Labster and Yukka Lab break the mold


Although it is still quite uncommon for startups to be bi-national from the very start their number is slowly rising. Two such startups are Labster and Yukka Lab, who participated in this year’s Kickstart program. The accelerator helped them strengthen their presence and network in Switzerland.


The edtech startup Labster has developed a software platform, which enables VR simulations of laboratories in order to teach life sciences to students. Six years after the startup was founded, approximately 200 organizations globally – and this October alone over 30’000 students – use Labster’s simulations. The team meanwhile has expanded to nearly 100, two of the four offices are located in Bali and Boston, partnerships with Google, the Arizona State University, ETH Zurich and vocational training centers in St. Gallen have been established and the startup’s revenues are in the seven-figure range.

«Labster was founded simultaneously in both Switzerland and Denmark», says Robert MacKenzie VP Engineering & Research of Labster. Its headquarters, however, are in Copenhagen where the Danish government funded several large innovation projects. «We are committed to growing our Swiss presence and collaboration with Swiss institutions», explains MacKenzie. Kickstart has helped Labster significantly in achieving these goals. Thanks to the program, Labster now has contact with and concrete interest from Swiss-based investors for its series-B financing round and new partnerships with the University of Zurich and Migros Klubschule.

Another example of a bi-national startup is fintech startup Yukka Lab, specialized in real time news analytics. Yukka was founded in Berlin in 2014 and with the founders being German and Swiss, the startup has an office in Zurich as well. «80 percent or our business activities and a lot of our investors are located in Switzerland», says Oliver Berchtold, CPO and cofounder of Yukka Lab. Furthermore, Berchtold and his cofounders consider Switzerland to be the ideal place to initiate their startup’s international expansion.

Clients such as UBS, Falcon Private Bank, Deloitte and the German business newspaper Handelsblatt use Yukka’s products the «Yukka News & Trend Lab» and API solutions, which detect sentiments for companies, indexes, countries and markets by analyzing news publications. In addition, the startup is currently conducting five PoCs.

«To be honest I expected to encounter a lot more supporting programs for startups in Berlin but that wasn’t the case», admits Berchtold. He considers Kickstart to be the accelerator in Switzerland to connect startups with corporates – exactly what Yukka wanted at this stage. Through the program Yukka collaborated with Kickstart alumni AAAcell, they will soon launch their cojoint product offering. Further cooperations with Credit Suisse, PwC, Swisscom and fellow participant and Startup Altoo were made as well.

Labster team in 2017 (l to r): Michael Bodekaer (second from the left), CTO and cofounder, Robert MacKenzie (back: first from the right), VP Engineering & Research and Mads Bonde (middle: first from the right), CEO and cofounder.



The Yukka Lab founders (l to r): Oliver Bechtold, CPO, Andreas Pusch, CEO and Christian Richter, CTO.

(Main picture: Kickstart Accelerator Closing Ceremony)