USD 250 million for an app’s design




On the first day of their journey, the winners of the Swisscom Startup Challenge learn a lot about the success factors and pitfalls in Silicon Valley. And the start-up meetings begin with investors, potential partners and competitors.




In February 2015, Samsung bought a start-up based in San Francisco for USD 250 million. It had developed the app Looppay, on which the Korean company based its payment app Samsung Pay. At the time of the sale, the start-up did not even have a working prototype, just a cool design that showed what the payment app might look like. Sketchin, a design company headquartered in Ticino, was responsible for the design.

Pietro Masi, US general manager and UX design director at Sketchin, faces the winners of the Swisscom Startup Challenge on Monday afternoon and tells them about Sketchin’s greatest success and the importance of design in general. Masi is part of a panel of speakers that includes representatives from swissnex San Francisco, Swiss Business Hub USA, lawyers, fiduciaries and several Swiss entrepreneurs working in California. They give short introductory lectures and are then available for one-to-one meetings.

In August, AAAccell, Dotphoton, Exeon Analytics, Sentifi and ROVENSO were named winners of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge. The competion was organised for the sixth time by Swisscom and the program partner Venturelab. They are in Silicon Valley for a week having arrived on Sunday evening. Four of the start-ups have also sent a second person to the US west coast in addition to their CEO. The trip, organised by the Swisscom outpost in Palo Alto, allows the nine entrepreneurs to immerse themselves in Silicon Valley.

The introduction on Monday by the speakers illuminates very different aspects. All emphasise the opportunities that exist in Silicon Valley, but also that achieving success is hard work. This starts with small things: in the US, it is usual to simply ignore emails and as Damian Felchlin from the Swiss Business Hub in San Francisco tells the Swiss start-ups: “You have to push your business partners.”

The speakers also point out that one should not underestimate the cultural differences. Americans usually think within the borders of their country and so start-ups looking to do business with US companies should already have a US address and phone number.

Not all the winners of the Startup Challenge attend all the sessions on the first day, which is reserved for the introduction and one-to-one meetings with experts. Not due to a lack of quality, but because the most important part of the trip are individual meetings which were set up by Swisscom. In addition most start-ups used their personal network to arrange further meetings. the companies will talk to investors and other potential business partners. Some young companies even have meetings with competitors on their agenda. After all, it's easy to see what's happening in Silicon Valley right now.

The trip will continue with individual meetings for the next days. Another highlight on Wednesday will be a pitch night at the swissnex location in San Francisco. We will keep our readers updated. 

Stefan Kyora's trip to the Silicon Valley is supported by Swisscom.