF 900M were invested in 2016. Which can be seen as a great sign for entrepreneurs, but which is in the same time…ridiculous. At least if we speak about digital startups (fintech included), which represent about 30% of this amount. This total includes massive funding rounds (80-100M) in the life sciences industry, which is a bit hiding the rest. But it’s ridiculous if we compare to London startups (mostly digital), which raised… EUR 1.32 billion in the first 6 months of 2016!

I was discussing with another startup founder the other day and he told me that his feelings and observations about the current startup hype (it’s cooler than ever to do a startup – like it or… not!): everybody seems to be looking for funding and if you cannot raise money, you’re failing. Of course, it’s all but not true. Fundraising is a mean for a goal. Not a goal in itself! And there is still this misconception about writing a 20 pages business plan to show that you actually have a plan. But this business plan is outdated as soon as you freeze it into a PDF (if not, that means you haven’t started executing!). If you spend one week (that’s more or less what it takes) to write a business plan, it should be for something. Something that should generate a real Return On Investment. Have you ever thought about how many potential customers you can meet or even simply contact during a full week? One week probably allows you to have 20-30 meetings. And reach out to about a hundred potential customers. What is your choice?


I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to raise money. But the effort is huge and the reality is… that you have very little chance to raise enough money to make a real difference. In my humble opinion, there are mainly two types of startups:

  • the ones with deep technical innovation and/or IP (patents)
  • the other, which have an interesting innovation, but not highly defendable

The first one requires generally a lot of money even early on. The second one can make progress with less money, but has to go ways faster to take over a market. If you’re in the second category, you’d rather invest your time in customers to get traction (and raise funding after, to fuel the growth). Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time with nice guys who will never invest.

You need to have a clear understanding of the type of startup you are managing.

An alternative way of funding

Have you thought about startup awards to fund your startup? Yes, it can be a viable solution, at least for some time. In Switzerland, we have seen the health tech company Abionic over-succeeding in this strategy some years ago. A great innovation with a lot of IP, a CEO able to deliver a great pitch and explaining simply what problems they were going to solve. That’s how they were able to get a lot of grants to survive to the early days post-university (remark: I do not know  the details of their strategy and this time, I was (and still am) just an external observer). They were simply impressive. Startups fighting at the same startups awards had less chance to win, just because the “opponent” was too good.

Have you ever thought about awards to fundraise your startup, or at least to help you move forward?

If you’ve decided to follow this strategy, you need to realize that it’s not that easy, too. It’s the jungle out there and everybody is fighting to survive (and ultimately grow). Participating to startup awards takes also some time, as you need to have a great story to pitch (and to TRAIN*TRAIN*TRAIN) as well as the documentation (remember the Business Plan above…) ready. The good side of awards are that you can gain free press coverage, some credibility and fall under investors (and sometimes customers) radar. If you win (or at least are in the nominees), of course. What happens if you never win? It can also alter your image: if your startup is participating to every possible award and judges keep seing your application (and maybe with not that much progress over the months), they may flag you as a loser. And you’re just wasting time in applying everywhere.

There’s a good thing about the “startup hype”: there are more and more cash prizes available in awards. So if you spend a bit of time browsing the web, you’ll probably find an award corresponding to your startup!

Fintech Awards

If you read me for a while, you may know that I was in charge of launching the first fintech accelerator of Switzerland, Fintech FUSION. I remember quite well the rise of Fintech in Switzerland (read: The Waking Up of FinTech in Switzerland) and the trendiness of the topic, back in 2015. Fintech and then blockchain were hype at this time. Then, the term Insurtech popped out and that was the new trendy topic, coupled with the apparition of chatbots based on messenging platforms. Now I’ve seen that new terms are popping up, like Proptech (property-tech). I remember also quite well categorising the various Fintech sub-segments (we limited to… 15!). That’s a good thing for startups to find a suitable accelerator or award.

When we hear about Fintech, the most common cities we think about, at Fintech capital, are London, New York, Singapour, Zürich or Frankfurt… We hear less about Luxembourg. Rightly or wrongly. As well as it’s a small city, there is a vibrant financial activity out there. Nasir Zubairi says about Luxembourg:

“FinTech firms can’t overlook Luxembourg as a financial services powerhouse. Luxembourg is the largest finance centre in continental Europe, the largest fund management sector outside of the US and the global leader in cross-border funds. It is home to over 140 banks and is a leader in the insurance sector.”

And they have very interesting initiatives to foster everything digital and financial. KPMG and LHoFT (Luxembourg House of Financial Technology) have joined force for the second edition of the “Fintech Awards Luxembourg“. There is EUR 50’000.- for the winner, as well as some other cool prizes (like a one-week immersion into Silicon Valley) and the opportunity to pitch in front of potential high-qualified customers. 15 startups will be selected and invited to present on June 28th. Application deadline is really soon: 1st of May 2017 (so you’d better not wait to apply, even more than it takes literally 5 minutes to apply).


Last but not least, here is a quote from Tiphaine about Fintech Awards Luxembourg (who was one of the winner last year and that we selected for the 2nd batch of FUSION):

“FinTech Awards Luxembourg accelerated our growth and brought our name to the ears of several large banks.”



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Why Your Daughter Probably Won’t Be a Startup Founder in Switzerland

Source: Why Your Daughter Probably Won’t Be a Startup Founder in Switzerland on Startupolic


Lea-von-bidder-Swiss-startup-founder This is a guest post by Lea von Bidder, co-founder and President of Ava Science, a Swiss startup based in Switzerland and California. 

Lea published this post originally  on her Linkedin profile on Thursday 8th of March, the Women Day, and I thought this kind of excellent content should be spread as widely as possible… Do not hesitate to comment and to contribute with your opinion or ideas on how to change the problem Lea is describing!

As a female founder from Switzerland I am constantly prompted with questions about “How it feels to be a female founder”. The truth is, it feels a little lonely.

At investor events, I am often the only woman in the room. But it’s hard to reconcile this feeling when I read statistics like the one StartupTicker released on the Global Startup Monitor: Switzerland has an equal proportion of male and female entrepreneurs in the 15-64 age groups. More precisely, the report shows that 49% of nascent ventures were started by women. And goes on stating that “To sum up, the rate of women entrepreneurship in Switzerland is already well on track”

How did I miss all these women at those investor events? Those statistics don’t match my experience. In fact, I fear they paint a much rosier picture of the state of gender diversity in the Swiss startup ecosystem than reality. So I took it as a call to action to finally cross a long-term to-do off my list: Find out how big the gender gap in the Swiss startup ecosystem actually is.

To spoil the surprise: It’s big. And that should worry you. It definitely worries me.

Entrepreneurship: Apples and … Apples? Choosing your sources

The Federal Statistical Office (BFS) states that in 2014, 36% of companies were founded by women and another 9% had female/male mixed teams. And while those numbers paint a progressive picture, they include all companies, from the bakery next door to the hottest API startup. This is also true for the Global Startup Monitor data.

Entrepreneurship comes in various and wonderful forms and I couldn’t be more excited about how well women are doing overall. But to define the gender gap in the Swiss startup ecosystem we need to look separately at the types of startups that have ambitious goals to be recognised on the global stage. Those are mostly built on technology, raise venture capital and show a strong growth.

I decided to look at the data we get from the “Top 100 startups” report, a yearly report published by IFJ, Handelszeitung and PME Magazine which highlights the “best emerging companies, the ones Switzerland is pinning its hopes on to spread Swiss innovation throughout the world”.

I analysed the Top 50 startups in the 2016 report. Finding out who the founders are in a company is sometimes harder than it sounds. I used LinkedIn, Websites and Press coverage. Feel free to cross-check and correct data in this link.

Fewer Female Founders than Female Board Members

Only 9%, or 11 out of 108 total founders of the Top 50 startups are women. We all know 9% is low. But it’s so low, it even makes the Top100 companies in Switzerland look good who have women represented at 16% in their boards. Yes, this seems to be the first time the Swiss startup ecosystem actually has to look up to the corporates.

10 out of the eleven female founders work in different startups. Only one startup has two female founders (GO Glycemion AG!). That means 1 in 5 Swiss Top50 startups have at least one female founder.

4 out of the 50 companies analysed, or 8%, have female CEOs. Interestingly, half of those are solo female founders, making it less a choice but a necessity to appoint themselves as CEO. Only 20% of companies with a mixed female/male founder team have appointed the or a woman as CEO. Here at least the Swiss startup ecosystem is a step ahead of the SMI companies which had zero female CEOs in 2016. Yes, you read that right: Zero.

Female-founders-in-Swiss-startups-Lea-von-BidderNow, why should you care?

Well now that we have established that the likelihood of your daughter being a startup founder is dramatically lower than your sons, let’s establish why you should care.

  1. Those startups are (part of) the future of the Swiss economy. The gender gap of startups today is the gender gap of the big companies they will turn into tomorrow. We admire the way visionary companies disrupt the status quo–why can’t we also disrupt the old gender roles?
  2. Startups have limited resources, little time and a thousand things to do simultaneously. That’s why they love hiring in their network. Fact is, men have usually a more male-oriented network than women- making men their easiest hiring choice. A gender gap in the founder team directly translates in a gender gap of the team as a whole.
  3. Those male startup employees might then go to found companies on their own – further increasing the gender gap.
  4. Successful founders are future investors. A gender gap of founders intensifies the gender gap of startup investors (The gender gap among investors will fill an entire article on it’s own). And since investors are more likely to fund companies that solve a problem they understand firsthand, companies that solve problems that are unique to women will always be at a disadvantage.
  5. Startup founders are an important resource for other, newer founders. The bigger the gender gap the more those founder networks turn into “Big Boys” networks to which early female founders don’t have access. The gender gap increases.
  6. Startup founders need mentors. And when new female founders are looking for an experienced mentor, there aren’t many female founders to choose from. Having so few female founders means that today’s young female founders don’t have someone to turn to when it comes to the unique challenges of being a female founder. And they don’t have many role models of women who succeeded despite the odds being against them.
  7. The increase of sexism in Silicon Valley is attributed to the male-dominated tech scene. Switzerland doesn’t need it’s own #deleteuber
  8. In an ecosystem where we all complain about the lack of startups, we have untapped talent sitting right under our noses.

Great. You care. What’s next?

Gender gaps, whether in salaries, engineering degrees or in startups are complex and there is no magic fix. This post will therefore not explore the multifaceted circumstances that created this situation in Switzerland and everything that needs to change. But I have one request: We need better data.

Big Data? Small Data? Really, just any Data.

How can you fix something that you can’t even see? How can you improve metrics you never measured? If you are reading this, know that it’s not my favourite hobby to lurk on founders’ LinkedIn profiles and press releases to uncover their gender. I live in California after all (there are beaches to go to…). I did this because I could not find any better data. Or, am I missing something? Remember, the only data we have prompts media outlets to write this: “To sum up, the rate of women entrepreneurship in Switzerland is already well on track”

My data isn’t great. In fact, I’m convinced you will find mistakes (Please do find them!). But we all carry a responsibility to understand how we contribute to the gender gap. So I urge you to all start measuring and assessing your involvement. And based on what you find, you can decide for yourself if and how to take action by implementing measurable, clear KPI’s for you and your organisation.

My first request goes out to all the extremely helpful organisations in Switzerland. Namely: IFJ, Venturelab, Digital Switzerland, WomenWays and all the others: Please start including diversity data in your reports. You have the perfect data to understand these numbers, analyse the trends and help us, as an ecosystem, to learn how we can improve. I am aware of attempts like the European Startup Monitor, but self-reported voluntary data doesn’t paint an accurate picture.

Investors, Take a look at your portfolio and see how many female founders you have supported this year and ten years ago. Understand and help us understand how we can make female-founded companies more successful. And set yourself targets on how to improve those metics in the coming years.

Founders, have a look at your team and board to assess the gender gap in your organisation. I am well aware that hiring and assembling a board is hard enough without gender limitations. But not measuring and acting on this from the beginning on will accumulate “culture debt” that you have to work on very hard to fix in a few years.

Associations, Foundation and Competitions: Assess how many female-founded companies you have awarded and how that has changed over the years. You don’t even need a quota for the winner, but set yourself KPI’s in how many applications you want from female founder companies and actively seek those.

Press, your role in this is crucial. Your coverage is decisive in promoting the role models young girls desperately need. Your numbers and your assessment of the Swiss Startup ecosystem counts. Your role is to make us all aware of these real numbers and remind us all relentlessly of this challenge we have yet to solve.

I know the Swiss startup system is yet in its infancy and it’s tempting to put this issue off for another few years until “we have solved the real issues” such as investment availability and regulations. But the gender gap is a vicious circle that is hard to stop. And the wheels are already turning. We need to pay attention to this now.

We are in this together and we all want the same thing: An open, successful and equal Swiss startup ecosystem that helps us build the future of the Swiss economy. Please share your ideas in the comments or send me a message.

Many people have commented Lea’s article on Linkedin, which you can find here. Hereafter, you’ll find my reaction to Lea’s blog post.

You’re completely right: unfortunately, the Swiss tech ecosystem is ways to much a man world. I was shocked in 2014 as a Venture Leader USA that there was only one woman (Borislava Palanchova) in the team… I do not really know what are the cause of this gender gap. But during my 9 years on the Swiss Startup scene, I’ve seen that there is even a very high gap in Startup Weekends (70-80% of participants are men).

Why? I do not know. Honestly. It’s the reality. And here there is IMHO no discrimination. I’ve heard sometimes than women are different (of course you are!) and do not want to pitch in front of males. And better feel among women… Still not really got the point by now (…) as I think gender is not the #1 reason of success or failure, and we all live in a jungle where we have to fight to survive. Maybe someone has a view on this?

On another hand, you get a lot of questions because you are a female founder. It’s wrong. You should NOT get this kind of question because… it’s not a question. You are simply a smart person who want to change the world. Or at least part of it. You’re a role model for young women, showing that you can succeed in this kind of men world. But you do not want to be considerate differently because your are a woman. Your skills and your personality matter more, right?

Lastly, lack of women on Swiss startup scene is a problem, that’s true. My own experience backs your point: I started my company with 2 male founders of my network, and did not look for diversity at this time. How can I change things now? I have realized that I tend, in recruiting, to have a bias: I try as much as possible to hire women. But not only because they are women. But with comparable skills, I’ll favorite the girl (sorry, men!). So my little contribution to gender equality is that we will increase the percentage of women from 0% to 25% 14.5% of the company (growing from 6 to 8 7 people). Step by step!

The post Why Your Daughter Probably Won’t Be a Startup Founder in Switzerland appeared first on Startupolic.

5 Years of Blogging

Source: 5 Years of Blogging on Startupolic

January 2012. January 2017. just turned 5 years old. It’s incredible how fast time is running out ! It’s time for celebration!

Why I started blogging

In one of my previous life, I used to be a startup coach and business developer for a technology park, lost in Northwestern Switzerland (in canton of Jura). My mission was to discover promising startups and try to attract them there, with a local economic development mission: bring and create high qualified jobs there. I was travelling across Switzerland, attending almost every startup event I could (years ago, it was still manageable !), trying to bring as much value as I could. With the underlying goal of convincing entrepreneurs to relocate to Jura (which was not a sinecure, I have to admit – but it worked out to some extend). I was meeting many people of the Swiss startup ecosystem, from professional investors to first-time entrepreneurs, from startup coaches to foundations. I had the chance to meet many entrepreneurs who eventually became friends: Arnaud Bertrand (Housetrip), Tej Tadi (founder of the Swiss unicorn MindMaze), Adrian Locher (DeinDeal), Pascal Mathis (GetYourGuide), Marc Bernegger (Amiando, etc.) – to mention only the most famous (sorry for all the other ones !).

I was meeting first-time and serial entrepreneurs on an almost daily basis. Most of the time, I was learning more from founders than I was « teaching » them. This just always impressed me. Man, I was learning so much. And, sometimes, I realized that obvious things (for me) I was telling were… finally not that obvious at all. I realized that I, Sébastien, was not scalable. Not that I did not want to meet people anymore. If you’ve already met me, you know that I truly believe in real-life interactions.

How could I reach more people?

At that time, I was an avid reader of AVC and BothSidesOfTheTable (well, I’m still a huge fan of Fred Wilson and Mark Suster – but now I allow me NOT TO read every post they share !). For about a year, I had this crazy idea in my head to start blogging about startups in Switzerland. Why about startups? Because it’s one of my passion. And passion is everything in life, right?

Early January 2012, I decided that it was time to start. Finally. I needed a name (the easiest way would have been to name it « Sebastien Flury’s blog » – but well, I thought I could do better than that…). I’m someone who loves to play on words and thought: find something that express everything (and yeah, tell who I am) while be funny. Startup and workaholic? You name it. Startupolic was born!

As you know, Switzerland is a multi-languages country, with German, French and Italian. In which language should I blog (hum, unfortunately, I can’t speak Italian)? English was for me an evidence. Even though I knew that I would probably not reach as many people as if I’d be writing in German or French. But English is the language of business and the one to make Swiss startup scene visible to the rest of the world. Because there are many things happening in this amazing country and Switzerland is not often under the radar!

So, my defined target audience was (and still is) a « niche audience squared » (startups times English)… Anyway, I thought the idea of blogging about startups in Switzerland was still cool!

I bought my domain name on January 9th and decided I wanted to publish the same week. I asked a friend (thank you Raphael!) to design me a little logo and to choose some colors related to my topic, startups. I was not aware of how to build a blog at this time, and I did my MVP (Minimum Viable Product) with tumblr. Which was too limited if you were using the basic version and pre-built templates, but ways enough to start. If nobody would ever read what I had to say, at least, I would have started quickly.

I had a name. I had a logo. I had a platform. I also had kind of an audience (my twitter followers – which was growing up slowly as I have never been a fan of « following back »). All I still needed to do was… to start publishing! Of course, I had already written down dozen blog post ideas. For anyone who want to start blogging: don’t just write down titles, write at least half a dozen complete articles in advance!

I published my first ever blog post on January 12th, 2012. Presenting myself (My First Steps on Swiss Startup Scene). Simply. I was checking my Google Analytics very often, to see if I had someone reading… not many, but there were some people on it! First check! And at this time, startupticker was not widely spread to leverage it to attract some visitors interested by startups.

I then had a very intense publishing schedule, with about 2 blog posts a week. It started to grow, slowly.

Even if decided not to cover startup news (well, I’m not a journalist, doing my blog alongside my entrepreneurial activities…), I had this first AHA moment 6 weeks into startupolic existence. I was participating to Swiss Startup Camp in Basel and attended a session from DeinDeal founder Adrian Locher. He explained their project of opening a new kind of incubator, directly hosted and sponsored by DeinDeal. As they were no other startup bloggers around (we are still, 5 years after, a very small community in Switzerland), except Jan from, I thought « this is my chance to get some easy traffic! ». And I was right, I was the first to tell about the initiative. I got some additional traffic, from people who were not following me at this time. Extending my audience: check.

I felt that I just used a cool news to get me some publicity, but could I qualify myself as a blogger? Not really. Or at least not to my definition of a blogger. I realize now that I did not define at this time what kind of blogger I wanted to be. I hadn’t made any real plan, as crazy as it sounds. When you say as an entrepreneur, that it’s not for the destination that you create things, but for the journey… that’s exactly what I have done with

A couple of months later, I wanted to attend a tech conference in Berlin (Next) and thought: why not asking for a media pass? What are the criteria to get accepted? It was the first time I had to « sell » as a « leading startup blog in Switzerland ». It worked out, I got my pass without having to sell too hard. Check. And what an experience! This conference made an amazing job to build a bloggers community, proposed some amazing huge Airbnb flats to have all bloggers in it… I had the chance to learn more about the reality of fellow international bloggers (who were doing it with a strategy, for months, sometimes for years). We had fun and engaged discussions with people like Guilhem Bertholet (a well-known French entrepreneur & blogger), Adelina Peltea (a Romanian blogger, who was writing a book and who ultimately, one year later, introduced me to the management of dance superstar INNA – you just never know what can come out of networking!) and Dimitris Kalogeropoulos (Greek blogger and social media expert), to name a few. I realized that blogging could be more than an experiment and a hobby. I should have a strategy. Or at least, define an editorial guideline. I had it already in mind, but never thought too much about it: provide value to Swiss Startup scene. And try to make the scene shine / be visible outside of the country. And I did (and still do) not want to publish startup news: no need to send me press releases, it won’t get read. Why? I do not have the bandwidth to handle them professionally and do not want to be this kind of blogger.

At the same time, was starting to grow, with support of professional journalists and backing from CTI (Swiss Federal Commission for Technology & Innovation). My positioning ended to be right for me and regarding the rising « competition ». Even though if we are not really competing, if you can be the first to tell about something interesting, you’d like to get the credit for it. But rapidity is the key if you’d like to be in the news business, which is something you need to be fully dedicated to, otherwise it does not work.

In 2012, I had a good dose of emotions and realized the power of blogging: nobody is unreachable. If you’re launching a startup, you may (or should) have heard about Brad Feld, one of the founders of TechStars. Entrepreneur and investor. Author of many must-read startup books. I had this simple idea of writing a post on which investors you definitely need to follow and listed Brad. People like when you suggest them great sources of content. But what amazed me was to get a comment notification, from Brad Feld himself ! Not just liking a tweet or so. But doing the effort of coming on my blog and commenting, simply telling: « keep shouting it » (what I keep doing here!).

I also met Liam Boogar at WebSummit 2012, an American who wanted to shake the French startup ecosystem with his RudeBaguette blog. I found a lot of similarities between our mindsets, except that he had a real plan and a full dedication to making RudeBaguette THE French tech blog, as well as expand his blog throughout Europe. He told me I could even be his Swiss editor in the future. But as I was starting my startup Coteries (we were doing « mobile fans club for musicians », but we’ve pivoted the company end 2014 into a MVP/prototyping lab) and I couldn’t invest more time being an editor.

And now ?

We are now many years after the early days of I’ve learnt so much. Blogging is kind of part of my DNA, now. What kind of benefits blogging brought me ? Some recognition and personal branding (when people tell « this guy knows something about startups ! »), building a (small) brand from scratch and the fun of experimenting, improving my writing skills in English and finally how to design and write lasting content… to name just a few benefits of blogging !

I’ve learnt so much, both from blogging and from starting my own company, which we have been able to turn into a running business. And where we constantly think about and develop new ideas/products. We have even been able to develop internally a new startup (not spun off so far) without spending time to convince investors (what a huge time saving !) but focusing on customers: Planify. Basically, Planify is a service to get rid of PDF and paper brochures when you’re doing a group travel (or workshop). You share it now on Planify mobile application, which your participants always have on them when taking part to the program.

In the past 24 months, I also had the chance of being recruited to launch the first Swiss Fintech Accelerator, Fintech FUSION. It was in parallel of my entrepreneurial journey. What a challenge! I just ended my duty as Program Director (which was not only about the program, but about everything to run and promote an acceleration program!) and am now fully back to my own venture. To grow them. And hopefully, I’ll have again a bit more time to blog on 2016 was my least productive year of blogging, with only 19 blog posts (but with a best-seller ever: « The Zürich (Swiss) Startup Paradox »). I’ll dedicate more time to blogging this year.

2016 has seen some new blogging and persistent initiatives in Switzerland. Finally.

My friend Christian Hirsig, a Berner like me (you’d be suprized how many people from canton of Bern work and launch startups…), has started a serie of video interviews of famous Swiss startup founders, on Swisspreneur. In German, even Swiss German… but with English sub-titles, to make it available universally !).

I’ve also met last week Cédric Bollag, from Global Tech Box. Never heard about him before he tagged me on social media, because of a listing (about top startup bloggers in Switzerland – I was not even aware of this ranking). We had a nice conversation and learnt to know each other. As Christian, he’s also interviewing startup founders and publishing videos (which is, BTW, an extremely powerful media). We agreed we are not competitors (and we have different agendas!) and that we should meet again or try to collaborate. You may discover some of his video interviews from time to time on!


What has changed in Swiss Startup Ecosystem in the past 5 years

That’s about 9 years that I am part of the Swiss Startup ecosystem now and the changes have been massive. In the past 5 years, Switzerland has seen a strong development of the scene and many – also private ones – initiatives have been launched. Startup Weekends and Hackathons are now widely known and take place everywhere across Switzerland. Startups are more and more an option for young graduates, because people realize they can do an impact and make sense of their life, without waiting years and years to get a promotion in the corporate world. Startups got hype. Not always a good thing, as the word is over-used and most of the time not appropriate (selling stuff online does not make you a startup founder).

But there are ways more people trying to start a business than 5 years ago. What does it mean for the scene? There are more and more people with the right mindset to hire! For growing startups or for corporates (even if they are still more reluctant to hire failed entrepreneurs, they are realizing that they should go deeper into digitization). Or serial entrepreneurs like Ralph Rimet, who get hired as intrapreneur / head of innovation lab in traditional companies.

Co-working spaces have become common and widely spread across the country, which were far from the norm just 5 years ago. Switzerland now counts awesome places like ImpactHUB Sihlquai (for instance), where you can really feel the pulse of the Swiss entrepreneurial spirit (5 years ago, you had to go to Technopark and the likes, but without the energizing cool atmosphere you find in co-working hubs).

Switzerland was late in launching accelerators, but has welcomed 4 different new initiatives in the past 18 months (Fintech FUSION, Mass Challenge Switzerland, Kickstart Accelerator and HEC Lausanne Accelerator).

VC funds in the digital industry are now also available (with Polytech Ecosystem Ventures with  new fund of about CHF 40M, existing CHF 100M fund from Redalpine Venture Partners, serial entrepreneur Jean-Pierre Rosat launching 4FOVentures). It is not easier to get funded, but at least some new money is flowing into the scene. Compared to the quantity of money available in Switzerland, it’s still peanuts. But initiatives like the Swiss Venture Fund has been launched and prominent guys of the scene like Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier and Christian Wenger are pushing hard to close it in the coming 18 months.

What is also impressive with Switzerland is the capacity of the country to welcome a lot of new immigrants and the resilience of the economy to the surrounding crisis (not saying that some industries are not heavily hurt). It’s comforting for people living here, but in the same time, it still has a perverse effect on the « hunger to succeed ». In my humble opinion, Switzerland’s startup ecosystem has made a massive progress, but still needs to improve to compete with leading startup hubs (with more money flowing in and with startups growing here). We cannot be Silicon Valley (it’s unique) or even London. But I strongly believe there is a Swiss way of doing innovation and scaling companies from here.

For this to happen, we still need a wide understanding that our top position is not there for ever, and that Switzerland needs yet to invest massively in digitization. We start (!) to hear it from top politicians since last Summer… finally.

To summarize the situation, Pierre Maudet, in charge of the economy in canton of Geneva, has a great quote:

« Swiss people stand up early, but wake up late ! »

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Pitch Me If You Can! Startupolic Office Hours Are Back

Source: Pitch Me If You Can! Startupolic Office Hours Are Back on Startupolic

As a reader of, you probably know that I’m a big fan of the pay it forward culture. Or said differently, give before you get.

Last year, I did a first experiment by giving 30min to any founder (no selection here) who wanted to pitch me her project, or simply ask me some questions about starting up, about lean startup or about how to build a (digital) product. I’ve simply tried it for fun. And it was! It went beyond my expectations, as I was fully booked, even had to add extra slots. There was a lot of interesting discussions, with people who were just starting up. Or who were considering the startup way after having built state-of-the art technology during their PhD. The title (“pitch me if you can!”) is quite pompous and bit provocative, I know… I was simply expecting some discussions in form of Q&A, but I was impressed by a fellow entrepreneur who prepared herself (yes, a female tech startup founder – it’s rare in Switzerland but it exists) and who came to me for a rehearsal of a pitch she had to do at a conference. And who told me that she’ll register again for my next session, as “I’ve brought her ton of value” (she said, not me). Hope you’re still reading startupolic ;-)! What she got, in a few words: real feedback without putting gloves!

Sometimes it can be hurting to hear that. But I think it’s ways better than all these bullshit words (aka “great pitch”, “awesome”, “amazing”)  you hear at most of your pitches… from people who will never follow up nor investing real money (I’m not telling you I can invest money, sorry!). The truth is that an investor will almost never tell you “NO”. He’ll keep a call option open (here’s what it mean from a startup investor: he keeps the opportunity to review your case again and potentially invest). Telling you its inner thinking will make you remove him from your list of potential investors to contact. If you prove the investor wrong (you have proved the business model with paying customers for instance, or proved you can scale), he’ll be happy to hear you again…

I’d like to renew the experiment before Christmas and that’s why I’ll make me available for the second edition of the startupolic office hours.

If you want to:

  • pitch me (anything) and get my feedback (however: I’m not an investor, so don’t expect me to write a check);
  • how to define your MVP (Minimum Viable Product);
  • how to build your prototype;
  • to talk about growth hacking, digital marketing;
  • to learn how to bootstrap your startup in Switzerland;
  • discuss business development, marketing and sales;
  • discuss the innovation landscape and startup scene in Switzerland (and abroad)
  • or just want to meet for a coffee…

… book your 30-minutes slot right now!keep-calm-and-come-to-office-hours

You can meet me at EPFL Innovation Park on:

  • Friday 25th of November, between 13:00 and 14:30: BOOK ME!
  • Friday 16th of December, between 13:00 and 14:30: BOOK ME!

Or you can meet me at Fintech FUSION on November 30th, from 09:30 to 10:30. BOOK ME in Geneva!

 And if you’d like me to organize an office hours in Zürich or in Biel/Bienne, let me know!

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