The Swiss Startup Day is the benchmark for startup events in Switzerland. And it is amazing how Jean-Pierre Vuilleumier and Christian Wenger manage to improve the event every year. This year, the number of participants increased to 700. 60 start-ups pitched to investors and almost 1000 one-to-one meetings were held. The most important signal that the Swiss startup ecosystem evolves however was the talk of Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann.
Schneider-Ammann pointed out that he is willing to support Swiss startups because of their importance for the Swiss economy. This support focusses on creating good framework conditions for young companies. Schneider-Ammann is convinced that “Switzerland is so successful because it does not have an interventionist policy”. He talked about five issues that have to be improved to enable start-up to grow faster:
Preserve the good education and research system including a full association to Horizon 2020.
Ensure that best minds can come to Switzerland. In this regard he mentioned the increased number of working permits for employees from third countries.
Cut red tape and lower barriers to market entry.
Startup Funding is prerequisite for successful startups. Here Schneider-Ammann mentioned the joint declaration of pension funds, insurance companies and his Ministry of Economics.
Keep taxes low so that fast growing companies stay in Switzerland.
Schneider-Ammann also pointed out that those target cannot be achieved easily. Regarding bureaucracy he said that although everyone talks about de-regulation, the number of laws and regulations is increasing every day.
Startups meeting investors One important goal of the Swiss Startup Day is to enable start-ups to meet investors. That’s why the second day started with “Investors on Stage”. Investors presented their companies or their business angel clubs and told the audience what kind of start-ups they are looking for.
But Startups also pitched to investors. A total of 60 startups had the opportunity to present their ideas to the audience. These were divided in three categories: Life Scicences, ICT and companies from the Kickstart Accelerator. At the end of the day in every category three start-ups with the best pitches were selected to compete for the Pitching Battle Award. The winner was Smart Home Technology, an ETH Spin-off developing smart and energy efficient appliances for homes and industries; runners up were Entocube, a kickstart accelerator start-up from Finland focusing on insects farming; and CatchEye, an IT start-up striving to make skype conversations personal by improving eye contact etc.
Sharing experiences Another important element of the event is networking. Apart from that founders and investor shared their experiences in two panel discussion. Participating founders were; Madiha Derouzi, Amal Therapeutics; Alfredo Bruno, AOT; Emil de Rijk, Swissto12; Mike Naef, Doodle; and David Studer, Xovis. In their discussion the founders mainly emphasized that founders and those intending to found have to focus on the end product to ensure that it meets the demands of their customers. They urged them to talk to their potential customers to avoid making mistakes and having to repeat the process. David Studer mentioned that it is through a good product, that a company will obtain significant sales. “Product first then sales”. The panel further advised that, it is crucial for founders to utilise all available resources, their networks and support from experienced founders, family and friends.