7:02 - Building a startup in 2008
14:08 - Selling to several different industries
18:06 - Growth to SME level
20:25 - The cultural fit
32:38 - The Sparks IPO Academy
Manuel Aschwanden is the co-founder and CEO at Optotune, a company which develops optical components that allow customers around the globe to innovate. Prior to Optotune, Manuel has gained experience in engineering at Avalon and ABB, and he holds an MSc in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Nanotechnology from ETH Zurich.
Founded in 2008, Optotune started out with their core technology of focus tunable lenses, which was inspired by the working principle of the human eye. Laser speckle reducers, 2D mirrors, tunable prisms and beam shifters have been more recent additions to their product lines. The fact that they created their company right at the height of the 2008 financial crisis turned out to be an advantage rather than a disadvantage, because a fair number of talented people at the time found themselves out of a job.
Nowadays Optotune serves several industries, from space tech all the way to consumer applications. They recently participated in the SIX Sparks IPO training program and are planning on going public sometime soon. In Manuel’s view, going public means profitability becomes all the more imperative, and also that creativity is sometimes sacrificed due to pressure from public opinion. Nonetheless, an IPO would bring enough advantages to outweigh these downsides.
"I believe that to be successful in Europe, you need to have unique engineering."
If would like to listen to the previous episode of this SIX Swiss Exchange bonus series, check out our conversation with Michele Bomio.
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