Ten IMD Startup Competition winners travel to the Silicon Valley

Ten Swiss startups will take part in the IMD EMBA Discovery Expeditions to Silicon Valley in September. The entrepreneurs are embedded in the EMBA classes for the entire week and will go through a series of activities such as visits to big companies and startups, talks by experts and a pitching event.

Each year IMD selects 25 start-ups for the IMD award. 10 of the 25 selected winners work with the Executive MBA classes - a group of experienced international executives (average age 40, mostly in general management roles, many at large companies like Nestlé and ABB) who, in small teams, will analyse and challenge their business plans, teams and company strategies. The ten selected start-ups and two EMBA classes have been collaborating since June, much of it at a distance, but during the one-week September expeditions basically the entrepreneurs are embedded in the classes for the entire week, and given all the same opportunities as the EMBAs.

IMD creates a 6-day total immersion program for the EMBAs and the entrepreneurs become part of the class that week. Everyone goes through a series of activities: Visits to about 10 big companies that have moved out of the garage (Uber, Facebook, Google, Nimble, Genentech, etc). Small team visits to altogether 34 different startups each week. A VC who gives a talk on what he expects in a pitch.  An IP lawyer who talks about the need for IP to be part of the strategy, rather than as an afterthought for the lawyers. A group of senior HR professionals who talk about how HR works in the Valley. A half-day when the EMBAs and entrepreneurs set up their own meetings and visits. 

An important element of the week is a pitching event. During the week entrepreneurs work with their team of EMBAs to create a 15-minute presentation.  On the last day of the expedition the EMBA students pitch the start-ups to Silicon Valley VCs.  The entrepreneur is present in the room, but is not allowed to speak. 

Asked what the start-ups like about the trip Jim Pulcrano, member of the IMD EMBA Teaching Team says: “I think they like the different perspectives that they hear from the EMBAs as they work on the startup’s pitch. I think they like the new ideas they get when talking to this myriad of SV people. I think occasionally they wake up and discover that there is a whole other world out their beyond the Swiss borders that is sometimes bigger and more exciting than anything they’d seen before, but also sometimes more challenging than they expected.  They also like the risk-free chance to try their pitches and ideas out in the Valley.”

In the last years a number of successful Swiss start-ups took part in the trip. Jim Pulcrano mentions several companies that had been acquired in the meantime, for example Faceshift and Lemoptix, and MindMaze. The company got in touch with the Stanford hospital during the trip.

The call for candidates for the 2016/2017 IMD Startup Competition will be made at the end of September. More information on the IMD website.

The ten start-ups that will travel to Silicon Valley in September are:

Andreas Ulbig
We develop tools that enable Distribution System Operators to integrate more renewables into their electricity grid while maintaining grid stability and saving operation & planning costs.

Alexandre Catsicas, ARTMYN provides digitization of visual artworks with interactive rendering, via a web browser, accessible from any mobile device. The “iTunes for Art”.

Raphaël Gindrat
BestMile is offering the solution to manage fleets of autonomous vehicles.

ComfyLight AG
Stefanie Turber
Novel in-home security products and services. Our first product, ComfyLight, is a simple and elegant security solution built in a sensor-packed light bulb and a smart phone app.

Peripal AG
Sandra Neumann
Novel patient assist device for a chronic patient population in dialysis, solving the most problematic therapy step: a manual connection of tubings.

Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals
Ruben Herrendorff
Polyneuron develops a promising new class of drugs to treat autoimmune disorders of the nervous system.

Olivier Hamel
Prodibi is the high-quality, powerful and easy way to showcase images beautifully. We deliver new standards of beauty and delight to the online image experience.

ViDi Systems SA
Nicolas Corsi
ViDi enables computers, machines and cars to make sense of images so they can interact intelligently with the world.

Esmeralda Megally
Xsensio develops a Lab-on-Skin sensing platform, combining biosensors and wearables.

Xiang Li
ZuriMED develops and produces medical devices for ligament reconstruction.