1:16 - An international background
5:00 - 3 crucial factors for a good investment
10:23 - Losing an investment
16:30 - Launching a student fund
23:42 - How they pick the students
In 2012, Cynthia left the path of management consulting to become Head of Investment Strategy and Portfolio Management at Neue Zürcher Zeitung. This was when she also started her journey as a business angel — as of now, her points of focus are healthcare and sustainability, two traditional fields that could really benefit from extra impact and entrepreneurial innovation according to Cynthia.
However, Cynthia's endeavors didn't end there! She realized how universities were often contacted by outside professional funds, but were lacking in cross-campus initiatives. Following the footsteps of American role models such as the Dorm Room Fund, S2S knows how the upcoming generations can lead the way to innovation, because they have an unbiased view on tech trends and are close to their peers and vital infrastructures, such as research centers and university clubs. The project doesn't thrive from any connection to established angel clubs, but receives its funding exclusively from board members and private investors interested in academic funds.
At S2S, students are not only the focus of investment practices, but they run the fund themselves! Two students from each major university are chosen for membership. Their learning process is completely autonomous: they are the ones contacting early-stage startups with no limited industry focus and deciding the ticket sizes, which can range from 20-150k CHF. Change is never a problem: the constant renewing of students benefits the initiative with fresh ideas each academic year. As new campus funds spring across Europe, Cynthia is keen on keeping her ideals of transparency while hoping her project soon expands internationally.
Brené Brown's leadership advice
"No investment has zero risks or weaknesses. You always find something."
“With Series A startups, you evaluate it a bit differently, because you can make more fact-checking, you have more numbers to look at. You get to have a more structured and analytical approach. In pre-seed stage, you invest in the future of the company, and mostly in the team’s ability to realize that future.”
If you would like to listen to more conversations on student funds, check out our episode with Edouard Treccani.
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