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Martin Godel, head of SME policy SECO, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #139 - Martin Godel: What EasyGov Can Offer Startups

Martin Godel (SECO)

March 11, 2021

0:58 – Why companies need an e-government solution
3:45 – Switzerland vs Estonia
20:48 – The startup lifecycle on EasyGov
25:27 – Covid loans
34:55 – Collecting data and protecting privacy

About Martin Godel

Martin Godel is the Head of Small and Medium Size Enterprise Policy at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), based in Berne. In 2002, he earned his Master’s Degree of Law and Diplomacy from Fletcher School, administered by Tufts and Harvard University. For nearly two decades, Martin has held various positions in business endeavours, including Head of the Swiss Business Hub for the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan (2007-2010) and Counsellor for the Swiss Government (2002-2004; 2005-2007). Godel’s main concerns are relieving the administrative load through e-government tools and assuring prime conditions for SME’s access to funding.

Has contact with government paperwork made your company weary and in need of a smart fix? Progress may seem slow, but governments are definitely moving towards more efficient, unified solutions. Today, we hear Martin Godel, the brains behind the Government-to-Business e-platform EasyGov since 2017.

  1. Why is e-government so vital to you? What motivated your investment?

“The need was clear, but nobody was doing it.”

Martin’s interest is clear: “e-government wants to make your life easier”. Luckily, Martin noticed the gap in the digitalisation of company registry and hopped in: this marked the beginning of EasyGov. By combining hard tech expertise and a politically-engaged network, his platform “aims to offer everything a company needs during its lifetime when it comes to business-to-government interaction”.

  1. Do you believe Switzerland is a bit late to the digital party?

“Slowly, things are building up.”

Martin is positive that Switzerland is quickly catching up with the early advances of countries like Estonia. After all, creating a crisp platform is not all about having a good-looking website. However, some key features are still missing: most important of all, government-regulated electronic identity systems.

Companies know how efficient recognition is vital for closing contracts briskly and polishing applications. So, what’s left? Legally speaking, the Swiss Parliament accepted the initial proposal. The response of the Swiss electorate to the e-ID Act referendum of March 7th, 2021 will determine the next step.

  1. What part does Swiss federalism play here?

“Every platform must recognise it’s not the only platform, and is part of a much larger ecosystem. However large and broad and good the platform may be, it is never the only one.”

It is natural to see how centralised states like Estonia have an easier time balancing platform offer. In contrast, Switzerland’s 3 federal levels, by working with largely independent ministries and services, present an ocean of digital initiatives.

Platform creators are bound to feel a bit overwhelmed. Martin has navigated those currents before, so he keeps some valuable tricks up his sleeve for new developers:

  • Welcome diversity by choosing collaboration over exclusivity. Centralised states, for example, can have a harder time adapting to such a productive ecosystem, so embrace your context and surf that wave!;
  • Create diverse integration patterns. Your system needs to accommodate all levels of digital maturity, since all companies move in different ways: instant connection through API (Application Programming Interface) allows for faster data transmission, but other partners may still prefer the “signed-by-hand, delivered-at-your-door” approach.
  1. How can a start-up work with the EasyGov platform? Can you walk us through the process?
  • Consider your starting point. Do you already have an established company? If not, you can always make that first great leap with the form available for that purpose. Thanks to EasyGov’s handy bundling, you can reach 5 important government agencies in a single contact;
  • Once you’re set, you’ll find over 30 procedures at your company’s disposal:

– Business registry changes and brand registry;

– Instant connection to Intellectual Property institutions;

– Application for secure, government-proved loans;

– Balance of legal pursuits (Betreibungsauszug);

Salary declarations for social insurance deduction (and many more!).

EasyGov knows it’s not all about providing service. Compromise and proactivity are the backbone of a helpful platform. Here is what marks EasyGov’s commitments:

  • Universal access;
  • Free of charge!;
  • Helps non-IT-trained companies make a smoother transition to the digital world;
  • Reduces layers of possible error: just like medieval scribes, data typists are human and prone to stumbling every now and then. Leaving manual integration behind might just be the answer for data treatment that is fluent and accurate;
  • Self-aware: undergoing frequent re-evaluation of the model’s statistics contributes to quick troubleshooting;
  • Supportive during rough times: as the Covid-19 pandemic turns everyday life upside down, EasyGov’s unified application processes simplify efficient credit agreements for liquidity in the least bureaucratic way possible.

  1. Any future features you’d like to share?

As of now, Martin envisions two new handy services for the platform:

  • The first fully-digital service of special work-hours regulation, allowing employers to declare and track night-shifts and Sunday work with effortless transparency;
  • Permits for smooth foreign worker integration — an all-too-important step for Swiss immigrational inclusion, since this kind of service only exists in about 4 or 5 cantons.

Hopefully, the addition of new services to will create a domino effect just like cross-selling in on-line shopping: if one works perfectly, why not try the rest?

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