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This episode was co-produced with ⁠Switzerland Global Enterprise⁠. Click ⁠⁠here⁠⁠ to learn more about the Swisstech pavilion at CES 2025, mentioned at the start of the episode.

About Céline Udriot & Karine Jeanmonod-Wittmer:

⁠Céline Udriot⁠ is the COO at ⁠Largo.ai⁠, a startup providing next-generation storytelling tools for the audiovisual industry using artificial intelligence. She holds an MBA from Vatel Switzerland and worked in the hospitality industry before joining Largo.ai in 2022.

⁠Karine Jeanmonod-Wittmer⁠ is a trade commissioner in charge of Startup Ecosystems & Partnerships at the ⁠Swiss Business Hub USA⁠, which represents Switzerland Global Enterprise in the US. She holds a master's degree in Economics & International Relations from the Geneva Graduate Institute, and had been working in the US for 14 years before joining Swiss Business Hub in 2018.

During their chat with Silvan, Céline and Karine discussed entering the US market as a Swiss startup, both from a founder’s perspective and from SBH’s perspective. Among other topics, they elaborated on why the US’ size, affluence and political stability make it the most attractive market for startups still today, and mentioned some of the challenges of breaking into this new market as a Swiss startup, namely networking “cliques”, unexpectedly high expenses, and cultural differences regarding the level of ambition.

Céline Udriot & Karine Jeanmonod-Wittmer, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 8, 2024

EP #417 - How to Break Into the American Market

Céline Udriot & Karine Jeanmonod-Wittmer
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Internationalization
Internationalization
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About Liliane Ableitner:

⁠Liliane Ableitner⁠ is the co-founder and CEO of ⁠Exnaton⁠, a software provider for energy communities, allowing neighbors to trade renewable energy amongst each other. Before starting Exnaton, Liliane was a Doctoral Researcher at the Bits of Energy Lab at ETH Zurich. 

She met her two co-founders, Arne Meeuw and Anselma Würner, during her work on the research project “Quartierstrom“, funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. The project resonated well with all stakeholders involved and the three PhD students decided to spin it out into an independent company in 2019. In December 2020, they won the Investor’s Choice award at Energy Startup Days, which helped the company to gain exposure amongst relevant stakeholders. 

Contrary to some of their competitors, Exnaton doesn’t sell their software to end consumers. Rather, they cooperate with local utility companies and allow them to white label their solution and distribute it to their customers. Exnaton is greatly benefiting from the liberalization of European energy markets because it has been driving competition for innovative products between utility companies. They are hoping to further benefit from an opening of the Swiss market, which has traditionally been very protected.

Liliane Ableitner, co-founder Exnaton, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 4, 2024

EP #416 - Liliane Ableitner: Exnaton 2 Years On

Liliane Ableitner
31
English
Growth & Scaling
Growth & Scaling
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About Matthias Heuberger:

⁠Matthias Heuberger⁠ is the founder and CEO of ⁠BreezeLabs⁠, a startup developing a new way to track sports performance. He holds an MA in International Affairs from HSG and previously worked for Zurich Insurance Company and CSS Versicherung before starting BreezeLabs in 2022.

By using the built-in microphone in your headphones to record the audio signal during your runs, BreezeLabs delivers breathing rate tracking without any additional hardware. Their sophisticated AI models are capable of groundbreaking precision and accuracy in detecting breathing signals, which enables you to match your training plan precisely with the state of your body, thereby maximizing training efficiency and bringing you closer to achieving your ultimate performance goals.

They’re currently raising a maximum of CHF 500K through the Swisspreneur Syndicate. Check out our ⁠dealflow page⁠ to learn more about the deal.

Matthias Heuberger, founder BreezeLabs, Swisspreneur Podcast
July 1, 2024

EP #415 - Matthias Heuberger: Why Breathing is the True Sports Performance Metric

Matthias Heuberger
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Fundraising
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Diese Folge war ursprünglich ein Live-Gespräch, das bei einer Veranstaltung des Sport and Business Network im Oktober 2023 aufgezeichnet wurde. Die Episode wird gesponsert von Properti.

About Mark Streit & Ben Küffer:

⁠Ben Küffer⁠ ist der Mitgründer der Schweizer Uhrenmarke ⁠NORQAIN⁠. Zuvor arbeitete er fast 12 Jahre lang als Brand Manager bei Breitling. Der junge Visionär hatte die Idee, eine neue Uhrenmarke zu gründen, als er feststellte, dass es in der Branche an erschwinglichen und qualitativ hochwertigen Zeitmessern mangelte. Im Jahr 2018 gründete er NORQAIN und stellte ein bemerkenswertes Team zusammen. Ted Schneider, ein Mitglied der Familie, die fast 40 Jahre lang Breitling besass, und die Schweizer Eishockey-Legende und Stanley-Cup-Sieger Mark Streit stiessen als Mitgründer und Mitglieder des Verwaltungsrats dazu.

⁠Mark Streit⁠ ist ein ehemaliger Schweizer Eishockeyspieler und Mitbegründer von NORQAIN. Der Verteidiger spielte insgesamt 820 Spiele für die Montréal Canadiens, die New York Islanders, die Philadelphia Flyers und die Pittsburgh Penguins in der National Hockey League und gewann 2017 mit den Penguins den Stanley Cup.

Mark Streit & Ben Küffer, co-founders NORQAIN, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 27, 2024

EP #414 - Mark Streit & Ben Küffer: Der neue Stern am Schweizer Uhrenhimmel

Mark Streit & Ben Küffer
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German
Growth & Scaling
Business Model
Growth & Scaling
Business Model
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This episode was co-produced with ⁠Switzerland Global Enterprise⁠. Click ⁠here⁠ to learn more about the SWISS Pavilion at Singapore Fintech Festival 2024, mentioned at the start of the episode.

About Elena Maran & Angela di Rosa:

Elena Maran is the Global Head Financial Services at ⁠Modulos AG⁠, an ETH spin-off developing and operating AI products and services in a new regulated environment. She holds a MSc in Finance from Università Bocconi and previously worked at banks like  Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Citi Group before joining Modulos in 2022.

⁠Angela di Rosa⁠ is the Senior Consultant Southeast Asia and Fintech Internationalization Expert at Switzerland Global Enterprise, the official Swiss organization for export and investment promotion, which supports Swiss SMEs in their international business, and helps innovative foreign companies to establish in Switzerland.  

Modulos offers a Responsible AI Platform that seamlessly integrates AI governance, risk management, and data science, ensuring that your organization remains compliant while innovating. Platforms like these have become increasingly relevant ever since the passing of the EU AI Regulation Act back in March 2024. This AI Act is the most comprehensive effort at regulating AI so far, and punishes failure to comply with its requirements with a fine of up to 7% of a company’s annual turnover. Although Switzerland is not part of the EU, any Swiss company that deals with EU customers will be forced to comply with this new piece of legislation. 

Elena Maran & Angela di Rosa, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 24, 2024

EP #413 - Elena Maran & Angela di Rosa: Simplifying AI Compliance & Expanding to New Markets

Elena Maran & Angela di Rosa
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Legal
Internationalization
Legal
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Click ⁠here⁠ to apply to join our Founders Slack.

About Franz Bittmann:

⁠Franz Bittmann⁠ is the founder and CEO of ⁠namuk⁠, the Swiss premium-quality and sustainable outdoor clothing brand for children. After his Matura, Franz started his first clothing brand, eleven GmbH, back in 1998, which lasted until 2011. He then worked in consulting for 5 years before starting namuk in 2016.

namuk was born out of a personal problem: Franz’ rambunctious, outdoorsy son would time and time again tear through his clothes and stay out in the rain for long periods of time. Franz quickly came to the conclusion that kids’ clothes were very cheaply made, and that he himself, as a tailor, could do much better. He was also rather concerned about the highly regimented routines of kids nowadays, which allow for very little play time outside. So he set out to make a kids’ clothing line which was both durable and outdoor-proof.

namuk clothes are breathable, durable and water-proof (while still avoiding unsustainable chemicals like PFCs), and come with neat additions like integrated suspenders and toilet zippers. To prevent mountains of trash made of fabric remnants, namuk uses recycled materials. The annual, limited upcycled collections are made completely out of fabric remnants from previous production. They’ve also launched their own repair service and provide a market for second-hand namuk clothes on their ReUse platform. That’s why every product features three name tags: each child who wears a piece of namuk clothing can leave their name and know other children will be able to inherit this wonderful product.

Franz Bittmann, founder namuk, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 20, 2024

EP #412 - Franz Bittmann: We Deserve Better Kids’ Clothes

Franz Bittmann
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Growth & Scaling
Business Model
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About Lea von Bidder:

⁠Lea von Bidder⁠ is the co-founder and former CEO of ⁠AVA Women⁠, a femtech startup advancing women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. Since 2022 she’s also the founder and CEO at ⁠expeerly⁠, a startup which makes it easy and efficient for companies to leverage the power of video without the hassle of production, editing, and distribution. She holds a MSc in Global Entrepreneurship from Emlyon Business School and Zhejiang University.

AVA Women garnered much fame and success in Switzerland from 2015 up until 2021 (more on that in ⁠Lea’s former episode⁠ with us), but unfortunately in 2021 they had their leading investor back out of their Series C round, which made the whole fundraising round fall apart. Since they did not have the money necessary to carry on for another 6-12 months, which would have been the time necessary to set up a new fundraising round, Lea and her co-founders decided to sell the company, and contacted CEOs they were personally acquainted with.  

Out of many potential buyers, they chose FemTech Health, because they believed in their vision to unite the fragmented femtech market. Sadly, FemTech didn’t not follow through with the promises they had made post-exit, and even stopped paying vendors and employees, resulting in a round of layoffs. At this point, Lea left the company herself.

She has since begun a new venture, expeerly, which she is bootstrapping. 

Lea von Bidder, founder AVA Women, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 17, 2024

EP #411 - Lea von Bidder: What Happened to AVA Women?

Lea von Bidder
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Exit
Culture
Legal
Exit
Culture
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About Catarina Dahlin:

⁠Catarina Dahlin⁠ is the co-founder and managing director of ⁠Dagsmejan⁠, an innovative and sustainable sleepwear brand. She holds a MSc in Business Administration from Lund University and previously worked at Oriflame Cosmetics and Yves Rocher Group before starting Dagsmejan with her husband, Andreas Lenzhofer, in 2016.

In Catarina’s opinion, the greatest advantage of starting a business with your romantic partner is that you gain a co-founder who truly knows you — who’s right there beside you during the highs and the lows, and who understands your “obsession”. The disadvantage, however, is that if you don’t set up proper boundaries, it can sometimes feel like there’s no escaping the business. That’s why Catarina and Andreas occasionally make it clear that they want to steer clear of business topics at home. 

On the first day they met, Catarina and Andreas discovered that they shared the dream of someday starting a business. Years later, they took the plunge, and Dagsmejan was born. Their sleep products are based on natural materials, enhanced with technology to give it unique functional properties, namely dual moisture management: evaporative cooling to cool us down and moisture wicking to keep us dry. Thus, they tackle a very important factor when it comes to sleep quality: temperature! Other factors include our stress levels, whether we just ate a heavy meal, how much we exercise, alcohol consumption, and whether we use the computer just before bed. 

Dagsmejan is currently present in Switzerland, Germany, the US and the UK. 

Catarina Dahlin, co-founder Dagsmejan, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 13, 2024

EP #410 - Catarina Dahlin: How Pajamas Play a Role in Optimizing Sleep

Catarina Dahlin
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Sales & Marketing
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This episode was co-produced with ⁠UBS⁠ and ⁠ETH Zurich⁠, as part of the ⁠Entrepreneurial Backpack Series⁠.

About Flavio Rump:

⁠Flavio Rump⁠ is one of the co-founders of ⁠DeinDeal⁠, the famous Swiss eCommerce scaleup acquired by DeinDeal in 2011. He’s also a startup investor, board member and growth expert. He holds a BSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from ETH and has co-founded companies like Pigeon Apps Inc, Blue Chocolate Inc, and Bio2040.com, and the Student Biolab Zurich.

He credits DeinDeal’s success and quick growth to their early realization that sales do not equal profits, and to the fact that their team possessed a large number of extremely competent “specialists”. Here is a summary of some of the sales and marketing tips that he shared with our host Silvan:

  • The difference between sales and marketing is that marketing is a long-term endeavor to build trust and credibility, whereas sales is a shorter-term process where you understand customer needs and fit your product to them.
  • The sales channels that worked best for DeinDeal were Google Search, Facebook and Hyperlocalized Advertising. For this last one they created individual landing pages for certain queries (e.g., hairdressers in Zurich, restaurants in Zurich), in order to reduce the number of clicks a customer has to go through to get from query to conversion. Their conversion rates increased 50%.
  • A great way to start getting closer to customers and better understanding their needs is to create a live chat on your homepage.
  • Customer development should start as soon as research and product development start. Talking to customers while building your product helps you know which product to build in the first place, as well as which markets to go into.
  • Don’t be afraid to get candid with prospects during sales calls. Phrases like “Help me out here” are effective in getting people to open up and to explain how your product falls short. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your prospect to close the deal if your sales call is going really well. And if your sales call went well but you haven’t heard from your prospect since, don’t assume this means disinterest — often people are just quite busy. Follow up continuously unless they clearly state that they no longer intend to buy your product.

Resources Mentioned:

Flavio RUmp, founder DeinDeal, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 10, 2024

EP #409 - Flavio Rump: Lessons in Sales & Marketing from a DeinDeal Founder

Flavio Rump
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About Miller Mendoza Jiménez:

⁠Miller Mendoza Jiménez⁠ is the co-founder, CTO and Latin America Regional Manager at ⁠Grundo⁠, a technology advisory and analytics startup aimed at tackling sustainability challenges globally that can be solved using open data systems, technology-based tools, and services. He holds a PhD in Physics from ETH and worked there as a research assistant, senior research scientist and lecturer before starting Grundo in 2020.

Grundo aims to solve the issue of food security, which will become more and more relevant in the coming years due to climate change. This is because changes to the climate equal extremely unpredictable weather, ranging from heavy rains to heavy draughts. Weather instability is in general bad for crops, and heavy rains in particular damage the fertility of soils through erosion. Add to that the population increase, and it is estimated that by 2050, we will need to increase the agricultural output between 50-70% to have enough food for the global population.

Grundo answers critical food security questions like “How much wheat and corn can we expect from Germany in three months? How about in Europe, Asia or Africa?” They uncover the answers by building AI algorithms and using satellite data to provide insurance companies with data on which to tailor premiums for crop insurance, and to provide governments with data which enables them to efficiently subsidize sustainable farming practices.

Miller Mendoza Jiménez, co-founder Grundo, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 6, 2024

EP #408 - Miller Mendoza Jiménez: AI to Tackle Global Food Challenges

Miller Mendoza Jiménez
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Click ⁠here⁠ to enjoy three months of NordPass Business for free with the code “swisspreneur”.

About Jonas Karklys:

⁠Jonas Karklys⁠ is the co-founder of ⁠Nord Security⁠, and the CEO of its password management company ⁠NordPass⁠. He holds a BA in Business Administration and Management from Vilnius University, but before his university studies he was already an accomplished race car driver and had also run Infosport, a Lithuanian sports news website. After university, Jonas went on to co-found 50Garage and invest in F-1.LT before co-founding Nord Security and launching NordPass.

NordPass is a password management solution, part of Nord Security, the world’s leading

cybersecurity company and the creator of NordVPN, NordLayer, NordLocker, and other well-

known products in the market. Currently with offices/representatives in 26 markets, Nord Security offers its services globally, and is Lithuania’s second unicorn.

Resources mentioned:

Jonas Karklys, co-founder NordPass, Swisspreneur Podcast
June 3, 2024

EP #407 - Jonas Karklys: How Nord Security Became a Leader in Digital Security & Privacy

Jonas Karklys
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Growth & Scaling
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About Danny Chatziprodromou:

⁠Danny Chatziprodromou⁠ is the founder and CEO of ⁠REOR20⁠, a company developing the next generation of models providing highly accurate flood hazard information at a significantly lower cost. He holds a PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics and Mechanical Engineering from ETH. He worked for companies like Swiss Re and SAM Sustainable Asset Management before starting REOR20 in 2017.

The model Danny’s team developed is 100 000 times faster than traditional models, and his realization that the typical models were that simplified was precisely what motivated him to look into the issue. He also claims that his long and uneventful stay in corporate gave him the arrogance needed to believe he could build a business by himself. Reality, as it turns out, was more challenging, but REOR20 managed to be successful regardless.

Danny Chatziprodromou, founder REOR20, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 30, 2024

EP #406 - Danny Chatziprodromou: Breaking Out of the Golden Corporate Cage

Danny Chatziprodromou
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About Christoph Bertschy & Gaël Riesen:

⁠Gaël Riesen⁠ is a co-founder and the Head of Production/Distribution at ⁠Gratiswasser⁠, and his co-founder Christoph Bertschy is the owner of the company. Gratiswasser is a startup placing ads in free water bottles to be distributed in stores, at festivals, cafés and in general around town. They aim to offer companies a cost-effective advertising opportunity that also has a positive impact on the community.

Gaël and Christoph were motivated by a belief that water as a commodity should be free, and by the motivation to make this possible in a market economy: so they decided to use water bottle labels as advertising slots! One of their partners, VIU eyewear, receives the water bottles at their stores and distributes them to customers who drop by.

Placing ads in free water bottles has the benefit of associating the advertisement to the positive feeling of getting free stuff, instead of to the frustrating 30 second wait before you can watch a video on Youtube. It also is a more trustworthy form of advertising than online advertising, which nowadays seems to have become riddled with deepfakes and other shady ecommerce practices.

Gratiswasser is currently fundraising CHF 500K, part of which is being done through the Swisspreneur Syndicate (the 2M mentioned in the episode is a goal for future funding rounds). Click ⁠here⁠ to learn more about the deal.

Christoph Bertschy & Gaël Riesen, co-founders Gratiswasser, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 27, 2024

EP #405 - Christoph Bertschy & Gaël Riesen: How to Make Water Free & Profitable

Christoph Bertschy & Gaël Riesen
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Click ⁠here⁠ to enjoy three months of NordPass Business for free by using the code “swisspreneur”. 

About Matthias Bryner:

⁠Matthias Bryner⁠ is the founder of ⁠findependent⁠, an app to make investing transparent, easy and beneficial for everyone, regardless of prior knowledge. He holds an MA in Banking and Finance from HSG and interned at Credit Suisse and at neon before starting findependent in 2018. 

findependent allows you to open an account online within approx. 15 minutes, easily select an optimally-tailored investment solution and get started with as little as CHF 500. Thanks to their investment app, findependent users are always informed transparently about their investments, earnings and fees. 

But first things first: why should you start investing? Basically, because of inflation and the compounding effect. Inflation rises at least 1% or 2% every year, which means that over the long run your savings will be significantly devalued. Similarly, if you start investing now, even if you invest only a little bit each year, this compounds over time and will make a significant difference in your life later on.

findependent encourages its users to invest in ETFs, which is basically like buying a very small percentage of the world economy, instead of investing in a specific stock. This derisks your investment. And even if the numbers in the market fluctuate daily, their overall historical tendency is upwards, so you can rest assured that your money is being put to good use. findependent currently has 12'000 customers.

Matthias Bryner, co-founder Findependent, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 23, 2024

EP #404 - Matthias Bryner: Why You Should Start Investing

Matthias Bryner
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This episode was co-produced with ⁠CONDA.ch⁠. If you want to invest in⁠ CONDA.ch⁠ with preferential conditions, contact them at investor@conda.ch.

About Pedro Schmidt & Linus Gabrielsson:

⁠Pedro Schmidt⁠ is the founder and CEO of ⁠KaEx⁠, the world’s first sports-recovery drink to significantly reduce the stress hormone. He holds a MSc in Management, Technology and Economics from ETH Zürich, and previously worked for companies like Siemens Management Consulting, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Teva Pharmaceuticals before founding KaEx in 2016. 

⁠Linus Gabrielsson⁠ is the managing director at ⁠CONDA.ch⁠, the leading platform providing Swiss startups access to crowd investment capital as well as community building and campaigning opportunities. He holds a MSc in Technology Management from ETH and previously worked for companies like IBM Business Consulting Services, PwC and HSBC Private Bank before founding CONDA.ch in 2021.

KaEx was the result of many years of research for Pedro, whose undergraduate education is in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He originally branded it as a hangover remedy, and that’s how it began to be sold in pharmacies and at Coop supermarkets. At some point, Pedro and his team started getting messages from people who swore on the benefits of drinking KaEx post-workout. Pedro ignored these messages at first, since as a resource-constrained founder he couldn’t afford to split his focus — but then pro-athletes started contacting him as well, asking if drinking KaEx could be considered doping (which it couldn’t). This made Pedro and his team seriously question whether they should pivot their product’s branding and focus. They eventually did do so, and nowadays KaEx is known primarily as a sports drink, though it is of course also useful for hangovers or after a particularly stressful day.

In 2021, CONDA.ch was already one of the most successful crowdfunding platforms in Austria and Germany. Rather than try to compete with them, Linus and his co-founder Christian Klumpe decided to strike a franchising deal with their DACH counterparts in order to bring CONDA to Switzerland. As a crowdfunding platform, they focus on startups, SMEs and real estate, and allow users to invest as little as CHF 100. CONDA.ch always runs a 2 week pre-round with preferential conditions open only to VIP investors: that way, when the deal goes public, it never starts at 0, which helps it gain momentum.

KaEx has crowdfunded on CONDA.ch several times.  

Linus Gabrielsson & Pedro Schmidt, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 20, 2024

EP #403 - Creating the Perfect Sports Drink & Crowdfunding as a Startup

Pedro Schmidt & Linus Gabrielsson
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Check out the ⁠LinkedIn event⁠ for our livestream with Aurelio Perucca on May 22nd.

About Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual:

⁠Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠TOLREMO Therapeutics⁠, a biotech startup on a mission to prevent non-genetic cancer drug resistance. She holds a PhD in Molecular and Translational Biomedicine from ETH and worked there as a Postdoctoral Researcher before starting TOLREMO in 2017 together with Wilhelm Krek, who has since tragically passed away. 

There is no shortage of cancer therapies in biotech and medtech, and one common problem that they face is drug resistance: even if a certain therapy is at first successful in reducing the tumor’s size, patients sometimes develop a resistance to it, whether it be genetic or non-genetic, and the therapy stops working. To use a tech metaphor, genetic drug resistance is akin to a hardware problem, whereas non-genetic drug resistance is more similar to a software malfunction. Since non-genetic resistance is much more dynamic, it’s harder to measure and combat — this is what Stefanie and her fellow researchers have been studying for the past few years. They discovered a pivotal mechanism that governs critical transcriptional resistance pathways, i.e., that stops cancer drug resistance as it emerges without interfering with cancer-unrelated pathways.

TOLREMO recently completed its Series A financing, bringing their total amount raised to USD 39M. Their ultimate goal is to prove the efficacy of their treatment and join forces with a larger pharma company.

Stefanie Flückiger-Mangua, co-founder TOLREMO, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 16, 2024

EP #402 - Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual: Stopping Non-Genetic Cancer Drug Resistance

Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual
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Click ⁠here⁠ to apply to join our 2024 Lausanne Scaleup Cruise. 

About Eric Laudet:

Eric Laudet is the founder and CEO of Holistiq, a startup offering an organic and personalized approach to healthcare which aims to solve health issues at their root, instead of just treating symptoms. Eric holds a master’s degree in Business Management from HEC Paris, and previously co-founded Batmaid and was active for 6 years as its CFO before starting Holistiq in 2022.

Holistiq’s approach combines different healing systems to create natural therapies that are tailored to the needs of patients and backed by research, lab tests and data science. They operate a digital platform and urban health centers with a team of complementary medicine therapists, life & health coaches, nutritionists, and functional medicine doctors, to support the healing of chronically-ill patients and help others find optimal health.

During his chat with us, Eric placed Holistiq’s offering between that of regular doctors, which are in his opinion currently better suited to treat acute disorders than chronic disorders, and the offering of longevity startups, which often only help people with the prevention of disease, not with treating existing diseases. He also criticized longevity startups for sometimes tracking biomarkers which do not move the (health) needle, merely for publicity’s sake. Eric added that Holistiq’s offering is partly covered by health insurance, and is meant for the masses, not just for the wealthy few.

Despite being in operation for only 2 years, Holistiq already has impressive traction: CHF 400K in revenue (with a 50% gross margin), 1000 paying patients, and both offline and online offerings. They are currently raising a seed round of CHF 3M, CHF 250K of which they’ve already raised from business angels, and CHF 250K which they expect to raise through the Swisspreneur Syndicate. The remaining CHF 2.5M will be raised from healthtech VCs. Click ⁠here⁠ to learn more about the deal.

Eric Laudet, co-founder Holistiq, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 13, 2024

EP #401 - Eric Laudet: Holistic Healthcare On The Rise

Eric Laudet
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Early Stage
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Early Stage
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About Pascal Bieri:

⁠Pascal Bieri⁠ is the co-founder of ⁠Planted⁠, a startup creating healthy plant-based meat alternatives. He holds an MA in Informations-, Media- and Technology Management from the University of St Gallen, and previously worked in companies like SweetWorks Confections and DeepTech Capital AG before starting Planted in 2019. He also co-founded the Green Liberal Party in Lucerne when he was 21, but the slowness of politics soon dissuaded him from getting further involved. 

So what’s wrong with livestock farming?

From a cold, technocratic point of view, not taking into account the environment, animal well-being or workers’ rights, current livestock farming practices were great for the meat industry, since they allowed it to achieve a fantastic production ration, super efficient supply chains, pay almost no taxes and deliver very low margins to everyone involved. Meat became cheap and accessible to almost everyone. However, this came at the cost of…

  • Destroying acres and acres of land to build livestock operations;
  • Establishing intensive monoculture farming operations which deplete soils of nutrients in order to feed livestock, which requires 25x the amount of those crops than we do to meet their nutritional needs;
  • Emitting 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is about the same as the amount emitted by the entirety of the transportation system.

Planted makes meat alternatives mainly out of pea protein, which can be grown locally and gives great taste.  In 100 g of planted.chicken Nature, for example, there is 23.7 g of protein, which is about the same amount as found in conventional chicken meat. planted.chicken Nature consists of no more than four natural ingredients and a healthy portion of vitamin B12. What scares Pascal in the meat alternative market is not companies trying to produce equally healthy and tasty alternatives, but the companies making unhealthy products that taste terribly, which deter people from ever trying out a vegan product again. 

Pascal Bieri, co-founder Planted, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 9, 2024

EP #400 - Pascal Bieri: Catching Up with Planted’s Incredible Growth Journey

Pascal Bieri
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This episode was produced in collaboration with startup days, taking place this year on May 30th 2024. Click ⁠here⁠ to purchase your ticket.

About Matthias Kaech & Adrian Riedo:

⁠Adrian Riedo⁠ is the founder and owner of ⁠RNX⁠, short for Riedo Networks, a provider and distributor of energy monitoring and control solutions which began back in 2005. Matthias Kaech is a Senior IP Trainer at the ⁠Institute for Intellectual Property. ⁠

Matthias and Adrian have a few IP recommendations for startup founders:

  • Never discuss (the intricacies of) your (tech) invention in public. Once the information is leaked, your patent may be ruined;
  • Look into the different types of IP protections and figure out which one is best for your company: patents for tech, trademarks for services, copyright/trademarks for software/apps, design rights for luxury products, etc..
  • If you want to file for a trademark, the only register you have to be in is the National Trademark Register. Any other registers that contact you are private registers, and you’re not required to be listed on them, so don’t waste your money;
  • Figuring out IP protection early on will give investors a positive view of your startup, partially because they know your product/service is protected, and partially because they see you took the trouble to make sure you had freedom to operate, and this shows competence;
  • You have to apply for IP protection in each and every country. As a resource-constrained startup, you should think about which countries are your main markets and where your main competitors operate, so that you don’t waste money.

Matthias Kaech & Adrian Riedo, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 6, 2024

EP #399 - Matthias Kaech & Adrian Riedo: Why IP Protection Matters to Startups

Matthias Kaech & Adrian Riedo
47
English
Internationalization
Legal
Internationalization
Legal
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About Anina Lutz:

⁠Anina Lutz⁠ is the co-founder and CEO of ⁠Calingo Insurance AG⁠, a digital insurance company. She holds a MSc in Business & Economics from the University of Basel and previously worked at Helvetia before starting Calingo in 2020. 

As a digital insurance company, Calingo offers personalized insurance coverage at the point of sale in a hassle-free and digital way, for your home, your pets or your business. Their home insurance offer is 25% cheaper than market average, since they do not charge high commissions and have easy, low cost operations. Their pet insurance comes at a higher price at first, but since the premiums remain constant regardless of the pet’s age, the lifetime value ends up cheaper than other pet insurances.

They’ve partnered up with insurance companies like SwissRe to have them as risk carriers. Thus far they’ve decided not to delve into health insurance, since it is a rather saturated market. Instead they plan to use next year's series A funds (provided that the round closes successfully) to set up a system of vet video calls and bring their services to Germany.

Anina Lutz, co-founder Calingo, Swisspreneur Podcast
May 2, 2024

EP #398 - Anina Lutz: Digitizing Insurance

Anina Lutz
46
English
Business Model
Market & Customers
Business Model
Market & Customers
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Click ⁠here⁠ to apply to join our Founders Dinner in Bern on May 30th.

About Oliver Widler & Denis Widler:

Denis Widler is the co-founder and Head of Business Relations at Flappie, a startup building an AI-powered cat door with integrated prey detection. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Innovation from HSG. Oliver Widler is Denis’ twin brother and the co-founder and Head of Technology at Flappie. He holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from ETH. 

Denis and Oliver started Flappie together in 2022 motivated by their personal experience growing up with furry friends who would bring “gifts” home. This got them thinking about a product that could prevent such unpleasant surprises, and with his engineering background Oliver devised a cat door which immediately recognizes when your cat tries to bring presents (e.g., mice, birds) into the house. Once recognized, the cat door locks automatically, and the cat (including the prey) stays outside until it returns with no prey.

The Widler brothers think the time is ripe for their product, considering that ⅓ of households globally have cats and that 81% of Gen Z live with cats. It seems they’ve been proven right: their product has been featured in over 200 media outlets since inception. 

They’re currently raising CHF 1M in funds, 500K of which they already have in soft commitments, and 50K of which are being raised through the Swisspreneur Syndicate. Check out our ⁠deal flow page⁠ to learn more.

Oliver & Denis Widler, co-founders Flappie, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 30, 2024

EP #397 - Oliver & Denis Widler: The Twin Brothers Building a PetTech Startup

Oliver & Denis Widler
24
English
Early Stage
Fundraising
Early Stage
Fundraising
Female Founders Initiative

Click ⁠here⁠ to apply to join our Founders Dinner in Bern on May 30th.

This episode was co-produced by the ⁠Female Founders Initiative⁠ and recorded at the Female Future Festival.

About Melanie Kovacs:

⁠Melanie Kovacs⁠ is an award-winning entrepreneur, business coach, TEDxspeaker, and startup trainer, dedicated to supporting people to find and not lose joy on their entrepreneurial journeys. Through her podcast ⁠“The Joypreneur”⁠ she encourages entrepreneurs to do their thing, thereby making a positive impact. 

Previously, she created the Joy Accelerator program, a 12-week course for women aspiring to build sustainable businesses without burning out. Prior to this, she founded Switzerland's first coding bootcamp, ⁠Master21 Academy⁠. Melanie studied International Management, Human-Computer Interaction Design and Creative Leadership. 

During her chat with our new host, Merle, Melanie shared some of the insights that she provides her coachees, ranging from identifying the critical voices in your head, to exploring your fear of failure, to adequately valuing your time, resources and intuition.

For more information ⁠about Melanie and her work, visit her website⁠.

Resources mentioned:

Melanie Kovacs, founder Joy Works, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 29, 2024

EP #396 - Melanie Kovacs: How to Stop Hesitating & Start Building a Business

Melanie Kovacs
32
English
Early Stage
Business Model
Early Stage
Business Model
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About Diego Seitz:

⁠Diego Seitz⁠ is the co-founder and former CEO at ⁠GotCourts⁠, a social network for racket sports players and marketplace for booking courts and coaches. He holds a MSc in International Management from CEMS as well as a MSc in Strategic Management from the university of St. Gallen and previously worked at companies like Namics and Accenture before joining GotCourts as a late co-founder in 2017. 

Founded in 2013, GotCourts was the first platform to provide everything a player needs in a single marketplace. Finding a partner or a coach, booking a court nearby or competing for a place in their leaderboards and tracking your progress, GotCourts is your "virtual global club"​. For court facilities and clubs they offer a capable club management system and a platform to engage with the community. This means they receive revenue not only from the SaaS subscription but also from the racket sports players themselves.

Coming into the fitness industry with an innovative approach, the GotCourts team often found that they had to educate potential SaaS customers on the benefits of online demos and how to set up a video call, so as to drive down acquisition costs. Their internationalization process began in Germany, where they at first bet on the traditional route of ads, email marketing, cold calling, and simply offering the product in euros, only to later find out that the German federations were the true door into the market, and that a freemium model for the app was much more suitable for their German users. Nowadays GotCourts is the racket sports app in the DACH region.

GotCourts was acquired in 2021 by Spanish competitor Playtomic for an undisclosed amount. Diego remained on board as the regional manager of Central Europe. Currently he is also working on a new venture, alfred.ch, which provides legal and strategic consulting services to early stage ventures, entrepreneurs and investors. 

Diego Seitz, co-founder GotCourts, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 25, 2024

EP #395 - Diego Seitz: The GotCourts Hybrid

Diego Seitz
62
English
Exit
Growth & Scaling
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Growth & Scaling
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About Gianluca Cesari:

⁠Gianluca Cesari⁠ is a co-founder and the CBDO of ⁠Sevensense Robotics⁠, a robotics ETH spin-off which empowers mobile robots to move into public and dynamic spaces, supporting humans in the execution of dirty, dangerous and dull tasks. Gianluca holds a master’s degree in Robotics, Systems and Control from ETH Zurich and afterwards continued as Robotics Engineer at the university’s Autonomous Systems Lab, before officially founding Sevensense in 2018.

 

In Gianluca’s opinion, Sevensense’s biggest challenge was finding the right focus, which is a challenge universal to all tech startups: they develop great tech, but what needs to be sold is a product, not a technology — so what use should their tech be put to? The solution to this conundrum is to start talking to customers. Eventually Sevensense landed upon two verticals: automated material handling, and automated cleaning.

They were acquired by ABB in 2024 for an undisclosed amount.

This episode was produced in collaboration with startup days, taking place this year on May 30th 2024. Click ⁠here⁠ to purchase your ticket.

Gianluca Cesari, co-founder Sevensense, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 22, 2024

EP #394 - Gianluca Cesari: How Sevensense Got Acquired By ABB

Gianluca Cesari
33
English
Exit
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About Adrien Treccani:

⁠Adrien Treccani⁠ is the founder and CEO of ⁠Metaco⁠, an enterprise technology company whose mission is to enable financial and non-financial institutions to securely build their digital asset operations. He holds a PhD in Finance from the SFI (Swiss Finance Institute) and previously worked for companies like Gottex Brokers Alternative and Swissquote before starting Metaco in 2015.

Metaco’s founding date turned out to be much too early: back in 2015, very few people were thinking of tokenizing everything, like Adrien thought would happen — but still the team managed to pull their startup through, perhaps at least in part due to Adrien hiring very senior people early on. The most important of these hires was a CCO, to complement Adrien’s engineering mind. Nowadays Metaco provides software to banks and other financial institutions which enables them to manage their clients digital (crypto) assets at very large scales. 

In 2023 Metaco was acquired by Ripple, a leading enterprise crypto company, for US$250M. Adrien remains at Metaco as founder and CEO. 

Adrien Treccani, co-founder Metaco, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 18, 2024

EP #393 - Adrien Treccani: SaaS to Manage Your Digital Assets

Adrien Treccani
54
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About Daniel Gutierrez & Francois Smuts:

⁠Francois Smuts⁠ is the co-founder and managing director of ⁠BioNexus⁠, a healthcare company focused on creating cutting edge wearable diagnostics. He holds a Global Masters of Public Health from Imperial College London and was a Medical Affairs Manager for companies like Merck Pty, Abbott and Mirum Pharmaceuticals before founding BioNexus in 2023.

⁠Daniel Gutierrez⁠ is a customer and supporter of BioNexus. He holds a PhD in Cardiac Physiology from the University of Bern and currently works as Head of Site Network Engagement at Clinerion.

BioNexus is committed to developing diagnostics which tackle women’s health issues by monitoring hormones in live time. According to a recent McKinsey study, there is a 1 trillion dollar gap in the women’s health sector, so the time for technologies like theirs is definitely upon us. Francois also derives motivation from his personal experience of witnessing his mother struggle with menopause and be told by doctors that she ought to conform to her loss of quality of life. 

They are developing a wearable patch with microneedles that measures your hormones continuously, which would be helpful not only for menopausal women but also for couples struggling to conceive. 

BioNexus is raising CHF 900K to boost their product development, part of which through the ⁠Swisspreneur Syndicate⁠. Check out our ⁠deal flow page⁠ to learn more.

Daniel Gutierrez & Francois Smuts, BioNexus, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 15, 2024

EP #392 - Daniel Gutierrez & Francois Smuts: The Gap in Women’s Reproductive Health

Daniel Gutierrez & Francois Smuts
26
English
Product
Fundraising
Product
Fundraising
Female Founders Initiative

About Lisa Stähli & Fabienne Lorenz:

⁠Lisa Stähli⁠ is a board member and Head of Press at ⁠Girls in Tech Switzerland⁠, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech. She holds a MSc in Geomatics Engineering from ETH and is currently a Product Engineering Lead at the Esri R&D Center Zurich. ⁠Fabienne Lorenz⁠ is the co-managing director at Girls in Tech Switzerland, holds a MAS in Marketing Management from ZHAW School of Management and Law, and is currently the Head of Academy at Synpulse.

The Swiss chapter of Girls in Tech was started with the vision of creating a community of like-minded women who could support and encourage one another in Switzerland. It’s part of a larger community of more than 120K people around the world. They provide community, skill workshops and role models to motivate women in their professional journeys.

The conversation in this episode was recorded in April 2023, and was co-produced together with the Female Founders Initiative.

Lisa Stähli & Fabienne Lorenz, Girls in Tech Switzerland, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 11, 2024

EP #391 - Lisa Stähli & Fabienne Lorenz: How Role Models Drive Women to Tech

Lisa Stähli & Fabienne Lorenz
34
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Culture
Culture
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About Pascale Vonmont & Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler:

⁠Pascale Vonmont⁠ is the director of the ⁠Gebert Rüf Stiftung⁠, and ⁠Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler⁠ is the non-executive vice-president at ⁠Swisscom⁠, and a former member of its Group Executive Board. 

Gebert Rüf Stiftung is one of the initial partners of the Kick Fund, whose goal it is to invest in Swiss pre-seed and stage technology startups from the Venture Kick pipeline. Venture Kick is part of the Kick Foundation, which is supporting young entrepreneurial talents at Swiss universities. The close collaboration with the Deep Tech Switzerland Foundation (where Roger is also active) secures the financing and support pipeline from startup to scale-up. Roger and Pascale feel that Swiss startup initiatives ought to break down silos and work together, sharing their resources, so as to facilitate the commercialization of Swiss innovation.

 

This episode was produced in collaboration with startup days, taking place this year on May 30th 2024. Click ⁠here⁠ to purchase your ticket.

Pascale Vonmont & Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler, Gebert Rüf & Swisscom, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 8, 2024

EP #390 - Why Swiss Innovation Isn’t Living Up to Its Full Potential

Pascale Vonmont & Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler
33
English
Culture
Growth & Scaling
Culture
Growth & Scaling
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About S. Manoj Harasgama:

⁠S. Manoj Harasgama⁠ is a serial entrepreneur and startup investor. He’s been the founder/MD at ⁠Treatwell⁠, Unleash12, a venture capital company and ⁠JOIN.com⁠, and is currently working on a stealth ClimateTech venture. He holds an MA in Accounting and Finance from HSG and an M.Sc. in International Management from CEMS (RSM & HSG) and has worked both at the HQ for corporates like Shell and Adidas as well as at well-known scaleups like usgang.ch and Groupon.

Nowadays he’s working on a climate venture that has yet to fully launch, which has developed a technology that is ready for market today and allows gas turbines to run on zero carbon fuels like hydrogen. Were their tech to be applied, a 100 megawatt turbine, today emitting up to 600’000 tons of CO2 every year, would eliminate emissions and emit zero CO2. This is particularly impactful considering that gas emissions make up around ⅓ of all fossil fuel emissions.

Next to being a serial entrepreneur, Manoj also invests in promising early stage startups, and is a guest lecturer on Growth and Entrepreneurship at universities like the ESADE Lull University in Barcelona, the Technical University Munich and the Rotterdam School of Management. 

S. Manoj Harasgama, serial entrepreneur, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 4, 2024

EP #389 - S. Manoj Harasgama: From Working at Shell to Building a ClimateTech Startup

S. Manoj Harasgama
42
English
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Market & Customers
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Market & Customers
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⁠About Nicole Colmenares Pulido:

Nicole Colmenares Pulido⁠ is the co-founder and Head of Business Development & Finance at ⁠Circleg⁠, a Swiss startup providing affordable and high-quality prosthetics to low and middle income countries across the world. Nicole holds a master’s degree in Business and Development Studies from Copenhagen Business School and previously worked for companies like Climate-KIC and PRORSUM AG before starting Circleg in 2021.

Circleg addresses a very pressing problem: over 90% of global amputees don’t have access to quality prosthetic care, since prosthetic manufacturers tend to focus on high income countries to ensure sizable profit margins. Circleg wants to change this, so they’ve created an affordable, circular and high-quality prosthetic which they’ve begun selling within the African continent, with Kenya as their starting market.

Although initially they depended on grant money, the team is now ready for VC funding, and is raising CHF 1.5M to power their African expansion. Part of these funds are being raised through the Swisspreneur Syndicate: check out our ⁠deal flow page⁠ to learn more.

Nicole Colmenares Pulido, co-founder Circleg, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 2, 2024

EP #388 - Nicole Colmenares Pulido: How to Make Prosthetics Accessible Worldwide

Nicole Colmenares Pulido
24
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Fundraising
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About Jonas Urwyler & Nico Hauschke:

⁠Jonas Urwyler⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠Capt’n Greenfin⁠, a fishing goods company striving to make fishing sustainable. He holds an MBA from the University of Freiburg and previously worked for companies like VZ VermögensZentrum and TIER Mobility before starting Capt’n Greenfin in 2021. ⁠Nico Hauschke⁠ is the General Manager of Germany and the EU at Capt’n Greenfin, and holds an MS in Digital Innovation & Business Transformation from the Steinbeis-Hochschule Schools of Next Practices. He worked for companies like RTL Group and Arvato Financial Solutions before joining Capt’n Greenfin in 2023.

It is estimated that 1’300 tons of plastic and another 1’300 tons of lead end up in European lakes every year due to lost fishing bait. If we add to this that the EU is planning on a complete ban of lead products by 2027, and is banning more and more single use plastic items, it becomes clear that in 2021 the timing was right to launch a sustainable fishing bait company. Capt’n Greenfin produces 100% biodegradable, protein-based bait which will not harm the environment if lost. They’re also conscientious about their packaging, and they produce in Europe, so as to avoid the environmental cost of transporting goods across the globe. 

They’re currently raising CHF 150K through the ⁠Swisspreneur Syndicate⁠ as part of their first fundraising round. Click ⁠⁠here⁠⁠ to learn more about the deal.

Jonas Urwyler & Nico Hauschke , co-founders Capt'n Greenfin, Swisspreneur Podcast
April 1, 2024

EP #387 - Jonas Urwyler & Nico Hauschke: How to Make Fishing Sustainable

Jonas Urwyler & Nico Hauschke
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About Ansuya Ahluwalia:

⁠Ansuya Ahluwalia⁠ is a co-founder of the wellness and inner transformation app ⁠Anamii⁠ and the CTO and Business Partner of ⁠thirty3⁠, which helps companies with innovative product development by building AI-first applications. She holds a MSc in Computer Science from UCLA and previously worked for companies like Amazon Lab126 and Vicara Infotech Group AG before starting Anamii in 2020.

Her parents are both engineers who worked for a period of time in Silicon Valley, which is why Ansuya was born there, even though their family originally hails from India. They then moved back to India where she continued her studies and pursued a bachelor’s degree. Ansuya then decided to do her master’s in Computer Science at UCLA, in California, specializing in Machine Learning. She went on to work for Amazon as a software developer, where she was successful, and promoted quickly, but where career perspectives looked far too predictable and cookie-cutter for her taste. So in 2017 Ansuya moved to Switzerland, taking a job at Vicara Infotech Group AG, where she worked first as Technical Lead and then as CTO. 

3 years on, she decided to quit her job and build Anamii, a platform to help people looking for improved mental wellbeing and spiritual growth be matched with the adequate professionals. Ansuya herself has benefited greatly in the past from meditation and yoga, and still does today. Two years later, in 2022, the business had really started seeing some traction, and Ansuya found it really fulfilling to be helping people in such a tangible way, but unfortunately the Swiss government had other plans: thinking that Ansuya had quit her tech job to become a spiritual coach herself, they mailed her a letter informing her that she was no longer working in a field that aligned with her skillset, and that if she did not return to the tech field within 1 year, she would be asked to leave the country. So Ansuya had no choice but to look for a day job, and the right opportunity came from friends over at thirty3. That same year, she joined Swisspreneur as a co-host, after having connected previously with our main host, Silvan. In 2023, Ansuya sold Anamii to HereNow, and remains active there only as a technical advisor.

Nowadays she is the CTO at thirty3, which helps its customers validate their business ideas, build their products/services in a way that leverages all the available open source code online, and integrate AI into their business wherever beneficial.

Ansuya Ahluwalia, CTO thirty3, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 28, 2024

EP #386 - Ansuya Ahluwalia: From India, to Silicon Valley, to Swisspreneur

Ansuya Ahluwalia
73
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Early Stage
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Early Stage
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About Alexander Ilic:

⁠Alex Ilic⁠ is the co-founder and executive director of the ⁠ETH AI Center⁠, one of the world's largest hubs for research in artificial intelligence, comprising a faculty of over 102 professors. He also co-founded Dacuda, S2S Ventures, and Talent Kick, and has invested in numerous Swiss startups. Alex holds a PhD in Management, Technology, and Economics from ETH.

During his chat with our host Silvan, Alex discussed the revolutionary impact of ChatGPT (which has allowed lay people to successfully use AI, instead of just coders), how AI companies don’t need to be very large to challenge tech giants like Google, how Swiss startups can best leverage AI and what it still can’t do for them, and how both government regulation and corporate responsibility play a role in eradicating the unethical biases present in AI models today.

This episode was produced in collaboration with startup days, taking place this year on May 30th 2024. Click here to purchase your ticket.

Alex Ilic, co-founder ETH AI Center, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 25, 2024

EP #385 - Alex Ilic: The AI Takeover, in Switzerland & Abroad

Alex Ilic
34
English
Growth & Scaling
Business Model
Growth & Scaling
Business Model
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About Seraina Soldner:

⁠Seraina Soldner⁠ is the co-founder and former co-director of ⁠SINGA Switzerland⁠, an incubator for projects built by people with a refugee or migrant experience, and currently a project manager at Hospital at Home Verein (hospitales). She holds an MA in International Affairs with a focus on International Law from the Geneva Graduate Institute and previously worked for Justice Rapid Response in Geneva, the UN Refugee Agency in Malta and the Munich Refugee Council before starting SINGA’s Swiss chapter in 2016.

SINGA is a unique incubator with the purpose to enhance entrepreneurial skills and provide a local network for people with a refugee or migrant experience. They also support them in achieving access to the Swiss labor market by running a variety of start up and mentoring programs. 25% of participants found a business/an association and 100% of participants feel more part of Swiss society after participating. The SINGA programs were made possible by the Migros Pioneer Fund, part of the social commitment of the Migros Group. The first SINGA organization was founded in 2012 in Paris.

The Migros Pioneer Fund is a voluntary development fund of the Migros Group companies. It was founded as the Migros Commitment Development Fund in 2012 and has since been actively scouting and promoting projects with a long-term benefit to society, and financially supporting them for between three and five years.

Seraina Soldner, co-founder SINGA Switzerland, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 21, 2024

EP #384 - Seraina Soldner: Migrants in Switzerland & Social Impact Entrepreneurship

Seraina Soldner
64
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About David Christen:

⁠David Christen⁠ is the co-founder and CMO at ⁠quitt⁠, a company that takes the effort, paperwork and stress out of employing domestic helpers for private households, and quitt.business, a platform for the registering and billing of startup employees. He studied Physics and Law at UZH but eventually quit to start his entrepreneurial venture in 2010, against the wishes of his parents.

quitt tackles a very pertinent issue: illegal work in Switzerland. It is estimated that 75M people worldwide work as domestic helpers, 80% of which are undeclared. In Switzerland, the numbers don’t look much better: 30-60% of employers don’t register their domestic helper. These workers are paid in cash, receive no insurance, and are not allowed to tell anyone about the work that they do. Cleaning companies then take a cut of 25-35%, whereas quitt charges only 5-8%. As a result, cleaners earn on average a 50% higher salary by working with quitt.

To date, quitt has over 20,000 customers, with around 40,000 employment contracts and a settled payroll of almost CHF 300 million in Switzerland. Starting in 2023, quitt will also offer its services in Germany. 

David Christen, co-founder quitt, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 14, 2024

EP #383 - David Christen: How to Eradicate Illegal Work in Switzerland

David Christen
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About Stefan Kyora & Thomas Heimann:

⁠Stefan Kyora⁠ is editor-in-chief at ⁠startupticker.ch⁠, the leading Swiss news portal for startups, supporters, innovators and investors, and holds a PhD in Philosophy and Business Ethics from the University of Konstanz. ⁠Thomas Heimann⁠ is a deputy general secretary at ⁠SECA⁠, the Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association, and the Head Risk Management & Equity Analyst at ⁠HBM Partners AG⁠, a Swiss healthcare investor. The two of them co-authored the 2023 Swiss Venture Capital Report, which you can download for free ⁠here⁠.

During their chat with Silvan, they summarized the report’s findings, as well as the conclusions we can draw from them:

  • It is still difficult for Swiss companies to raise large rounds from Swiss investors. This isn’t because we don’t have plenty of VC funds, or because those funds don’t invest in Swiss companies — there are many Swiss VC funds with at least 50% of their capital allocated to Swiss startups, but these are small funds investing small amounts.
  • The total amount of funds invested in Swiss startups (both foreign and Swiss) went down in 2023 for the first time in a while. After a 10 year boom, this is to be expected, and can easily be explained if we take the unfavorable international conjuncture into account. Comparatively, Switzerland is still doing well, and is quite stable.
  • Tradesales are also down in Switzerland, both when it comes to Swiss buyers and to foreign buyers. Thomas Heimann speculates they may increase, since larger, later stage fundraising rounds are becoming more rare.
  • Fintech, cleantech and biotech are the most popular and well-funded sectors in Switzerland.

Stefan Kyora & Thomas Heimann, editor in chief startupticker & deputy secretary general SECA, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 11, 2024

EP #382 - Stefan Kyora & Thomas Heimann: How Did The Swiss Startup Ecosystem Do in 2023?

Stefan Kyora & Thomas Heimann
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About Cristian Grossmann:

⁠⁠⁠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.

During his 12 years at beekeeper, Cris has learned many valuable lessons, the most important of which being to stay true to your company values not only when hiring people but also when taking on investors. In his chat with Ansuya he mentions one instance when beekeeper had only 3 weeks worth of runway left and was presented with a very big term sheet from an investor whose values were clearly not aligned with theirs. They almost gave in, which Cris thinks might have destroyed the company, but thankfully persistence and loyalty to the beekeeper values won out and the founders decided to pitch in some personal funds to keep things afloat. 

Cris’ motivation to remain at beekeeper after so many years continues to be his engineer’s affinity for solving complex problems and the mission of solving the tech issues of frontline workers, a demographic which has long been neglected despite making up 2B people worldwide. In the next stage of their company, the team plans to focus on achieving a steady, reliable profitability and attaining maximum efficiency. 

Cris Grossmann, co-founder Beekeeper, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 7, 2024

EP #381 - Cris Grossmann: A CEO’s Evolving Role

Cris Grossmann
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About Samuel Mueller:

⁠Samuel Mueller⁠ is the co-founder and CEO at ⁠Scandit⁠, the leading technology platform for mobile computer vision and augmented reality (AR) solutions for enterprises. He holds a PhD in Computer Science and Temporal Logics from ETH Zurich. Together with Christian Floerkermeier and Christof Roduner, he created Scandit in 2009.

Their goal with Scandit was to create a bridge between real world objects and the digital information available about them. Barcodes were then the natural entry points, especially at a time when phone cameras were just starting to become ubiquitous.

Scandit runs a subscription-based model which allows customers to “go as they grow”, meaning the bigger they get, the more Scandit services they can accrue. It's also a very high margin business, because a lot of the heavy lifting, the computer vision magic, is happening on the user devices, so there’s no distinct cloud need.

Samuel Mueller, co-founder Scandit, Swisspreneur Podcast
March 4, 2024

EP #380 - Samuel Mueller: Scandit Lessons in Scaling

Samuel Mueller
21
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Growth & Scaling
Growth & Scaling
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About Ana Montalban-Arques:

⁠Ana Montalban-Arques⁠ is co-founder and CEO of ⁠Recolony⁠, a biotech startup developing a bacteria-based oral therapy to treat cancer. She holds a PhD in Medicine from the Medizinische Universität Graz (Austria) and previously worked at hospitals in Spain and Switzerland before starting Recolony in 2022.

In the past few years, scientists have been made aware of the extent to which our gut microbiome influences our health. Considering we’ve been evolving alongside these bacterias for thousands upon thousands of years, it can be safely said that we’ve developed a symbiotic bond: the state of our microbiome influences our immune system and can even cause (or prevent) certain inflammatory diseases.

Recolony’s team took this research one step further when they found a deficiency in a certain type of bacteria in colorectal cancer patients, and hypothesized whether providing patients with the missing bacteria could help treat their disease. Animal tests showed that this specific bacteria can not only prevent tumors but also treat them once they are already in existence, and that it works not only with colorectal cancer but other sorts of cancers as well, regardless of the fact that the bacteria is in the gut and the tumor may be somewhere completely different in the body. This is because the bacteria produces molecules which travel through the bloodstream and activate an immune response to fight the tumors.

Recolony is a spin-off company from the University of Zurich that started as a research project in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospital Zurich. So far the team has received CHF160K in grant money.

Ana Montalban-Arques, co-founder Recolony, Swisspreneur Podcast
February 29, 2024

EP #379 - Ana Montalban-Arques: Treating Cancer with Bacteria

Ana Montalban-Arques
36
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About Philippe Greinacher & Alexander Häberlin:

Philippe Greinacher is the co-founder and CEO of ⁠nonormal⁠, a startup producing sustainable, high-quality coffee for outdoor consumption — that comes in a tube! He holds a BA in Business Administration from the Business School of Lausanne, and has more than 10 years of experience in business development, sales and partnerships working for Ringier, Ogilvy & Mather, Meltwater, PriceHubble in Africa and Europe.

⁠Alexander Häberlin⁠ is the co-founder and CMO of nonormal. He holds an MA in Marketing Management/Business Development from the University of Applied Sciences of Northwestern Switzerland and worked for many years in the design field helping various international companies such as Sennheiser, Meta, Leica or BAT.

nonormal partnered with a food development contractor to create coffee that is sustainable, organic, has great taste, is vegan and Swiss-made, and comes from a tube, allowing all outdoor enthusiasts to get a cup of coffee whenever they feel like it. So far they’ve got 15K pre-orders coming from 10 countries, CHF 100K from angel investors in Switzerland and the US, and commitments from retail distributors based in Switzerland and abroad.

They’re now raising CHF 500K in a convertible note, part of which is being raised through the Swisspreneur Syndicate. Click ⁠here⁠ to learn more about the deal.

Philippe Greinacher & Alexander Häberlin, co-founders nonormal, Swisspreneur Podcast
February 26, 2024

EP #378 - Philippe Greinacher & Alexander Häberlin: Why Your Next Hike Needs Coffee From A Tube

Philippe Greinacher & Alexander Häberlin
36
English
Early Stage
Fundraising
Early Stage
Fundraising
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About Holger Seim:

⁠Holger Seim⁠ is the co-founder and former CEO at ⁠Blinkist⁠, the mobile-first microlearning app. He holds a diploma from the Philipp University of Marburg and previously worked for companies like Volkswagen Group China and Deutsche Telekom before starting Blinkist in 2012.

Blinkist was created during the dawn of smartphones to solve a problem experienced not only by its co-founders but by many working professionals: wanting to learn new things, but not having the time to do so. They take long form content (mostly non-fiction books, but also podcast episodes and articles) and distill them into 15 minute reads or listens. Most features are behind a paywall, but there’s also 1 blink of the day that non-paying users can enjoy. Their user base includes both people who are readers and see Blinkist as a supplement, and people whose sole contact with books comes from Blinkist.

In 2023 Blinkist was acquired by the Australian content company Go1. This was a goal the Blinkist team had been pursuing ever since they took on VC money. Nowadays Holger is no longer the CEO of Blinkist but remains active as COO at Go1. 

Holger Seim, co-founder Blinkist, Swisspreneur Podcast
February 15, 2024

EP #376 - Holger Seim: The Blinkist Story

Holger Seim
56
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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
63
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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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Internationalization
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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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Fundraising
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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

Mallory Houston Nieman
40
English
Business Model
Growth & Scaling
Business Model
Growth & Scaling
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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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Internationalization
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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

Loris Niederberger
English
Culture
Culture
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