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About Nicolas Egger:

⁠Nicolas Egger⁠ is the co-founder of ⁠Poinz⁠, a B2B2C platform for SMEs, and of ⁠Aepsy⁠, a mental health platform for online or in-person sessions with psychologists. He holds a BASc in General Management from ZHAW. Prior to university, Nicolas played football and worked at Credit Suisse and PAN Asset Management AG.

During his undergraduate studies, Nicolas joined the startup jayboo as a late co-founder and stayed there for 2 years before starting his next venture, Poinz. At Poinz, Nicolas experienced all the ups and downs of entrepreneurship: he bootstrapped the company for 1.5 years, almost saw the company go bankrupt, lost an exit opportunity at the last minute, got funded by the Deindeal mafia founders, scaled his company up, and ended up meeting his future wife there.

After 6.5 years at Poinz, Nicolas felt that he and his co-founder were not sufficiently in agreement regarding the future of the company, and he also had the urge to start a project in the mental health industry, so he left Poinz in 2019 to start Aepsy a year later. His desire to delve deeper into the mental health industry came when a friend of his went through a mental health crisis, and he found that searching online for a psychologist was a nightmare. He knew his friend wasn’t an isolated case: statistics estimate that ⅓ of Swiss people suffer from mental health issues, and that out of those people, ⅔ do not reach out for help. So he created a platform where people can answer a few questions about their needs and be presented with a suitable selection of therapists, with whom they can do intro calls to assess the fit. Aepsy works with certified Swiss psychotherapists with years of practical experience and has a 95% client satisfaction rate.  

Nicolas Egger, co-founder Aepsy, Swisspreneur Podcast
February 8, 2024

EP #375 - Nicolas Egger: Fixing the Mental Health Care Industry

Nicolas Egger
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About Murielle Schreck:

⁠Murielle Schreck⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠qCella⁠, an ETH spin-off impregnating natural fibers with copper and using them to develop heating pads with superior properties compared to commercially available heating wires. She holds a PhD in Materials Science from ETH and started qCella as soon as she obtained her degree in 2021.

qCella mats have the proper electrical resistance across the entire structure so that they heat homogeneously when connected to a power source (e.g.: a battery). The thinness and smoothness of the heating mats allow for more energy-efficient heating by eliminating the need for a heat-losing upholstery layer between mat and human body. The heating mats can also be cut into any shape and size and are easily integrated into the final heated product.

qCella is currently raising a pre-seed round of CHF 600K, part of which through the ⁠Swisspreneur Syndicate⁠. They plan on using the funds to help launch their first product. Click ⁠here⁠ to learn more about the deal.

Murielle Schreck, co-founde qCella, Swisspreneur Podcast
February 5, 2024

EP #374 - Murielle Schreck: The ETH Spin-Off Making Futuristic Heating Pads

Murielle Schreck
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About Sven Erni:

⁠Sven Erni⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠Impact Acoustic⁠, a Swiss provider of high-performance, circular acoustic solutions made from upcycled material. He holds a BSc in International Hotel Management from EHL, Lausanne, and previously worked for companies like PDM International and Pfister Professional AG before starting Impact Acoustic in 2019.

Most acoustic panels nowadays are made out of glass or rock, and so while they are technically circular/recyclable, it requires a lot of energy (and therefore money) to recycle them. Impact Acoustics’ panels, on the other hand, are made 100% out of recycled PET bottles and are themselves recyclable. Their products are lightweight, robust, washable and available in several sizes.

Together with his team, Sven decided to say no to a request for a quotation from the American PepsiCo headquarters for + USD 500K, which would have been their biggest single standing offer to date. They did this out of a conviction that it does not make sense to work with one of the 5 biggest plastic polluters on Earth if their mission is to help fight plastic waste. Similarly, they decided not to work with any of the other 4 big polluters: Coca-Cola, Suntory, Danone, and Nestlé. Their board was not happy, but Sven and his team have stuck to their decision and continue saying no to offers from these companies, even though they estimate that this will lose them 1.2-1.5M in turnover in 2023 alone. They do, however, do business with companies like Amazon, and the rationale behind it is that if they don’t do business with any polluters, they won’t do business at all. Their goal is to one day become obsolete (as there will be no more plastic waste), but they don’t think this will happen anytime soon.

Sven Erni, co-founder Impact Acoustic, Swisspreneur Podcast
February 1, 2024

EP #373 - Sven Erni: Circular, Upcycled Acoustic Solutions

Sven Erni
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Get tickets to Scaleup Slopes 2024 here.

About Thomas Zurbuchen:

⁠Thomas Zurbuchen⁠ is a professor at ⁠ETH Space⁠ and the former Head of Science at NASA. He was born in 1968 in the canton of Bern, son of a Free Church preacher who did not want him to attend university to study Astrophysics. Thomas went against his father’s wishes and was consequently kicked out of the house, and the ensuing isolation was the hardest ordeal he ever experienced in his life. In retrospect, Thomas believes this experience inoculated him from fearing future isolation and hardship. 

After completing his PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Bern in 1996, Thomas moved to the US to take a job at the University of Michigan, where he founded the Center for Entrepreneurship. Thomas spent 2 decades as a tenured professor there before joining NASA. During his 6 years as an Associate Administrator at NASA, Thomas led the science program and oversaw 37 launches and 55 new missions. In 2022 he left NASA, because he felt like he’d already contributed all his best ideas and wasn’t really growing on a constant basis anymore. 

2023 saw Thomas move back to Switzerland and take up a teaching job at ETH, where he leads the space programs and works to grow science and commercial activities in Switzerland and beyond.

Thomas Zurbuchen, former head of science NASA, Swisspreneur Podcast
January 25, 2024

EP #372 - Thomas Zurbuchen: Startups & NASA: Braving the Unknown

Thomas Zurbuchen
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About Pascal Koenig & Sophie Lamparter:

⁠Sophie Lamparter⁠ is the co-founder of ⁠DART Labs⁠, an international fund investing in early stage Swiss climate and health tech startups to accelerate them on the US market. She holds a degree in Communication and Media Studies from ZHAW.

⁠Pascal Koenig⁠ is the co-founder, former CEO and current board member at ⁠AVA women⁠, a startup manufacturing wearable fertility trackers for women. He studied business in St Gallen and New York and worked at McKinsey for a few years before being invited by one of his university professors to join a startup project — Cardiosave.

Pascal and Sophie have created a fundraising masterclass which is available for free at ⁠https://swisspreneur.org/fundraising⁠. During this live session, they summarized the masterclass into a few key takeaways, some of which are jotted down in these shownotes as well.

How do you know if VC money is right for you?

Sophie and Pascal think that if you can afford to go bootstrapped, you should do it. If you only need to raise a small sum of money, go for angel investors. If you want to raise larger amounts, it would make sense to reach out to VC investors, but you should take into consideration that a VC fund’s goal is to have one of their investments return the value of the entire fund. So if you pitch to a CHF 100M fund, know that their goal is to invest in a startup that will return them 100M. Is that the kind of startup that you are willing to build and capable of building?

How do I make my startup more “investable”?

First of all, you need to strengthen the team. If your startup has little to no traction but a great idea, then what funds evaluate is the team’s potential. Secondly, you should attempt to build some traction through things like marketing campaigns, and if you haven’t validated your product/service yet, you should at least validate the tech it’s based on.

How much equity should I give away in my first round?

No more than 25%. Remember, if things go well, you’ll be doing plenty of rounds.

How do I come up with my startup’s valuation?/ How much money should I ask for?

Know that if you ask for CHF 1M, that presupposes your company valuation is CHF 4M. So if you go in asking for CHF 5M and investors don’t think your company is worth CHF 20M, you’re not getting any money.

Should I go for an equity round or a convertible loan?

Convertible loans have the advantage of being fast: you can deploy the money the following day. Pascal and Sophie recommend that if your company is still early stage and/or if you’re raising a small sum, you should go for a convertible loan. For bigger rounds/late stage, go for equity.

What makes a great pitch deck?

Simplicity. It should be crystal clear even for people who don’t work with you/in your industry.

Why do I need to build a long list of 100 investors? Shouldn’t I be selective?

Selectivity happens further down the line. If you just talk to 5 investors, even if they respond enthusiastically, that doesn’t at all mean that they'll invest.

Pascal recommends that you reach out to 100 investors (given that they all invest in your industry/stage), because out of those 100, 50 will do a call. Out of the 50, 20 will go into due diligence. And then once you get your first term sheet from one of them, other term sheets start showing up — that’s the time to be selective!

Pascal Koenig & Sophie Lamparter, Swisspreneur Show
January 18, 2024

EP #371 - Pascal Koenig & Sophie Lamparter: A Fundraising Masterclass in 40 Minutes

Pascal Koenig & Sophie Lamparter
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Get tickets to Scaleup Slopes 2024 here.

About Mallory Houston Nieman:

⁠Mallory Houston Nieman⁠ is the owner and operator of ⁠Velocity⁠, Switzerland’s first indoor cycling studio. She holds a BA in English & Psychology from Cornell University and an MBA from Swiss Business School, Kloten, and previously worked for American advertising agencies like Hill Holliday and Digitas before moving to Switzerland in 2011 and starting Velocity in 2015.

At Velocity, every ride is measured via power meters, and the rider’s distance covered, calories burned, and power output (watts) are recorded on their online profile so that they can track their progress towards their personal goals. In Velocity’s Veloburn classes, riders have the option to join the Veloboard leaderboard. 

The first challenge Mallory faced when building Velocity was landing the first location (in Zurich): they needed a lot of air, water, and sound proofing, and Mallory’s German was limited at the time, so it was tough to find the right space and convince the landlord to take them in. The second big challenge the team faced was the COVID pandemic, during which they had to close down. To stay afloat, Mallory put the Velocity team on Kurzarbeit, negotiated with landlords, and also benefited from a percentage of revenue loss from the Swiss government. She also made sure to maintain Velocity’s online presence so as to preserve unity and motivation among their community.

Velocity currently has 3 locations: Zurich, Zug and Enge. They’ve chosen to expand on their own instead of franchising because they care deeply about maintaining the soul of Velocity, and also because they’re very careful when choosing locations — all 3 of their studios are within a 4 minute walk of train stations. 

Mallory Houston Nieman, founder Velocity, Swisspreneur Podcast
January 11, 2024

EP #370 - Mallory Houston Nieman: Switzerland’s First Indoor Cycling Studio

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About Mario Michan:

⁠Mario Michan⁠ is the co-founder and CEO of ⁠Daphne Technology⁠, a climate deep tech company reducing air pollution produced by the global shipping industry. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of British Columbia and previously worked as a research scientist at CERN and EPFL before starting Daphne Technologies in 2017.

The company measures, reduces and monetises greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources by developing and scaling innovative technology, enabling their customers to monetise voluntary carbon emission reductions. Shell Ventures, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, Trafigura, AET and Swisscom have invested in Daphne Technologies, and the company has subsidiaries in Norway and the US.

Mario Michan, founder Daphne Technology, Swisspreneur Podcast
January 8, 2024

EP #369 - Mario Michan: Targeting Tough-To-Decarbonize Industries

Mario Michan
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About Michael Waldner:

Michael Waldner is the co-founder and CEO at Pexapark, a provider of energy risk and portfolio management capabilities for renewable energy. He holds a MSc in Industrial Management and Manufacturing Engineering from ETH and previously worked at companies like EGL AG and Axpo Trading AG before starting Pexapark in 2017.

With more than 30GW of renewable PPA transactions supported, Pexapark is the reference for buying, selling and managing renewable energy. What is PPA, you may ask? The acronym stands for Power Purchase Agreement, which is a contractual agreement between energy buyers and sellers. They come together and agree to buy and sell an amount of energy which is or will be generated by a renewable asset. PPAs are usually signed for a long-term period between 10-20 years. Thanks to the low cost of solar technology, solar is now one of the cheapest renewables available. That is what makes solar PPAs popular.

Michael Waldner, co-founder Pexapark, Swisspreneur Podcast
January 4, 2024

EP #368 - Michael Waldner: Buying and Selling Renewable Energy

Michael Waldner
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About Loris Niederberger:

⁠Loris Niederberger ⁠is the co-founder of ⁠Moodtalk⁠, a software for clarity and structure on how teams work together successfully. He holds an MA in International Management from CEMS and previously worked for companies like swissnex China and Voliro Airborne Robotics before starting Moodtalk in 2021.

It is estimated that 97% of C-levels don't know how the company’s strategy, values, and principles are understood and lived in teams, and 3 out of 4 employees say it's unclear how to collaborate optimally as a team. This lack of clarity naturally leads to dissatisfaction, overload, and disorientation — that’s where Moodtalk comes in! Moodtalk lets you define rules for collaboration and update them frequently, and every defined initiative gets tracked.

Through Moodtalk, you can define some basic rules for working optimally together as a team by answering questions like:

  • What should our meeting culture be like? (Cadence, time of day, prep, meeting notes…)
  • How do we give each other feedback? (What does quality mean to us?)
  • How do we approach people who seem burned out?

By defining these things early on and sticking to them, you slowly build up ‘psychological safety’ in your team, which is a term for how willing your team members are to speak up whenever they disagree with something, or simply wish to propose an idea. Of course these things can theoretically be achieved without specialized software, but then again, so can sales and accounting, and we don’t tackle those without proper software nowadays. Moodtalk estimates that through their software teams save an average of 12h per month (mostly by cutting out unnecessary meetings!) and reduce fluctuation by more than 20%.

Loris Niederberger, co-founder Moodtalk, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 28, 2023

EP #367 - Loris Niederberger: Why Your Team Management Needs a Software

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About Philippe Ganz & Paulina Grnarova:

⁠Paulina Grnarova⁠ is the co-founder and CEO of ⁠DeepJudge⁠, an AI-powered Knowledge Search for legal professionals. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from ETH. ⁠Philippe Ganz⁠ is the CEO and co-founder of ⁠aiEndoscopic⁠, a medtech startup combining artificial intelligence with robotic endoscopy. He holds a MSc in Biomedical Engineering from ETH.

During their chat with Silvan, Philippe and Paulina discussed some of the commons topics of starting your first company, like which values to cultivate in your founder team and how to set up a shareholders agreement that foresees all future possibilities, whether to go for grants or equity rounds as a science-heavy startup, and the guiding principles of building an MVP.

Philippe Ganz & Paulina Grnarova, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 25, 2023

EP #366 - Philippe Ganz & Paulina Grnarova: The Art of the Start

Philippe Ganz & Paulina Grnarova
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About Adrian Melliger:

⁠Adrian Melliger⁠ is the co-owner and CEO of ⁠Designwerk Technologies⁠, an electromobility one-stop-shop. He previously worked for companies like Swissport and Ground Handling Team Holding before joining Designwerk in 2018.

Designwerk was founded back in 2008, after its founders went on a 80-day, all-electric world record circumnavigation with the specially developed Zerotracer cabin motorcycle. Ten years on, the founders invited Adrian to join them as external CEO because they felt a lack of business acumen in their engineer-only founder team.

Designwerk develops and constructs electric trucks, battery systems and chargers. Although their electric vehicles require more energy to produce (and therefore emit more CO2) than diesel vehicles, they make for it on the consumer side, since over their entire lifetime they produce up to 60-90% less CO2. They also often get used in other applications (like solar panels, for example) once their first life runs out (= 15 years), and can be shredded and have 92-96% of their raw materials be recycled.

Designwerk’s turnover increased 11x ever since Adrian joined as CEO, and like any other scaling company, they’ve had to deal with some growing pains: getting the right people on board, adapting the structure and processes, ensuring sufficient cash flow (especially in a capital-intensive business like theirs) and ensuring the availability of materials, especially during challenging times like the COVID pandemic. 

In 2021, Volvo Group acquired a stake in Designwerk Group to complement its existing offering in the area of niche products and solutions.

Adrian Melliger, CEO Designwerk Technologies, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 21, 2023

EP #365 - Adrian Melliger: The Electromobility One-Stop-Shop

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About Reto Naef:

⁠Reto Naef⁠ is the founder and former CEO of ⁠TOPADUR PHARMA AG⁠, a biopharmaceutical company developing disruptive therapies for aging diseases. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from ETH and an MBA from UZH and previously worked for pharma companies like Sandoz and Novartis before starting TOPADUR in 2015. 

TOPADUR develops dual-acting drugs that target the cGMP-Enzyme Regulation System to stimulate microcirculation, enable tissue regeneration, and avoid local oxygen deficiency. Based on this key invention, they’ve built a portfolio of drug candidates to treat aging-related diseases like chronic wounds, skin fibrosis, age-related macular degeneration, colorectal cancer, hair loss and skin aging.

TOPADUR recently participated in the Sparks IPO Academy as part of their journey towards going public. They estimate that an IPO will be possible around early 2025, provided that they successfully bring all the drugs in their portfolio to market. Reto decided to step down from his operative role in 2023.

Reto Naef, founder TOPADUR, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 18, 2023

EP #364 - Reto Naef: Disruptive Therapies for Aging Diseases

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About Vivek Dogra, Arijana Walcott, Lukas André & Dominique Gruhl:

⁠Vivek Dogra⁠ is a venture partner at the ⁠European Circular Bioeconomy Fund⁠, the leading investment fund dedicated to growth-stage companies and projects within the European Bioeconomy. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics from PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh (India) and an MBA from INSEAD. He previously worked for companies like Heineken, Red Bull and Nestlé before joining ECBF in 2020.

⁠Arijana Walcott⁠ is a co-founder and managing partner at ⁠DART Labs⁠, together with former Swisspreneur guest Sophie Lamparter. DART invests in early stage startups from Switzerland and Europe and helps them test and scale their ideas in San Francisco. Arijana holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in General Management from HSO and previously worked as VP Innovation & Technology at Swisscom.

⁠Lukas André⁠ is a managing partner at ⁠Redstone Digital⁠, a Berlin-based Venture Capital firm that manages multiple corporate and institutional venture funds. He holds a MSc in Finance, Entrepreneurship & Computer Science from the University of Bern and previously co-founded 3 startups before joining the VC world.

⁠Dominique Gruhl⁠ is the CEO of ⁠Serpentine Ventures⁠, the investment arm of the Swiss Ventures Group and leading Swiss advisor for venture assets. She holds an MA in Applied Economics from HEC Montréal and an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies from the University of Leeds. Dominique previously worked at A.T. Kearney and the Canadian Embassy in Bern before joining Serpentine Ventures in 2023.

During their chat with Silvan, the four spoke about the difficulties and intricacies of running a venture fund in Europe, exploring topics like how to manage investor relationships so as never to lose an investor’s trust, why deeptech is what sets Europe apart, and how the sustainability sector is shaping up in the current fundraising climate. 

Vivek Dogra, Arijana Walcott, Lukas André & Dominique Gruhl, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 14, 2023

EP #363 - VCs on Stage

Vivek Dogra, Arijana Walcott, Lukas André & Dominique Gruhl
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About Christian Fischer:

⁠Christian Fischer⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠Bcomp⁠, a global leader in advanced renewable material solutions. He holds a PhD in Materials Science from EPFL and previously worked at the aluminum products manufacturer Constellium before founding Bcomp in 2011.

The company started as a garage project to create lightweight, high performance skis. The result was bCores™, which were launched and successfully adopted by some of the biggest names in freeride skiing. The founders, material science PhDs from EPFL, used flax fibers to reinforce the balsa cores and improve shear stiffness. Impressed by the excellent mechanical properties of flax fibers, they began thinking of other applications and a potential business case.

Nowadays they additionally produce ampliTex™ and power-Ribs™, whose proprietary natural fiber-based reinforcement technologies reduce environmental impact in a wide range of high-performance applications, from automotive interiors to the highest levels of motorsports, from luxury yachting to sports, infrastructure, aerospace and even space.

Bcomp recently participated in the Sparks IPO Academy.

Christian Fischer, co-founder Bcomp, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 11, 2023

EP #362 - Christian Fischer: From Building Skis to Building a Company

Christian Fischer
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About Fabian Gerber & Jan Luescher:

⁠Jan Luescher⁠ is the CEO at ⁠ASMALLWORLD⁠, an exclusive travel & lifestyle community. He previously worked as a Principal at Bain & Company and holds a MA in Strategy and International Management from HSG. ⁠Fabian Gerber⁠ is a Senior Relationship Manager at ⁠SIX Swiss Exchange⁠, with a focus on IPOs. He holds a masters in Corporate Finance from HSLU and previously worked for Zürcher Kantonalbank and Credit Suisse. 

ASMALLWORLD did a direct listing on the Swiss Stock Exchange in 2018, registering shares at a price of CHF 9.75 per share. During his conversation with Silvan, Jan shared his insights on the process of going public, and Fabian added his perspective as someone with inside knowledge.

So why do companies go public?

  • They need more capital, and have perhaps grown past the company size that is easiest for VCs to invest in;
  • They have stakeholders who want to sell their stakes in the company.

Where should you list your company?

  • Swiss listings are considerably cheaper than in the US, if for no other reason than because going public in the US also requires getting American legal and tax advisors, an American investment bank, etc…
  • Swiss listings take 4 weeks to get approved, which helps you take advantage of your IPO window and derisk your project. In the US, however, you have to file with the SCC, handle the IRS, etc…

What are the requirements for going public in Switzerland?

  • At least CHF 2.5M in net equity;
  • A free float of 20%, and it has to be at least CHF 25M in market cap.

But wait! Not all that shimmers is gold. What are the disadvantages of going public?

  • You have to report twice a year on the state of your company;
  • You spend something like CHF 700K on the going public process itself;
  • You spend around 200-300K per year just for being listed: legal expenses, paying banks…

Of course, going public did indeed help ASMALLWORLD in acquiring more capital and gaining trust with potential partners, and the effort required to report publicly twice a year is something which Jan says helps you run your business better overall.

Fabian Gerber & Jan Luescher, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 7, 2023

EP #361 - Fabian Gerber & Jan Luescher: From Startup to IPO

Fabian Gerber & Jan Luescher
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About Sarah Harbarth:

⁠Sarah Harbarth⁠ is the co-founder and CEO of ⁠kuori⁠, a B2B enterprise providing eco-friendly alternative-plastic granules for fashion, outdoor equipment, tools, and toys. She holds a BA in Industrial Design from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, and was working there as a research assistant when she started kuori in 2021.

The idea for kuori arose out of a need to combat the issue of microplastics, which are non-biodegradable materials that pollute our waterways and end up in our food, while also tackling the problem of food waste. And so Sarah had the idea to upcycle food byproducts, like banana peels and walnut shells, to build plastic alternatives that are 5x more ecological while also preserving elasticity.

Since the start of the project, kuori has closed €2.3M in financing, which allowed them to upscale their production and their team. They are currently raising their next round, looking for 1.5M in dilutive money. Part of this money is being raised through the ⁠Swisspreneur Syndicate⁠.

Sarah Harbarth, co-founder kuori, Swisspreneur Podcast
December 4, 2023

EP #360 - Sarah Harbarth: Building Biobased, Biodegradable Materials

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About Markus Witte:

⁠Markus Witte⁠ is the chairman and co-founder of ⁠Babbel⁠, the market leading app for language learning, as well as a partner at Wachstumsbegleitung, which offers coaching and consulting for scaling startups. He holds an MA in Cultural Studies from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and previously worked as a university professor in Germany and the US before founding Babbel in 2007.

In his second conversation with our host, Silvan, Markus shared his thoughts on co-founder relationships and managing an early stage startup. Here is a summary of his takeaways:

  • Statistics tell us that solo founders tend to be more successful, but that might just because the sheer determination it takes to start something on your own is also very useful in seeing the project through to the finish line. Whenever possible, start ventures with 1-3 other people;
  • When looking for potential co-founders, watch closely for ego issues: does it bother this person if they’re not always number one? If so, that’s not someone you want to partner up with;
  • Co-founding companies with relatives or romantic partners certainly isn’t a setup Markus would recommend, but there are plenty of documented cases of people doing it successfully;
  • A founding team breaking apart with time is not a sign of failure. People develop other interests and move on — that’s perfectly normal;
  • As a startup founder, you’ll rarely if ever have clear indication to pivot your product. Nay-sayers will always be telling you no, and it’s hard to understand to what extent your traction is the result of pure luck. So you have to keep going and find out. One thing to consider here is: How long can you afford to do this, both financially and emotionally?
  • In the beginning of a startup venture, rules are your enemy. You have to break them to make your own path. But when you start scaling up, rules become necessary, otherwise your promising operation descends into chaos. Don’t be afraid to change things and set up proper frameworks.

Markus Witte, co-founder Babbel, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 30, 2023

EP #359 - Markus Witte: Building a Successful Founding Team

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About Marco Rodzynek:

⁠Marco Rodzynek⁠ is the founder and CEO at ⁠NOAH Conference⁠, an annual event with an unique line up of digital champions and sustainability market leaders. Marco previously worked at Lehman Brothers, where he was involved in 90+ M&A deals, before starting NOAH Conference and ⁠NOAH Advisors⁠ in 2009. NOAH Advisors is a European leading corporate finance boutique focused on digital growth and sustainability companies.

The next NOAH Conference is scheduled for the 13-14th of December 2023 in Zurich, hosting 350 digital growth and sustainable companies to meet with over 500 unique investment funds.

Marco Rodzynek, founder NOAH, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 27, 2023

EP #358 - Marco Rodzynek: The Conference for Digital, Sustainable, Profitable Startups

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About Sophie Lamparter:

⁠Sophie Lamparter⁠ is the co-founder of ⁠DART Labs⁠, an international fund investing in early stage Swiss climate and health tech startups to accelerate them on the US market. She holds a degree in Communication and Media Studies from ZHAW.

During this episode with us she discussed the current fundraising environment, which is looking very much like an uphill battle not only at the Swiss level but worldwide. There’s less capital available, investors are favoring caution, and companies are doing bridge rounds, because they’re not quite ready for the next round. But Sophie thinks we would do well to remember the time scale at hand: the average fund duration is 10 years, as is the average founder journey — by comparison, a rough 2023 is just a blip in the startup universe. In fact, Sophie argues that now is the smart time to invest, since valuations are down and we know from past startup history that the best companies are forged during crises.

In 2022, the industry which received the most investment in Switzerland was fintech, closely followed by climatetech. Sophie and DART Labs are placing their bets on climatetech in 2023 for several reasons:

  • In 2025 wind and solar energy will become cheaper to produce in the US than coal: climatetech ventures are starting to make financial sense, and not just environmental sense;
  • Climatetech companies are now maturing, like the famous Swiss example, Climeworks;
  • There are more and more impact/climatetech funds coming up;
  • Climatetech events are being hosted in New York and San Francisco;
  • Most of us have now experienced the negative consequences of climate change personally.

DART Labs is currently raising USD 20M, and is still considered an emerging fund. Their investment strategy is health and climatetech early stage Swiss companies looking to enter the US market. Whether you are an investor looking to finance DART, or a startup aiming to be financed by DART, click the link above to head to their website and find out more.

Sophie Lamparter, co-founder DART Labs, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 23, 2023

EP #357 - Sophie Lamparter: Fundraising in 2023

Sophie Lamparter
48
English
Fundraising
Fundraising
No items found.

About Arijana Walcott:

⁠Arijana Walcott⁠ is a co-founder and managing partner at ⁠DART Labs⁠, together with former Swisspreneur guest Sophie Lamparter. DART invests in early stage startups from Switzerland and Europe and helps them test and scale their ideas in San Francisco. Arijana holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in General Management from HSO and previously worked as VP Innovation & Technology at Swisscom.

At DART Labs, she interacts with dozens of startups on a weekly basis, and during her chat with us she summarized some of the lessons she’s learned so far. 

Is your startup VC-backable? 

That depends on how fast you’re willing to go. The question in any investor’s mind, when deliberating whether or not to invest, is “Can this investment provide a return for the entirety of the money this fund has invested thus far?” If you’re not willing/able to grow your valuation 3x every 12 to 18 months, VC money is probably not the right choice for you. Growing at this rate is not the right option for every startup necessarily, but it is very much the type of thing VCs want. For instance, at DART Labs, Arijana and Sophie ask startups whether within 5 years they will be able to reach 50M in revenue, or be acquired for 50M.

Should you go for VC money or business angels?

That depends on the stage of your company. If you’re at a pre-seed stage, you’ll probably only be able to convince business angels. At seed stage, your investor pool might look like a mixed bag. From Series A onwards, you’re much more likely to captivate VCs, and may perhaps start relying more on them than on angel money.

How should you best approach a venture capitalist?

  • Make sure you’re able to reference a specific thing that has motivated you to reach out to them. You can mention something they said at a conference, which really resonated with you, or a company in which they’ve recently invested, that does something similar to what you’re doing. 
  • Play with their FOMO (“fear of missing out”). VCs, Arijana included, very often fall prey to that dreadfully tempting emotion.
  • Don’t let the VC you’re talking to know that you’ve already talked to 30 other investors, if that's the case. Because if you have, and you don’t have any soft commitments yet, the VC may very well assume the fault lies with your product (and ask yourself: does it?).

Arijana recommends that you structure your fundraising timeline around upcoming milestones which impact your valuation. She also urges you to make sure you have enough runway. 6 months for fundraising and 7 months of runway… is a recipe for disaster.

What are VCs thinking about during the first intro call?

  • “Is this the right team for this challenge?”
  • “Is this challenge worth tackling?”

In future calls, you’ll discuss things like the business model, your sales pipeline, etc.

What makes a good pitch deck?

  • It’s never a bad idea to go with the typical, Silicon Valley-style, “10 slides, problem -> solution” pitch deck.
  • If your product is deep tech or healthtech, make sure to have your scientific research ready at hand.
  • If you have a strong sales funnel, include it in your pitch deck! Investors wanna know whom the great companies you’re talking to are.
  • When giving investors access to the data room, it’s a great idea to include a Q&A/FAQ file with all the questions other VCs have previously asked. 
Arijana Walcott, founder DART Labs, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 20, 2023

EP #356 - Arijana Walcott: Q&A with a DART Labs Founder

Arijana Walcott
43
English
Fundraising
Fundraising
No items found.

About Georg Hirschi:

⁠⁠Georg Hirschi⁠⁠ is the co-founder and strategy lead at ⁠⁠FOUND⁠⁠, a startup bringing the digital consumer revolution to hiring. He holds an MA in Applied Sciences, Commerce & Business Administration from UZH, and previously worked at companies like PeopleScout and Lee Hecht Harrison before starting FOUND in 2022, together with his co-founder Ranjit de Sousa.

Despite the COVID pandemic having turbocharged digitization in companies across the globe, hiring has remained immune to innovation for the past few decades. Employers and job searchers alike are overwhelmingly unhappy with the hiring process, whether that be with or without the services of recruiters.  

FOUND turns the tables and has employers pitch opportunities to top talent. AI-based matching and gamified assessments make every interaction worthwhile and keep everyone happy. Of course, FOUND only works with fast growing companies committed to providing a great employee experience, and they only accept top talent onto their platform.

Here’s what sets the FOUND talent community apart:

  • They have demonstrable experience in one of these 3 areas: product, UX/UI design, and software sales;
  • Their onboarding involved a range of selective assessments, not only of their skills and experience, but also of their preferences and behavioral traits;
  • They’re employed but not quite happy with their current situation, though not so frustrated that they’re willing to go through the traditional job searching process. Basically, if you’re not on FOUND, you wouldn’t find them.

FOUND’s services are free for talent, and free for employers as well right up until an employment contract is exchanged — then they pay a fixed fee. This way, it’s a 0 risk proposition for both the employer and the employee.

Memorable Quotes:

"We want to simultaneously solve the skills gap for employers and get people jobs that they really love."

Georg Hirschi, co-founder FOUND, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 16, 2023

EP #355 - Georg Hirschi: Flipping the Roles in Job Search

Georg Hirschi
46
English
Hiring & Firing
Hiring & Firing
No items found.

About Anna Grassler, Cristian Grossmann & Sven Jakelj:

⁠⁠Anna Grassler⁠⁠ is co-CEO at ⁠⁠FELFEL⁠⁠, a company changing the way people eat at work. She holds a masters in Management & Social Entrepreneurship from ESCP Business School and previously worked for companies like L’Oréal and Gärtnerei before joining FELFEL in 2022.

⁠⁠Cristian Grossmann⁠⁠ is the co-founder and Head Bee at ⁠⁠beekeeper⁠⁠, the well-known Swiss frontline operating system. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from ETH and worked for companies like ChromaCon and Accenture before starting beekeeper in 2011.

⁠⁠Sven Jakelj⁠⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠⁠feey⁠⁠, an online shop for house plants. He holds an MA in Economics from UZH and previously worked for Deutsche Bank and PROCIVIS before starting feey in 2019. 

As both external CEOs and founders, this trio had a lot to say about shaping and trimming your company culture. They agreed that “culture” can best be defined as the shared set of values that is reflected in every interaction each employee has with the company. This means that once you’ve defined your company values, it isn’t enough to create posters stating these and hang them around the office: you’ve got to live them out during hiring, during performance reviews, at lunch time — all the time!

Which is not to say that as your company scales, your values can’t evolve as well. At beekeeper, for instance, their values used to be described by their stakeholders as very “kumbaya”, but as this Swiss company grew, these values adapted to withstand bigger and tougher challenges, and a clear reflection of that change was that their performance reviews became stricter. 

Check out Silvan’s conversation with these 3 entrepreneurs to learn more about how to set the right values, how to make sure the culture reflects them, and how to tell the difference between letting your values evolve and letting culture get out of hand. 

Memorable Quotes:

"All the jobs I’ve had I liked at the beginning, but eventually got bored with." (Sven)

"Don’t hire 'maybes' out of desperation. You will regret it, and you will have lost time." (Anna)

"Our values have stayed constant, but our culture has changed."(Cris)

Anna Grassler, Cristian Grossmann & Sven Jakelj, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 13, 2023

EP #354 - Culture Evolving Over Time

Anna Grassler, Cristian Grossmann & Sven Jakelj
39
English
Culture
Culture
No items found.

About Nikos Kariotoglou:

⁠Nikos Kariotoglou⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠Seervision⁠, an industry pioneer in AI-driven camera automation software to enable effective hybrid collaboration in corporate boardrooms or lecture halls. He holds a PhD in Control Engineering from ETH and a M.Eng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Imperial College London, and worked as a post-doc researcher at ETH’s Automatic Control Laboratory before starting Seervision in 2016.

Seervision is a provider of AI-powered camera automation software to streamline video production workflows. Seervision improved on the existing surveillance-type automated cameras, which were only able to detect objects, by adding the ability to predict the object’s behavior and move based on this prediction. Their initial project was recording lectures at ETH, but nowadays offer their services for a wide range of applications, such as videoconferencing and live presentations. Their software requires robotic cameras to run, so Seervision sells customers the cameras and then a software subscription as well. 

In June 2023 Seervision announced they had been acquired by California-based Q-Sys. Nikos remains active in the company.

Memorable Quotes:

"The gap between research and practice is 10+. So research can never come too early out of the lab. If you have a hypothesis, go for it."

"You’ve built a product. But you’re not just selling that: you’re selling the service, and tailoring it to the customer."

Nikos Kariotoglou, co-founder Seervision, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 9, 2023

EP #353 - Nikos Kariotoglou: AI Cameras Are Here

Nikos Kariotoglou
57
English
Market & Customers
Product
Market & Customers
Product
No items found.

About Sophia Lamparter, Daniel Gutenberg & Christina Vallgren:

⁠Sophie Lamparter⁠ is the co-founder of ⁠DART Labs⁠, an international fund investing in early stage European climate and health tech startups to accelerate them on the US market. She holds a degree in Communication and Media Studies from ZHAW. ⁠Daniel Gutenberg⁠ is a business angel and entrepreneur, having founded Gutenberg Communication Systems AG at 25 and sold it 5 years later, in 2000. He holds a diploma in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Ecole Technique Supérieure. ⁠Christina Vallgren⁠ is the co-founder, CEO and President of ⁠Terapet SA⁠, a medtech startup based in Geneva. She holds a PhD in Applied Physics.

Coming in with the American perspective, Sophie Lamparter shared that the biggest difference between the Swiss and Silicon Valley ecosystems is culture: in California, every conversation starts with a yes, and you then figure out whether it stays a yes or turns into a no; in Switzerland, conversations start with a no, and then maybe, after the arduous process of building trust, this no can turn into a yes. For startups to thrive, a yes-culture is obviously more beneficial. 

Other topics discussed during this episode include the preparation founder teams must make before they raise funds, how to raise money in uncertain times, what the ideal runway is to start fundraising, and what makes a great pitch deck. Listen to the episode to find out what our guests have to say on these topics and check out Swisspreneur’s free ⁠fundraising masterclass⁠ (which includes Sophie!) to learn more.

Memorable Quotes:

"Next year, we’re going to be looking back at 2023 and saying ‘Boy, 2023 was easy!’" (Daniel Gutenberg)

"As a CEO, you have to build momentum around your company all the time." (Sophie Lamparter)

Sophie Lamparter, Daniel Gutenberg, Christina Vallgren, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 6, 2023

EP #352 - Fundraising from the Startup and Investor Perspective

Sophie Lamparter, Daniel Gutenberg & Christina Vallgren
43
English
Fundraising
Fundraising
No items found.

About Tanja Koch:

⁠⁠Tanja Koch⁠⁠ is a co-founder at ⁠⁠Amplo⁠⁠, a no code platform that makes AI easy and accessible to service and operation departments. She holds a MSc in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zürich and previously worked for companies like LEVITRONIX and 9T Labs before starting Amplo in 2021.

When it comes to finding the right co-founders, Tanja has some advice to give:

  • Your founder team should hold similar values but have different skill sets.
  • Starting a business with a romantic partner can be a good idea or not depending on your personal preference — Tanja personally wouldn’t do it.
  • The optimal founder team size is between 3 and 5 people.
  • The founders should hold equal shares in the company, provided they’re putting in equal amounts of work.
  • The shares/salary split should be set up so that founders don’t have to worry about things like the cost of eating out, but also aren’t living a life of luxury. For Switzerland, try to aim between CHF 3-5K per month.

Amplo raised a CHF 1.6M pre-seed round back in September 2022, in the midst of a complicated fundraising environment. This is Tanja’s advice on pulling a round like that off:

  • Ask your existing investors whom else they know who could invest in your following rounds.
  • Do the regular fundraising tasks: create a long list, then a short list, get intros, go to events, etc.
  • Keep the investors you’re talking to on a tight schedule. Tell them by which date you want a term sheet.
  • Create FOMO, even if accidentally: during the fundraising process, Tanja went to Berlin to visit a friend, and inadvertently made her Swiss investors concerned that she was talking to Berlin VCs. 

Memorable Quotes:

"Ask your existing investors who they know who could invest in your following rounds."

Tanja Koch, co-founder Amplo, Swisspreneur Podcast
November 2, 2023

EP #351 - Tanja Koch: Your First Startup Team

Tanja Koch
39
English
Early Stage
Culture
Early Stage
Culture
No items found.

About Urs Hölzle:

⁠Urs Hölzle⁠ is SVP of Engineering at ⁠Google⁠, having started there in 1999 as their first Search Engine Mechanic and altogether 8th employee. Prior to Google, he started his own company Animorphic LLC in 1994 following the completion of his PhD in Computer Science at Stanford, and later worked as an Associate Professor at UC Santa Barbara and a consultant at Sun Microsystems. 

Having watched Google grow from a tiny company to the megalithic enterprise it is today, Urs had a front row seat to the development of its culture, and played an active role in shaping it. Here’s his advice for other scaling ventures:

  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast: if you have the right culture, it doesn’t matter if you have the right strategy from day 1, because sooner or later you will find it. Being in a team full of smart people who know how to contribute and how to contradict you means the right strategy naturally shapes itself. However, if you have the wrong culture, then the best strategy in the world wouldn’t do much for you.
  • Psychological safety: do the people in your team feel free to speak up and contradict those in positions of authority? When you’re building a scaling venture, you’re making decisions quickly: it’s extremely unlikely that you’re not making any wrong moves. You need these outspoken people as a safety net, and no one’s outspoken if they think getting fired will be the sure consequence of speaking up. 
  • Ask yourself “What does this potential hire add to the team?”: if you have too uniform a team, that team is not going to go nearly as far as one with different skill sets and perspectives. Similarly, you need to be certain that this potential hire is open to being corrected by someone else. It doesn’t matter how smart they are — if they’re not willing to grow, they won’t be much of an addition.

Memorable Quotes:

"Right place, right time is not something you can force."

"I think the #1 reason companies fail is not being mindful enough about scaling well."

"Sometimes the most dangerous thing is to be the smartest person in the room, because it means you stop learning."

Urs Hölzle, SVP Engineering Google, Swisspreneur Podcast
October 26, 2023

EP #350 - Urs Hölzle: Google’s Employee #8

Urs Hölzle
32
English
Culture
Growth & Scaling
Culture
Growth & Scaling
No items found.

About Rodrigo Fraga-Silva:

⁠⁠Rodrigo Fraga-Silva⁠⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠⁠Comphya⁠⁠, a Swiss medical device company and EPFL spin-off with the mission to help patients overcome erectile dysfunction through an innovative neurostimulating implant. He holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher at EPFL and scientist at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering before starting Comphya in 2017.

The problem Comphya solves is clear: whether because of spinal cord injuries, prostatectomy (the removal of the prostate) or other causes, there is a percentage of men who struggle with erectile dysfunction, and of these men, 30% do not respond to oral drugs like Viagra. Their traditional alternatives are injections or prosthetics, both of which are painful and decrease their quality of life. 

This is where Comphya comes in: the team has developed a neurostimulator which can be implanted in the patient’s pelvic floor through a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, and which responds to a wireless remote control to provide patients with self-controlled stimulation. Comphya is currently at the pilot clinical trial phase, and so far implantations have gone extremely well, with no side effects and with patients going home the next day.

Comphya is currently raising a bridge financing round through the Swisspreneur Syndicate, to fill a ticket of CHF 500K. Check out the Swisspreneur Syndicate’s ⁠⁠deal flow page on notion⁠⁠ to find out more. 

Memorable Quotes:

"30% of the men with erectile dysfunction don’t respond to oral stimulants."

Rodrigo Fraga-Silva, co-founder Comphya, Swisspreneur Podcast
October 23, 2023

EP #349 - Rodrigo Fraga-Silva: An Innovative Approach to Erectile Dysfunction

Rodrigo Fraga-Silva
18
English
Fundraising
Fundraising
No items found.

About Herbert Bay:

⁠Herbert Bay⁠ is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and board member. He co-founded the image-recognition platform kooaba, the AR company Shortcut and the mental health tracker ⁠Earkick⁠, where he is currently still active. He holds a PhD in Computer Vision from ETH Zurich and is the original author of the SURF algorithm, used for various Computer Vision and AR applications such as object recognition, image registration, classification, 3D reconstruction etc.

Throughout his decades of experience, Herbert has learned from his mistakes as a product builder, and shared some of his takeaways with us. The following points are advice that he finds universal for all entrepreneurs:

  • Ignore the naysayers: disruptive ideas will always be fought against. Ignore those people, and focus on your customers. (But if your customers are the ones saying no, then maybe it’s time to listen.)
  • Try to build something unique — the market is oversaturated enough as it is.
  • Don’t scale too early! If your rocket ship is missing a crucial piece, taking off is a really bad idea.
  • Focus on value generation from the start. Don’t just pick a cool idea; pick the idea that would bring about the biggest amount of positive change in the world.

Speaking of startup ideas, the ideation stage is full of potential traps:

  • Not having a clear goal, i.e., not being able to pick which of your ideas is best, or which aspects of your 1 idea are the most useful. Brainstorming is fun, but it needs to result in something executable!
  • Focusing on the solution, instead of the problem. Don’t be the founder who fell in love with their tech and then searched the globe for a problem that required it. Start with understanding your customers’ problem, and build your tech based on that.
  • Not being able to boil a complex idea down to a simple approach. Of course this is less applicable to truly complex, research-based, deep tech products, but it’s safe to say that more or less regardless of complexity, you need to be able to explain your product in a simple way. Customers and investors need to get it!

How can you choose between ideas? Reduce each of them to an MVP and test them. Then check which one has the highest conversion rate.

How do you know if you’ve reached product-market fit? Herbert likes Sean Ellis’ “product-market fit score”: ask your users how they would feel if they could no longer use your product — “not disappointed,” “somewhat disappointed,” “very disappointed.” If 40% or more answer very disappointed, then you’ve reached product-market fit.

When it comes to perfecting your product, Herbert is no fan of user testing (i.e., paying people to test your product), because the payment factor conditions people to be nicer to you than they otherwise would be, and because these people are most likely not regular users of your product. He recommends getting in touch with your actual users through surveys, cold outreach, etc. Set up a call, go into detail!


Memorable Quotes:

Any idea that is truly disruptive will have a lot of people against it. Ignore those people and listen to your customers."


Herbert Bay, co-founder Earkick, Swisspreneur Podcast
October 19, 2023

EP #348 - Herbert Bay: Product Building from Start to Finish

Herbert Bay
49
English
Product
Product
No items found.

About Canay Deniz:

Canay Deniz is the co-founder and CEO at Ren, the intelligence tool that alerts you of actionable news about clients, prospects, and key contacts and helps you reach out in a timely and meaningful way. Canay holds a M.Sc. in Industrial Engineering & Business from ETH, and previously worked at the data intelligence company Teralytics before starting Ren in 2019.

His startup, Ren, which aims to systematize serendipity, was itself born out of a lucky coincidence: a friend of Canay introduced him to his now co-founder, Lionel Hertig, and this encounter led him to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

What is serendipity, you may ask? Generally, it’s defined as a happy coincidence, but for Ren’s purposes the concept (at least when applied to the business world) can be broken down into 3 main elements:

  1. Finding the right people: Usually instead of 1 database, we have several, stored in a bunch of different places. Ren helps you centralize your contacts and prioritizes different types of people based on your personal goals. If you regularly cold email C-level people, then Ren will know that a contact’s job position is an especially relevant piece of information to consider.  
  2. Reaching out to people at the right time: We have access to an unprecedented amount of information, but you can’t read everything all the time — it’s impossible to monitor the entire world. That’s why Ren has partnered with media organizations and built an AI that reads all the news for you. It selects news not based on your interests, but on your prospects’.
  3. Reaching out in the right context: It’s always best to sound like you have a pertinent reason to reach out to people, and aren’t just trying to land a quick sale. But how do you, for instance, find the news that impacts the company you care about but doesn’t directly mention it? Ren’s AI does it for you, and it also summarizes what happened and how it impacts your prospect.

Ren’s goal is to give sales a human face and make it pertinent and beneficial for all parties involved. And it’s not just useful for sales people: the fundamental act of selling is a skill required for many aspects of a company’s operations, like hiring and fundraising. Currently Ren is focused on the English-speaking market, which they feel is big enough (at least for now), and their target customer is a relationship-based senior professional handling big deals in their day to day.


Memorable Quotes:

“A random email from a buddy led me to becoming CEO of Ren.”

“Perfect is the enemy of done.”

“We need to be very careful not to confuse traction with being pulled in 5 different directions.”

Canay Deniz, co-founder Ren, Swisspreneur Podcast
October 12, 2023

EP #347 - Canay Deniz: Systematizing Luck to Push Sales

Canay Deniz
53
English
Sales & Marketing
Sales & Marketing
No items found.

Über Roland Brack:

Roland Brack ist Gründer des Onlinehändlers Brack.ch sowie Gründer und Inhaber der Firmengruppe Competec.

1994 gründete er studienbegleitend die Einzelfirma Brack Consulting. 1997 lancierte Brack unter brack.ch seinen Onlineshop, der sich in den folgenden Jahren zu einer der umsatzstärksten E-Commerce-Plattformen der Schweiz entwickelte. 2007 gründete Roland Brack die Competec-Gruppe, um bestehenden Tochtergesellschaften und künftigen Akquisitionen ein Dach zu geben. Zwischen 2007 und 2018 fungierte Brack als CEO der Competec-Gruppe. Aktuell ist er Präsident des Verwaltungsrats.

Die Förderung des Unternehmertums liegt Roland Brack stark am Herzen. Er betätigt sich seit längerem als Investor, Berater und Verwaltungsrat bei diversen Jungunternehmen. Seit 2019 wirkt er als Investor in der Schweizer Ausgabe von Die Höhle der Löwen mit. Sein Ziel ist es, Unternehmertum einer breiten Öffentlichkeit, insbesondere auch einem jungen Publikum als etwas Erstrebenswertes darzustellen.

Seit 2002 ist Roland Brack ein leidenschaftlicher Offroad-Rallyefahrer. Er erreichte mit seiner langjährigen Beifahrerin Carmen Hrup und seinem Team outofcontrol diverse Podestplätze bei Veranstaltungen in Europa und Nordafrika. 2013 hat das Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen in einer TV-Dokumentation Roland Brack an einer Rally in den Karpaten begleitet.


Memorable Quotes:

„Wenn der Kunde zufrieden ist, kommt Umsatz und Wachstum von alleine.“

„Wir waren die ersten in der Branche, welche die Lagerbestände öffentlich gemacht haben. Alle haben gesagt: „Spinnst du eigentlich?“

„Wenn das Glück vor der Türe steht, muss man bereit sein die Türe zu öffnen.“

Roland Brack, founder brack.ch, Swisspreneur Podcast
October 5, 2023

EP #346 - Roland Brack: Der Weg zu Brack.ch

Roland Brack
63
German
Growth & Scaling
Market & Customers
Growth & Scaling
Market & Customers
No items found.

About Adrian Krebs:

Adrian Krebs is the co-founder and CEO at Kadoa, a SaaS company providing AI-powered data extraction. He holds a MAS in Information Technology from Berner Fachhochschule BFH and previously built the shopping guide Looria.

Together with his co-founders, Johannes Engler and Tavis Lochhead, he created Kadoa in 2023 to address a pressing issue: the hours upon hours of tedious, manual data extraction work performed by freelancers across the globe. Kadoa’s AI technology lets you build data extraction workflows on autopilot, without fighting scrapers, mappers, or APIs. They launched it this year to take advantage of three converging factors:

  • Tech breakthrough: It wasn’t possible to automate such large extents of unstructured data until now, and it was very expensive and tedious to process it. 
  • The boom in (unstructured) data: 80% of all data is unstructured, and 80-90% of all data worldwide was produced within the last 2 years. 
  • During uncertain times, companies look for ways to cut costs. 

After building their product in 8 months and reaching CHF 100K ARR, the Kadoa team has a full sales pipeline. Their only bottleneck is human capital: there’s still only 3 people on the team. That’s why they’re raising CHF 1.5M, part of which through the Swisspreneur Syndicate, for a 24 month runway. With these funds the Kadoa founders intend to achieve product-market fit, acquire 30 new enterprise customers and reach break even. Check out the Swisspreneur Syndicate’s deal flow page on notion to find out more. 


Memorable Quote:

"80% of all data is unstructured, and 80-90% of all data worldwide was produced within the last 2 years."

Adrian Krebs, Kadoa co-founder and CEO, Swisspreneur Podcast
October 2, 2023

EP #345 - Adrian Krebs: AI & the Boom of Unstructured Data

Adrian Krebs
18
English
Growth & Scaling
Product
Fundraising
Growth & Scaling
Product
Fundraising
No items found.

About Tim Beck:

Tim Beck is the co-founder at BLP Digital, an ETH and HSG spin-off that uses AI to automate ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) processes. He attended both RWTH Aachen University and Georgia Tech. Before starting BLP Digital, he worked as a strategy consultant and specialist in digital business models and automation in the manufacturing industry. He has also successfully founded and managed three other startups, including the augmented reality startup CLIPTHIS.

Tim's entrepreneurial journey was shaped by his family background; his parents were both entrepreneurs, leading to daily exposure to business discussions, and it was a path that felt natural for him to follow. Despite this, he was not pressured to take over the family business and chose engineering and strategy consulting as his path.

BLP Digital, co-founded by Tim and his brother Sven, started with a sound footing because of the deep industry connections and technical expertise that came fromtheir parents being a part of the same industry. They initially focused on product development and engineering, bringing in co-founders with complementary skills to expand their market presence. BPL Digital's core offering revolves around machine learning to automate ERP processes, particularly document sharing between companies. They emphasize customer satisfaction, offering clients proof of concepts with actual data before committing them to services.

BPL Digital maintains control over its growth trajectory as a bootstrapped company, incentivizing employees with shares to foster a sense of ownership. Their ambition is to move from ground zero to an eventual IPO, reflecting an exciting journey ahead for the company. This episode sheds light on Tim Beck's entrepreneurial path, BPL Digital's unique approach to solving industry challenges, and their vision for the future.


Memorable Quotes:

“Bringing in 2 more CEOs later made sense for us when we wanted to enter the market, and find people with more valuable skills in this area”

“We consider ourselves a kind of a chat GPT for documents, as our system can read things it has never seen before.”

Tim Beck, BLP Digital co-founder, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 28, 2023

EP #344 - Tim Beck: Using AI to Automate ERP Processes

Tim Beck
45
English
Product
Business Model
Growth & Scaling
Product
Business Model
Growth & Scaling
No items found.

This episode was sponsored by ⁠⁠quitt.business⁠⁠.

About Tim Duehrkoop:

Tim Duehrkoop is the co-founder and CEO of Xilva, a cleantech startup building the digital infrastructure for forestry investments with a focus on enabling funding through holistic project assessments. He received a PhD from HSG in Business Administration and attended Stanford for an executive program for growing companies. Once he completed his studies, he joined a startup called Namics, where he worked for 24 years. During this time he witnessed the growth of  this small venture into a corporate powerhouse with 500 employees,  as well as its successful exit, which left him pondering his next move within the Swiss entrepreneur ecosystem. Driven by a profound passion for addressing climate issues rather than solely pursuing profits, he is set out to make a meaningful impact.

His path converged with a co-founder specializing in forestry, leading them to tackle climate change by addressing market inefficiencies within the Swiss startup network. Their action was motivated by increased feelings of climate grief, and by wanting to actively do something about it. They recognized reforestation as a highly scalable, proven solution for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. During his episode with us, Tim discussed the evolution of the Swiss investment market and the challenges faced by startups within the Swiss startup network seeking funding, particularly in Series A and Series B rounds. Despite the current funding climate presenting difficulties, he has remained optimistic, anticipating improved conditions in the near future for Swiss entrepreneurs.

Startups can play a pivotal role in the climate tech sector, and while acknowledging that startups alone cannot solve the climate crisis, Tim argues that they serve as crucial laboratories for discovering effective solutions within the Swiss entrepreneur landscape. Additionally, he discussed strategies for enhancing startup operations in this space, such as creating favorable tax environments, establishing grant programs, engaging with governmental support and how they target angel investors.

Memorable Quotes:

“Startups can do many things but they can’t solve climate change. However they are important elements to find out what works in order to make an impact, and they help to facilitate and further develop new solutions.”


“Green washing is committing to something but then it’s not really helping the environment. Green hushing means you don’t commit to anything and hope nobody notices, and Green waiting is waiting for an initiative to come along but then not spending anything in the meantime.”

Tim Duehrkoop, Xilva co-founder and CEO, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 21, 2023

EP #343 - Tim Duehrkoop: The Green Impact of Finance

Tim Duehrkoop
43
English
Growth & Scaling
Growth & Scaling
Market & Customers
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About Simon Krähenbühl and Silvia Nadenbousch:

⁠Simon Krähenbühl⁠ and ⁠Silvia Nadenbousch⁠ are the co-founders of ⁠ILEVE OPTICS⁠, an eyewear brand which consists of two separate lines: LARS Brillen, a prescription and sunglasses B2B brand sold to opticians across Switzerland, and ILEVE DISTRICT, a cycling eyewear brand sold directly to customers and through selected retail stores. Simon is responsible for Design and Product Development and holds a master's in Innovation, Industrial and Product Design, and Silvia is the Communications and Marketing head, with a master's in Business and Economics.

The idea for ILEVE came from Simon’s personal experience as a glasses wearer: his glasses kept sliding down his nose, so he decided to develop an innovative glass hinge which prevented this from happening. His hinge patent was the first technical development in terms of glasses hinges in decades, and that is why he and his co-founder Silvia don’t feel threatened by the amount of other eyewear brands out there. Most brands, say the co-founders of ILEVE, innovate only in terms of colors and shapes, whereas this Swiss-made brand brings true added value to the wearer. 

If eyewear is a market with plenty of competition, it also has a never ending stream of customers: as people age, most develop a need for glasses, and with the pervasive and constant use of mobile devices nowadays, short sightedness is equally on the rise.

ILEVE eyewear is designed, 3D-printed and assembled in Switzerland. Simon and Silvia have found this to be a valuable USP for their brand, since the association with the idea of Swiss-made quality really helps to build trust and convert people into buying customers.

ILEVE is currently raising a CHF 800K seed round, CHF 100K of which is being raised through the Swisspreneur Syndicate. The funds will be used to grow their team, fuel their expansion to Germany and a select number of European cities, and achieve the coveted B Corp certification. Check out the Swisspreneur Syndicate’s deal flow page on notion to find out more.



Memorable Quotes:

"We know we can’t save the world with glasses. But we want to take responsibility for the sustainability of our products." Simon Krähenbühl

"Building a sustainable B2C brand with a low budget is definitely a challenge, but at the same time it keeps us creative." Silvia Nadenbousch

Simon Krähenbühl & Silvia Nadenbousch, ILEVE Optics co-founders, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 18, 2023

EP #342 - Simon Krähenbühl & Silvia Nadenbousch: Swiss-Made Eyewear for a Sustainable Future

Simon Krähenbühl & Silvia Nadenbousch
26
English
Product
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This episode was sponsored by ⁠quitt.business⁠.

About Daniel Meyer and Marie So:

Daniel Meyer⁠ and ⁠Marie So⁠ are the co-founders and CEO and CSO, respectively, of ⁠EGO Movement⁠. EGO Movement was founded in 2015 and provides smart, connected mobility solutions that are stylish, sustainable, and affordable. Daniel has a master's degree from ETH in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology and founded his first startup during university. He later spent 8 years in Hong Kong, Vietnam and China in various senior management positions for Swiss multinational DKSH, and his last role was as Vice President of their second largest business in China. Daniel also was the Chairman of the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce for 2 years and member of several board of directors in China and South East Asia. Marie graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School with a master's degree in Public Administration and International Development, and a bachelor's degree in Economics, Engineering and Management Science from Northwestern University. She also attended the United World College of the Pacific (UWC). She previously co-founded Shokay and Ventures in Development, a non-profit that catalyses the creation of social enterprises in the greater China region. She also previously worked for the United Nations Development Programme, Dubai Development and Investment Authority, Procter & Gamble and Merrill Lynch. Marie is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader as well as an Echoing Green Fellow 2008 and Asia 21 Young Leader 2008.

They are also romantic partners and share their experience of running a business together since 2015, highlighting how their differing skills and personalities complement each other. They blur the line between personal and professional life, constantly brainstorming new ideas and improvements for their brand.

Ego Movement stands out in the market with its fusion of lifestyle and technology in e-bikes, featuring GPS and remote unlocking via an app. Sustainability is at the forefront, as they showcase how e-bike users save 275kg of CO2 equivalents per year, making it an eco-friendly choice. They give insight into their pricing strategy, emphasizing affordability compared to cars and their commitment to a sustainable supply chain. Marie and Daniel sold their majority shares in 2021 to TVS, one of the 5 largest 2-wheeler manufacturers globally, paving the way for rapid growth and international expansion, with a focus on making e-bikes not just a mode of transport but a lifestyle choice.



Memorable Quotes:

“We have very different personalities and skills, but they complement each other, as well as a strong trust - that is very special because not every couple can do it.’

“Customer experience is very important for us, so opening a flagship lifestyle store was a step we felt was beneficial for the brand, which not every business considers a risk worth taking.” 

Daniel Meyer and Marie So, EGO Movement co-founders and CEO & CSO, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 14, 2023

EP #341 - Daniel Meyer and Marie So: Stylish and Sustainable

Daniel Meyer and Marie So
40
English
Culture
Sales & Marketing
Growth & Scaling
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About Jon Eisler:

Jon Eisler is the co-founder & CEO of Everyman, who are improving access to men's health through digital innovation. Jon received a BA in Business Administration from St.Gallen. After that, he went to LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science), where he completed a master's in finance and private equity. He also did an MBA at Stanford.

Jon's entrepreneurial journey began with a deeply personal experience during his late teens. Struggling with sexual health issues and a distorted view of masculinity, he recognized the need for a stigma-free space to access medical information and treatment remotely and decided to start Everyman. Their purpose is to provide individuals with secure and comfortable access to healthcare, especially for more awkward medical conditions. 

Jon identifies two key factors contributing to their success. Firstly, the digital transformation accelerated by COVID-19 has made telemedicine more accessible than ever. Secondly, Everyman introduces a flexible telemedicine model that eliminates traditional healthcare constraints, aligning with shifting consumer preferences.

Within six months, they launched the platform and initiated sales, seamlessly connecting patients, doctors, and pharmacies. Their approach bridges the gap between telemedicine and online pharmacies, setting them apart in the Swiss market. While Everyman faces the challenges of navigating strict healthcare regulations, they remain confident in their technological prowess and adaptability as they expand into new markets. Having raised 900,000 CHF and seeking an additional 300,000 CHF, Everyman aims to strengthen their positioning in Switzerland and later branch into various other vertical markets like hair loss treatments, skin care, weight loss, and hormone therapies. 


Memorable Quotes:

“The purpose of our company is to change the distorted image men often have of sexuality and provide a safe and accessible environment to talk about these normal but awkward issues.”

“We wanted to create a fully integrated platform between doctors, pharmacies, and patients, and that is something that does not yet exist in Switzerland in a synchronous way.”

Jon Eisler, Everyman co-founder & CEO, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 11, 2023

EP #340 - Jon Eisler: Providing Telemedicine for Every Man

Jon Eisler
22
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About Loulia Kassem:

Loulia Kassem is the co-founder and CEO of Rea Diagnostics, a medtech company that created a device to help pregnant women and their doctors monitor the risk of pre-term birth. Originally from Syria, she received a bachelor's degree from Arab International University in Pharmacy. After that, she started her first company at 21 in Damascus called BMP Pharm, which distributed essential medicines and nose sprays in Syrian hospitals. Unfortunately, the Syrian war meant that she could not continue her business, so Loulia chose to leave the country and pursue a master's abroad. She received a master's degree in pharmaceutical biotechnology from the University of Bologna and did her thesis through EPFL, which inspired her to move to Switzerland.

Loulia's entrepreneurial drive finds its roots in her family's legacy of entrepreneurship. Her father, in particular, was pivotal in nurturing her entrepreneurial spirit. This early exposure gave her the confidence to become an entrepreneur at such a young age, and instilled in her the belief that she could always be active and productive in making a positive difference in the world.

After moving to Switzerland and meeting her co-founder while completing her thesis, she knew it was the place she would call home and where she could start REA Diagnostics. REA Diagnostics has developed a unique approach to address pre-term birth, detecting specific biomarkers in a woman's body during pregnancy. These biomarkers are proteins that can indicate the likelihood of pre-term birth. Traditionally, biomarker testing required invasive procedures, often administered in a hospital setting, limiting accessibility and convenience. REA Diagnostics is committed to making these diagnostic tests accessible from the comfort of a woman's home.

By giving women the means to monitor their pregnancy health quickly and precisely, REA Diagnostics' product acts as a crucial red flag, alerting patients and doctors to potential risks. This early detection can significantly increase the chances of a safe and healthy pregnancy, ultimately leading to a brighter future for mothers and their newborns. They are still in the process of being approved to perform clinical trials and testing the device. However, they hope to get it to market as soon as possible and into pharmacies and hospitals all over Switzerland and beyond. 



Memorable Quotes:


“It’s very rewarding to create something from scratch, especially something that has the potential to change people’s lives.”


“People don’t talk about how difficult it is to have a pre-term birth. If the child survives,  they have life-long complications, and even one extra day in the womb can cause a host of issues if the patient is unaware.

Loulia Kassem, Rea Diagnostics CEO and co-founder, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 7, 2023

EP #339 - Loulia Kassem: Making an Impact from Syria to Switzerland

Loulia Kassem
31
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Early Stage
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Early Stage
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About Carlo Badini, Jeremias Meier, Flavio Pfaffhauser and Aileen Zumstein:

Carlo Badini is the founder and CEO of Pabio, a company that gets your apartment fully furnished by a professional interior designer and rents high-quality furniture on a monthly subscription. He has a degree in Business Administration from the University of Bern and participated in the Y combinator startup accelerator program.

Jeremias Meier is a partner at session.vc and co-founded bexio, which streamlines administration services. He has a degree in Business Administration from St.Gallen. 

Flavio Pfaffhauser is co-founder and CIO at Beekeeper, an all-in-one frontline success system. Flavio received both his qualifications from ETH, a bachelor's and a master's in Computer Science. 

Lastly, Aileen Zumstein is a co-founder and board member at v-oice, a company for new and innovative business ideas. She studied economics at the University of Basel and has a master’s from the University of Zurich in communications.

The group delved deep into the often lonely entrepreneurial journey, filled with both triumphs and tribulations. Our guests shared their vulnerabilities, highlighting the challenges they faced when they embarked on their respective ventures. While building his business in Zurich, Jeremias felt isolated as his friends pursued prestigious consulting and banking careers, questioning his choices. Aileen spoke of the struggle to establish the value of her communication company, dealing with doubts, and the intensity of partnerships. Flavio discussed his initial hesitation about his dating business and the impact of his father's failed business venture on his decision. Carlo emphasized the constant need to address problems as a CEO and the associated loneliness.

The other main point during the discussion was how successful entrepreneurs cope with the persistent fear of running out of money. Carlo experienced many sleepless nights worrying about this issue, describing the ceaseless problem-solving that comes with being a CEO. Flavio added impatience to his sense of isolation, especially during the search for product-market fit. Despite her support network, Aileen admitted feeling lonely, particularly during tough decisions, like parting ways with a business partner. She emphasized the need for alone time to balance her energy. Jeremias felt isolated from his non-entrepreneurial friends, who couldn't fully grasp the startup journey's ups and downs.

This episode was created in cooperation with ⁠EO Zurich⁠.


Memorable Quotes:

“Being humble is a virtue — you aren’t as important as you believe, and most things are out of your control anyway.” - Carlo Badini

“It can feel really lonely to never be asked how you are, because people assume professional success means personal well-being.” - Aileen Zumstein

Carlo Badini, Jeremias Meier, Flavio Pfaffhauser & Aileen Zumstein, Pabio, bexio, Beekeeper & v-oice co-founders and CEO, Swisspreneur Podcast
September 4, 2023

EP #338 - The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

Carlo Badini, Jeremias Meier, Flavio Pfaffhauser & Aileen Zumstein
47
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About Philipp Stauffer, Myriam Locher & Flavio Pfaffhauser:


Philipp Stauffer is the co-founder and Managing Director of FYRFLY Venture Partners, an early-stage technology venture firm. Myriam Locher is the co-CEO of Locatee, a workplace analytics solution that transforms complex data into space utilization insights. Flavio Pfaffhauser is the co-founder and CIO at Beekeeper, which is changing how frontline businesses work. Philipp has a degree in Microeconomics from the University of Applied Sciences Zurich and an MBA in finance from the Wharton School. Myriam has a bachelor's in Economics from St. Gallen, and Flavio received both his qualifications from ETH, a bachelor's and a master's in computer science.

Our guests gave great insights into managing a startup, even during difficult times, and ways to navigate uncertainty, achieve profitability, take care of employees during challenging times, and adapt to changing growth patterns. They all stressed the importance of adaptability and customer-centricity, and spoke of the resilience of Swiss startups.

Phillip's main insights involve the experience of transitioning from being a co-founder to becoming an investor, and he highlights how investors are not moving to the "dark side" by moving away from building the company, but instead shifting their perspective of the business world. He is now based in California with FYRFLY.

Myriam, who has been involved with several startups, including DeinDeal and Star Global, has a wealth of experience in entrepreneurship. She talks about the evolving trends in the past two decades, particularly the growing necessity to seek US investments and relocate intellectual properties due to resource limitations in Switzerland, and underscores their global reputation for precision and thoroughness.

Lastly, Flavio sheds light on why Switzerland is an ideal home base for entrepreneurs. He cites excellent customer referrals, access to top talent, abundant capital, and of course, Swiss chocolate!

Memorable Quotes:

"During hard times, having a good trustworthy team is the most important thing, and with them you should never sugarcoat the truth” - Philipp Stauffer

“Taking time to listen is difficult:  it always feels like there is never enough time. But this is something you have to prioritize in order to optimize your work environment.” - Myriam Locher

Philipp Stauffer, Myriam Locher & Flavio Pfaffhauser, FYRFLY, Locatee & Beekeeper co-founders and CEOs, Swisspreneur Podcast
August 31, 2023

Ep #337 - Managing Startups in Difficult Times

Philipp Stauffer, Myriam Locher & Flavio Pfaffhauser
28
English
Culture
Growth & Scaling
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About Raffaello D'Andrea:

Raffaello D'Andrea is the co-founder and CEO of Verity, a robotics company specializing in self-flying drones that conduct warehouse inspections. He was born in Italy but moved to Canada during his childhood and, later in life, completed all his studies in North America. Starting with a BSc in engineering from the University of Toronto and, after that, a Masters' and a PhD in electrical engineering, both from Caltech. After his PhD, he started teaching at Cornell, which paved the way for his leap into entrepreneurship with his first startup, Kiva.

During a sabbatical from MIT, where he also taught, he met a fellow entrepreneur with an idea for a robotics-focused venture. It ignited their fire to start designing the software for how these drones would work, and Kiva was born and would inform the idea for Verity as well. While they have a faction of the business focused on live events, their main focus is warehouse inspection. 

Kiva was bought and rebranded by Amazon, changing its name to Amazon Robotics, and Rafaello was thrilled with the outcome, but he was also ready to move onto the next project and build something new, and discovering how much potential there was in the warehouse inspection space was a game changer. As a leader in autonomous systems, Verity transitioned from hardware-heavy operations to software-based subscriptions, maintaining its hardware capabilities but streamlining its implementation. As the company focuses on expansion and perhaps eventually gaining an IPO or an exit, Raffaello is just enjoying the process of building and being a part of Verity.


Memorable quotes:

"Failure not being an option is a value that is relevant no matter what part of the business it is applying to, whether an inspection or live event.”

“After selling Kiva to Amazon, I could have gone back to teaching, but making an impact is my biggest focus and made me want to continue on an entrepreneurial path."

Raffaello D’Andrea, Verity co-founder and CEO, Swisspreneur Podcast
August 24, 2023

EP #336 - Raffaello D’Andrea: Developing an Amazing Product as a Guidepost

Raffaello D’Andrea
40
English
Business Model
Competition
Exit
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Exit
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About Fred Destin:


Fred Destin is the founder of Stride Venture Capital, an artisan venture capital fund focused primarily on the U.K. and France. He received his Master's from Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management and later got his MBA at HKUST Business School in Hong Kong. Starting his career at J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs after that, in an associate and executive director role respectively, gave him solid foundations for the rest of his career, and he has been a board member and investor for many different startups.

Drawing from a Samurai's meditative approach, he emphasizes the art of handling chaos and making high-speed decisions while staying grounded in your startup's mission. Navigating co-founder dynamics and instilling well-defined company values becomes paramount as Fred shares insights on building robust teams and fostering a culture of openness. 

He reminds us that true impact comes from honest conversations and dissent, the mantra of Strive V.C., and underscores the significance of co-designing products with customers to avoid assumptions that can lead you astray, as well as the importance of always speaking up. Fred's advice extends to embracing curiosity over stress, safeguarding against burnout, and recognizing the crucial role of mentors during tough times. Strive is raising their second fund after the first raised £124M, and it’s only up from there.


Memorable quotes:


“With a co-founder, you need to get to know each other on a deep level so that you know you will be able to handle whatever situation the company faces.”
“I can’t repeat this enough - we should design alongside our users and customers as closely as possible to find out what they need, versus what we think they need.”

Fred Destin, Stride VC founder, Swisspreneur Podcast
August 17, 2023

EP #335 - Fred Destin: The Importance of Well-Designed Company Values

Fred Destin
28
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About Judith Häberli:


Judith Häberli is the co-founder and COO of Urban Connect, which offers low-emission shared mobility solutions for companies. Judith's path to entrepreneurship was nonlinear: she first studied acting at the European Film Actor School but later ventured into Economics and completed a degree at the University of Zurich. Urban Connect started as a side project while she was studying, but the team soon identified the potential of outsourcing e-bike services and knew they needed to make the company their full-time job.

30% of emissions in Switzerland come from auto traffic, and Urban Connect's mission to combat climate change through low-emission mobility solutions for companies is the way they want to help make an impact. Their primary focus is on e-bikes, but they also provide e-cars as a solution. If a company already has a fleet of vehicles, they try and advise them on more sustainable mobility choices. Google was one of their first clients, which was a significant first step to creating a respectable and trustworthy reputation.  

While starting the company she had 3 children with her husband and fellow co-founder, and in her episode with us Judith shared insights about that time, which was often stressful and challenging. Still, they were lucky to receive invaluable support from family and friends so they could also focus on building their business and maintaining some work/life balance. Now, she stepped down from the position of CEO to focus more on general management as COO, and her husband, Robert, has taken over the position of CEO.

Memorable quotes:

“It’s good to have common goals in both your personal and business relationship - it makes it easier to switch off and remind ourselves we’re also a family, and not just a business.”

“30% of emissions comes from auto traffic in Switzerland, so convincing companies that this is an important service to subsidize for their employees is not as challenging.”

Judith Häberli, Urban Connect co-founder and COO, Swisspreneur Podcast
August 10, 2023

EP #334 - Judith Häberli: Making Moves for Accessible Mobility

Judith Häberli
58
English
Business Model
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About Marc Seidel:

Marc Seidel is a co-initiator & strategy manager at AltAlpha Strategies, which provides innovative and effective alternative investment strategies and advisory services. He has a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Zurich, and a Masters' in Business Innovation from St. Gallen, as well as additional qualifications as a visiting graduate from Oxford and Stanford, in politics and management sciences, respectively. 

Crypto is an alternative investment, alongside other assets like art and real estate, and it has the appealing and captivating angle of being decentralized. Marc highlights the recent implosion in the volatile crypto market as a cautionary tale for investors and emphasizes the importance of understanding the risks involved. He also discusses the significance of uncorrelated assets in portfolio construction, showcasing the incredible performance of commodities and the diverse landscape of alternative investments.

He explores the evolving segments within the crypto space, including decentralized finance (DeFi) and gaming, while delving into the potential of stablecoin in promoting financial inclusion. Marc emphasizes the need for active management in the crypto market and discusses AltAlpha Strategies' upcoming low-fee early investment fund, which aims to align incentives for investors. He provides valuable insights into alternative investments and cryptocurrencies, guiding investors to understand the potential opportunities and risks in this dynamic and ever-evolving landscape.

Memorable quotes:

“The great thing about alternative investments is that they are not correlated to stock exchange fluctuations. You don’t want all the assets in your portfolio to go up/down simultaneously, you want a balance that lets you cover your losses.”

“Alternative investments are things like real estate, art, commodities, and blockchain assets, so pretty much anything other than your run of the mill stocks and bonds.”

Marc Seidel, AltAlpha Strategies Co-initiator & strategy manager, Swisspreneur Podcast
August 3, 2023

EP #333 - Marc Seidel: Alternative Investing & Cautionary Tales

Marc Seidel
48
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About Tigran Petrosyan:


Tigran Petrosyan is the co-founder and president of SuperAnnotate, an end-to-end platform to annotate, version, and manage data for your AI. He spent much of his life in academia, starting with a Bachelor's in Physics from Yerevan State University in his home country, Armenia, followed by a Master's in Physics from ETH and then a PhD in Biomedical Imaging from the University of Bern, but dropped out shortly before finishing it to start SuperAnnotate with his brother, Vahan. 

He was drawn to Switzerland for its exceptional study opportunities and found his passion for AI during his time at ETH Zurich. While he was doing his PhD, Tigran and his brother entered an expo with an early prototype of the SuperAnnotate management system, where they not only won but gained investment traction, which clearly signaled to Tigran that they needed to start a company as soon as possible, even if it meant not completing his PhD.

Being brothers and co-founders, Tigran and Vahan emphasize the advantages of their strong bond and collaborative decision-making. Today, their company caters to key industries such as healthcare, big tech, and robotics. They want to continue driving innovation in AI data management, and their goals for expansion are ambitious.


Memorable quotes:

“When you get so excited about the tech that you don't even finish your PhD in order to start the company, investors can see how committed you are to it”


“Just because your business starts off with hype, doesn’t mean you are guaranteed success. That was a really humbling experience for us.”

Tigran Petrosyan, SuperAnnotate co-founder and president, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 27, 2023

EP #332 - Tigran Petrosyan: Farewell PhD, Hello AI

Tigran Petrosyan
37
English
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About Omar Bawa: 

Omar Bawa is the co-founder and COO of Goodwall, whose mission is to level the professional playing field for youth globally, helping 2m+ young talent in 150+ countries develop skills, showcase skills, and connect to opportunity. He received a law degree from the University of Geneva and also completed a qualification in product design and innovative thinking from Stanford University.

Growing up, Omar had diverse career aspirations, initially in particle physics, but a teacher later inspired him to pursue law instead. With a vision to make a difference in the world, he co-founded Goodwall with his brother Taha Bawa, driven by their upbringing in a humanitarian family. They would often spend summer vacations visiting refugee camps with their parents, which exposed them to a very different way of life compared to their experience of growing up in Switzerland.

Goodwill aims to level the playing field for youth globally by providing a platform that educates and mobilizes students to address global issues. The unique blend of LinkedIn and TikTok resonates with Gen Z and empowers them to showcase their skills and connect with job opportunities at established companies. Most importantly, Goodwall equips young people with transferable skills through skill development programs to navigate an evolving job market. The company's push for international expansion reflects its global vision, while the team remains grateful for its support from the Swiss ecosystem.

Despite the option to establish a non-profit, Omar chose a for-profit model, leveraging the power of technology and social networking to scale their impact. Sharing this same perspective and values with his co-founder and brother Taha, they have created a strong business partnership that keeps them driven and excited to continue expanding globally and making a meaningful impact. 



Memorable quotes:

“Trust is key to running a business, and working with my brother gives me confidence and the peace of mind of knowing that he always has my back.”

“Building a social enterprise to help people is what drives us, but ultimately ROI is the way to create a sustainable business model, and the reason we chose the for-profit model.”

Omar Bawa, Goodwall co-founder and COO, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 20, 2023

Ep #331 - Omar Bawa: When LinkedIn Met TikTok

Omar Bawa
31
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About Deana Mohr-Haralampieva: 

Deana Mohr-Haralampieva is the CEO & co-founder at MUVON Therapeutics, a groundbreaking startup developing a therapeutic platform for the regeneration of skeletal muscle tissue. With a background in radiopharmaceutical sciences, tissue engineering, and STEM cell therapies, Deana has extensive research experience, including a Master of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology  from the University of Konstanz, and she continued to focus on tissue repair therapy with a Ph.D. from ETH.

She boldly transitioned into the startup world, driven by her passion for bringing innovative solutions to life. MUVON Therapeutics was originally  a life science spin-off  from the University of Zurich developing a therapeutic platform for regenerating skeletal muscle tissue based on autologous cells, repairing damaged tissue, and increasing the regenerative potential of weakened muscles. Their initial area of focus  was the treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women, supporting them respectfully throughout their journey to a healthier and better quality of life. 

The societal challenges surrounding women in STEM fields are a constant obstacle for female founders in these fields. The need for increased female representation and dispelling stereotypes is as relevant as ever, as Deana herself has encountered misconceptions about her work, but she has also experienced firsthand the progress made in this regard, witnessing a positive shift in the number of women joining STEM courses.

The goal for MUVON Therapeutics is to continue making strides in regenerative medicine and open up trials for more varied groups of women to have access to this therapy, and to also make it accessible for men. The long-term goal would be international reach by expanding to the US and the rest of Europe.


Memorable quotes:

"Pharma can be a scarier world than the startup world, but our project was already on the go, so we decided to stay onboard and see it through: and here we are!"

"Seeing the muscle fibers twitching in the lab, I knew this would work, and we decided to make it happen."

Deana Mohr-Haralampieva, MUVON Therapeutics CEO and co-founder, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 13, 2023

EP #330 - Deana Mohr-Haralampieva: Tissue Engineering to Solve Incontinence

Deana Mohr-Haralampieva
30
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Growth & Scaling
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Early Stage
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About Péter Fankhauser:

Péter Fankhauser is the CEO and co-founder at ANYbotics, a robotics company that develops autonomous robots for industrial inspections. He started his robotics journey at ETH Zurich, receiving a Master's and Ph.D. in Robotics. The idea for the company was ignited by a project he worked on during his time at ETH.

ANYbotics has crafted two types of business models: the first is Robots as a Service (RaaS), which allows customers to hire a robot with comprehensive hardware, software, and service support within the inspection space, and the second is for customers who opt to purchase the robot and software as a lifetime license. This approach varies based on geographical factors and budget allocation strategies. Regardless of the chosen model, ANYbotics focuses on enabling customers to optimize their workforce and allocate human resources to value-adding, creative, and decision-making activities. Notably, the concern that robots will replace the human workforce is not really relevant in this specific industry, since the jobs performed are so hazardous that not many human workers are currently willing to perform them at all. An added benefit to switching to robots, besides human safety and well-being, is the improved accuracy in gathering data.

ANYbotics' customers have discovered another unexpected benefit of incorporating robots into their operations – recruitment. By showcasing their use of cutting-edge robotics, companies attract young talent by offering the opportunity to become plant operators and robotics operators. This unique selling point highlights the innovative nature of the work environment and adds an attractive dimension to the job. It's a testament to the fact that robotics is not about replacing people but empowering and collaborating with them.

Péter and his team at ANYbotics recognize that their vision has a global reach. With the high entry barriers and immense potential of the robotics industry, their ambitions lie in becoming international leaders in the field. By striving to be the best globally, ANYbotics aims to drive down costs, expand its reach, and support customers globally. The goal is to establish a sizable company capable of meeting the demands of thousands of robots, ultimately positioning ANYbotics as a world leader in the industry.

From robotics as a service to attracting talent through its cutting-edge technology, ANYbotics continues to disrupt the industry while maintaining a robust partnership approach, hoping to witness international success and perhaps even do an IPO.

Memorable quotes:

“We decided we wanted to be a product and robotics solution company versus a research company, and part of that is really understanding the customer problem.”

“I was always building things when I was a kid, and all I would think was, ‘how can I help people with this, market this and get it out into the world?’ ’’

Péter Fankhauser, ANYbotics CEO and co-founder, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 6, 2023

EP #329 - Péter Fankhauser: Robotics as a Service

Péter Fankhauser
40
English
Internationalization
Business Model
Early Stage
Internationalization
Business Model
Early Stage
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About Cédric Waldburger:

Cédric Waldburger describes himself as a startup investor, an essentialist, and an explorer, and from a young age he knew he wanted to start his own ventures: his first was at 14. He went on to get a degree in Electrical Engineering from ETH Zurich. He has built and sold companies in various creative, consumer, and blockchain spaces, giving him a wealth of experience. In 2020 he co-founded Tomahawk, which provides early-stage venture investments to Web3-focused entrepreneurs.

 

A true digital nomad and adventurer at heart, Cédric decided to fulfill his childhood dream: after spending a lot of time reading the Guinness world book of records, he set his sights on one of the challenges, which was to travel to as many countries as possible in 24 hours. He succeeded by going to 32 countries. This adventurous but calculated spirit comes across in his investment style, which follows a system that values consistency and structure, and always investing with intuition versus emotion.

 

He is continually assessing the markets and predicting where he can. Still, he doesn’t let it worry him anymore – he focuses on building long-term and trusts that keeping an eye on things, building relationships, and trusting his gut is enough to manage his investments well and hopefully get into real estate in the future. Real estate excites him because the investment opportunities are always increasing and rarely decrease, and thus it’s an industry that’s fundamentally longer term.

Memorable quotes:

It can be dangerous to get FOMO when you’re an investor.”

“Avoid buying when prices are high and selling when they’re low. Don’t let emotions distract you.”

Cédric Waldburger, Tomahawk venture partner, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 3, 2023

EP #328 - Cédric Waldburger: Extreme Traveling, Calculated Investing

Cédric Waldburger
47
English
Growth & Scaling
Internationalization
Growth & Scaling
Internationalization
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About Jan Lichtenberg:

Jan Lichtenberg is the CEO and board member of InSphero, a medtech company specializing in 3D printed models used for in vitro testing with easy-to-use solutions for producing, culturing, and assessing more organotypic 3D cell culture models. He has a solid scientific background of 10 total years of study, beginning with an MS in Microtechnology from the University of Bremen, followed by a Masters in Microelectronics from EPFL, and then completing his Ph.D. at Université de Neuchâtel in Microtechnology and Microfluidics.

It took 10 years to develop the InSphero 3D model, from conception to iterative research, to finally creating the in vitro tissue. The company came to fruition shortly after the 2008 financial crash, but this was nonetheless the right time for the InSphero team, as pharmaceutical companies desperately needed new and innovative ideas to rejuvenate their brands in those challenging times.

 

One of the company's main goals is to play a part in eradicating animal testing, for both ethical and reliability reasons. This will take many years, but offering alternative solutions like their 3D in vitro models is a start in allowing for more accurate testing and preventing unnecessary harm to animals. This is all the more important considering that animals often do not biologically react in the same way as humans, and so that animal testing is actually not that reliable. 

Their business model is twofold: on one hand, they provide their 3D models to clients who do their own in-house testing, and on the other hand, they also provide them to clients who prefer to conduct testing at the InSphero labs. Correctly transporting tissue is tricky, so conducting research in-house has the added benefit of eliminating the possibility of compromised tissues. Currently InSphero is leaning strongly towards the US market, and Jan travels there every 6 - 8 weeks to keep his ear to the ground. For now, their main priority is the company's growth and expansion, but they hope to one day do an IPO.

Memorable quotes:

“When starting a company, you have to either do it on a shoestring or go all in, but you  need to decide that beforehand.”

“It’s not about the money in the bank, but about the interest customers have in your product.”

Jan Lichtenberg, InSphero CEO, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 29, 2023

EP #327 - Jan Lichtenberg: Replacing Animal Testing with 3D Printed Models

Jan Lichtenberg
46
English
Business Model
Fundraising
Business Model
Fundraising
No items found.

About Frank Floessel:

As a serial entrepreneur, investor, and coach, ⁠Frank Floessel⁠ has had a rich and wide-ranging career, starting from his university days at ETH Zurich, where he received a Master's in electrical engineering and co-founded and was the first president of ETH Juniors, which has been helping university graduates and students with part-time project work. He extended this idea and founded a second venture, Tempobrain AG, an HR company for InhouseOutsourcing and Salesforces in retail. He is an alum of MIT's Birthing of Giants leadership course. Now he has taken a step back from being an associate Partner at the Austrian VC company Venionaire Capital to return to his Alma Mater as the Head of ETH Entrepreneurship. 

His focus on the importance of company values is a huge part of his ethos. It is how he has coached other CEOs to run their companies in similar ways, especially by giving insight into mistakes he made during his career that were huge lessons, as well as sharing other things he is proud to have implemented, like hierarchical dynamics. Values are core to having employees who enjoy working at your company, feel you are transparent, and think you live up to your word. These are essential lessons he wants to share with other CEOs, and he also encourages them to maintain a healthy work/life balance, which he admits can be challenging to do in the early stages of your career.

Now that his focus has shifted to his new role at ETH as Head of Entrepreneurship, he can contribute to helping foster the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Memorable quotes:

I think entrepreneurship is kind of magic: you have an idea, you make a business plan, and in the end somebody is willing to give you money for that.”

“Two of the key lessons of entrepreneurship are that failure is not an option, and that timing is really important.”


Resource:

⁠The Prof G Pod with Scott Galloway interviewing Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky⁠

Frank Floessel, ETH Head of Entrepreneurship, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 22, 2023

EP #326 - Frank Floessel: Prioritizing Company Values

Frank Floessel
57
English
Hiring & Firing
Operations
Culture
Hiring & Firing
Operations
Culture
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