Following nine months of set-up work, S2S is now starting with a soft launch. The first four-person teams have started to work at ETH and the University of Zurich, at the University of St. Gallen and at EPFL. Students run the whole VC operation. At the core is the investment committee which decides autonomously within the framework of the investment criteria and typically invests 20k to 150k into start-ups with a link to a Swiss university. The investment committee consists of representatives from leading student organizations ("Club of Clubs") that are fully dedicated to autonomously shape and run S2S in a cross-campus mindset in line with the published guidelines.
By working at S2S, students learn how VCs work and which tools they use in the process. At the same time, entrepreneurial projects are supported at an early stage, paving the way for students with business ideas to become entrepreneurs.
Initiators with impressibe track record
The initiators behind the new VC are no strangers to the scene. These are investors Thomas Meier (ex Redalpine) and Cynthia Jurytko (ex Wille Finance), as well as tech entrepreneur Alexander Ilic (ex Dacuda / Magic Leap, today ETH AI Center). The initiators have not only done the groundwork, but will also accompany the student teams permanently alongside other mentors. "The investment decisions, however, are made exclusively by students," emphasises Cynthia Jurytko president of the board of S2S.
In addition, there is also a financial giving back that is important. The annual management fee is targeted to strengthen existing student-organizations and events rather than duplicating efforts. It has an immediate boost of the ecosystem. In addition, the initiators believe in long-term incentives and therefore donate 50% of the carry to the student organizations.
Collaborations with a large number of VCs
Besides collaborating with student organisations, partnerships with established VCs as co-investors are a central component of the concept. For the initiators, it is important that the students get to know the entire range of renowned Swiss VCs. «Today, there is sometimes the risk that young entrepreneurs randomly pick investors or have a limited view on the ecosystem. We therefore want to set up a collaborative platform with multiple VCs that both sides can benefit”, highlights Alexander Ilic.
First investments secured
Over the course of the last 9 months several important milestones have been achieved. Partnerships with student organisations have been closed and four small teams have been recruited. A female share of almost 50% was achieved. First initial investments have been secured. Investors include board members and experienced investors. In addition, the team set up collaboration frameworks and alignment with several VCs.
Next steps are contracts with VCs and further investments from institutional investors to reach the target size of 10 million Swiss francs. The student teams are also to be expanded further. In addition to evaluating cases and managing the relationship with co-investors, they could also take on marketing tasks, for example.
The concept is different than the one of the Wingman Campus Fund, which we described in another article today, however both try to attract bright minds to the world of start-ups as founders or investors. That the two initiatives start to communicate about their achievements and plans at the same day is a coincidence but nonetheless telling. Investors are obviously convinced that there is huge untapped potential with regard to start-ups at Swiss universities.