Switzerland: a gateway for international startups to expand into the European market


Tonight is the opening ceremony of Kickstart Accelerator’s 2018 program, in which 30 startups from twelve countries are participating. Startupticker asked two international startups, Gnowbe from Singapore and Yarok Microbio from Israel, about their goals for the accelerator, what attracted them to the Swiss market and what their further plans for Switzerland are.


While Zurich might not (yet) be mentioned in the same breath as big, international startup hubs such as Boston or London, it is becoming an increasingly interesting stepping-stone for international startups. Two such startups are this year’s Kickstart Accelerator participants Gnowbe and Yarok Microbio.

Gnowbe is a Singaporean edtech startup, which created a mobile micro learning and engagement solution aiming to help the modern workforce to learn faster and better. «Our milestones so far include 80 paying enterprise clients as well as strategic partnerships with corporates such as KPMG and Mercer and polytechnic institutes in Singapore», says So-Young Kang, CEO and founder of Gnowbe.

Yarok Microbio, a foodtech startup based in Jerusalem, Israel, has developed a new technology for fast detection of dangerous bacteria in the entire food chain. «Our pilot installations are already creating revenue», explains Jonathan Sierra, CEO and co-founder of Yarok. One of those installations is in Israel’s second largest dairy plant another is scheduled for implementation in salad vegetables manufacturing plant in Italy.

Swiss clients wanted

Kickstart has made it their goal to attract and accept more mature startups such as Yarok and Gnowbe in order for them to be better able to work with large companies. Both startups hope to gain Swiss clients through the accelerator. For Gnowbe their primary targets are financial services, bank and insurance companies. «Success to us would be confirming clients to demonstrate the impact of Gnowbe to Swiss companies», elaborates Kang. Yarok hopes to implement pilot programs with Swiss food producers or retailers and professional testing laboratories.

In addition to gaining clients, the two startups want to attract investors and build a network of tech innovation experts. «We believe the Swiss innovation ecosystem can be the right opportunity for us, both in terms of technology partnerships and investors», says Sierra.

Kang and Sierra also agree that Switzerland is a great gateway to the European market for their respective startups. As far as opening an office in Switzerland in the near future goes, both founders are open to the idea. According to Jonathan Sierra the possibility for Yarok to open a Swiss office will be evaluated according to the outcomes of the accelerator, its partners and the further developments in Switzerland. «If Gnowbe attracts clients in Switzerland, we would absolutely be open to considering Switzerland for our European base», says Kang.


Yarok Microbio team (l to r): Vladimir Glukhman, CSO and cofounder, Rachel Neiman, marketing director and Jonathan Sierra, CEO and cofounder.


The Gnowbe team. So-Young Kang, CEO and founder, fourth from the right.

(Main picture: Kickstart Accelerator)