01:55 - Getting into entrepreneurship
09:16 - IFJ, Venturelab and Venture Kick
17:34 - Where the name "Venture Kick" comes from
33:05 - The importance of foundations
45:12 - Where the Swiss ecosystem is headed
Jordi Montserrat and Beat Schillig are the co-founders of Venturelab, a set of flagship startup programs to support the best entrepreneurial talents in Switzerland, including Venture Kick, Venture Leaders, the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award, and Innosuisse Startup Trainings. Jordi holds a MSc in Rural Engineering/Geomatics from EPFL and previously worked at companies like ITV Geomatik and PSE Parc Scientifique. Beat holds a BA in Marketing from HSG, is the Founder and President of IFJ - Startup Support, and has been investing privately in startups since 2001.
Venturelab was created by Jordi and Beat back in 2004. It began as the National Entrepreneurial Training initiative, which was mandated by the Swiss Innovation Agency to IFJ, the Institute for Young Entrepreneurs, based in St. Gallen. Today, Venturelab operates as an independent spin-off of IFJ. It arose out of a basic problem: Swiss startups would highly benefit from business training, but as they are startups, they cannot afford it. Jordi and Beat decided to create a startup program which would get funds from generous third parties interested in working with startups, and thus be able to train startups “for free”. They receive funding from big corporations, like Swisscom and Post Finance, but also from philanthropic foundations like Gebert Rüf.
Different branches of the Venture family focus on different things: Venturelab serves to develop the startup’s pre-seed idea, IFJ helps startups with incorporation and other legal issues, and Venture Kick “kicks” them out onto the big bad world of investors, customers and competitors. They receive over 700 applications every year, and look at aspects like founder background, founder values and the viability of the business idea itself in order to select the startups they would like to work with.
For the time being they have no ambitions of going beyond Switzerland. First they feel they must encourage a higher percentage of Swiss PhD graduates to go into entrepreneurship. But their results so far are by no means unimpressive: out of the CHF 4b raised in Switzerland raised by startups, CHF 1.6b was raised by Venture Kick alumni, and 90% of all Swiss startups have somehow participated in Venturelab initiatives.
"Foundations are much quicker in their decision making process than the state, and they’re free to make much bolder investments."
"The money raised in Switzerland by startups has risen to CHF 4b. CHF 1.6b of that amount was raised by Venture Kick alumni."
If you would like to check out our previous Gebert Rüf bonus episodes, check out our conversation with Tobias Kistler and Igor Fisch.
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