The Swisspreneur Show is a podcast series of in-depth, candid conversations with some of Switzerland’s most successful founders, business leaders and innovators. By getting to the heart of these leaders’ stories - their successes, their failures, their must-have advice and greatest regrets - we hope to both inspire and guide the next generation of Swiss entrepreneurs. Each episode deconstructs and showcases one person’s personal and professional background and provides advice and recommendations for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in Switzerland.
2:07 - Leaving a consulting firm
17:07 - Starting at Frontify
28:00 - Growing a company from 0 to 75k users
32:55 - Splitting development costs with his first client
36:40 - How self-explanatory products support customer growth
Your questions answered:
2:33 - Where can I find some good templates to set up my company in Zurich?
3:30 - How do I hire someone in Zurich?
5:49 - What's the most successful startup that was started in Zurich?
7:19 - Mistakes to avoid when starting a company in Zurich
10:14 - Living costs in Zurich
11:56 - Finding co-founders in Zurich
15:13 - Affordable office space in Zurich
17:48 - Looking for investment in Zurich
19:33 - How to get advisors on board
21:46 - Why start a business in Zurich?
25:08 - How startups can cooperate with universities in Zurich
26:41 - Does Zurich promote gender equality?
28:34 - Why are there so few politicians with real startup experience?
33:44 - How can we empower more startups in Zurich?
37:58 - Do cantonal taxes constitute an obstacle to new businesses?
40:20 - Can you be a political candidate and a business owner?
42:24 - How can startups reach out to politicians?
44:29 - What challenges does Andri face as a politician?
49:37 - What are Andri's strengths?
To get in touch with Andri, message him on Instagram @andrisilberschmidt
Estefanía has been listed in BILANZ's Top 100 Digital Shapers in Switzerland and in Forbes' 30 under 30.
8:02 - Should military service be mandatory for women?
12:19 - Growing up with 3 sisters and an entrepreneurial mom
18:35 - The women quota
20:58 - How can men support women?
27:18 - How do we get more women in leadership positions?
Estefanía has been listed in BILANZ Top 100 Digital Shapers in Switzerland and in Forbes' 30 under 30.
2:26 - Why Estefania left research to start her own company
10:35 - Growing up in an entrepeneurial family
21:27 - If you're gonna fail, fail fast.
30:18 - How Estefania went about looking for a location
35:19 - How Estefania structures negotiations
Your Questions Answered:
1:49 - Do I need a co-founder at all?
2:57 - At what stage should you look for co-founders?
3:48 - Is there an ideal number of co-founders?
4:42 - Can a company be a co-founder?
5:25 - Where do I find my co-founders?
6:52 - Friends/family as co-founders: yay or nay?
8:06 - Is it necessary to have previously known your co-founder?
10:45 - Does my co-founder need to be geographically close?
11:49 - What is a good test to figure out if a team works well?
14:32 - Should my co-founder be similar to me or completely different?
18:46 - How long should a co-founder take to decide jumping on board? Can they have a side job?
23:48 - What contracts/terms do you need to outline to manage the legal relationship with your partner?
26:11 - How do you split responsibilities with your co-founder? How does this evolve over time?
28:48 - Are there any KPIs you should watch for to achieve a good relationship with your co-founder(s)?
30:40 - On what aspects can you and your co-founder(s) disagree?
1:49 - What mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to hiring and managing people?
13:08 - The diversity question
25:48 - Good startup communication
44:47 - How to strengthen your gut feeling, in terms of hiring
49:44 - Should you hire friends and family?
Canopei founding partner Markus Okumus told us all about his students.ch success story, his health problems, and his investor's dreams.
1:53 - How Markus got involved with students.ch
21:49 - How to manage several business at the same time
25:13 - How to scale up very fast
38:25 - Why Markus started his investment company
47:12 - When should you actually move your startup to San Francisco
GetYourGuide co-founder Pascal Mathis answers all your burning, fundraising-related questions.
1:53 - What are some questions every founder should ask themselves before fundraising?
4:13 - How do you determine what is smart money for your business?
5:08 - When is the ideal time to find investors (not FFF)?
6:08 - After how much revenue did you start to look for investors?
9:17 - How can I estimate how much my startup is worth before starting the first financing round?
11:21 - What if you get a down round?
11:54 - How can you get your foot in the door with a potential investor?
15:38 - Where do I meet great investors in Switzerland if I don’t have a network yet?
16:28 - How do I best present my business idea/plan?
21:52 - Do you need a lawyer to create a term sheet?
23:28 - What are the key terms on a term sheet?
26:21 - What is the best practice of vesting schedules?
28:15 - How do you deal with uncertainty?
29:27 - How should you report to investors and work with them?
The role of a startup CEO is challenging and ever-changing. These are some of the tasks you should be ready to tackle in the initial stages of your company:
Getting the money to grow your company will probably take up the largest part of your time. While painful in the beginning, the tables can quickly turn as soon as you can show a promising funnel of clients or other signs of market traction.
In an early stage company, the CEO is usually the best sales person because they bring the passion needed to convince customers of a vision without a product.
Aim for a good mix of experienced employees and recently graduates.
Don’t be afraid to poach the talent you need from other companies
Working at your company should be more than just a job for your employees.
In order to be successful, you have to become part of the language for your customers, analysts, VCs, the press, etc. This doesn’t just happen but is the result of
Setting up a company board of directors
An ideal composition could be: 2 founders, 2 investors, 1 neutral person
Increased reporting duties to investors and the company board
Monthly reporting of the relevant KPIs (cash in the bank, burn rate, sales funnel, etc.) is ideal. It pays off to be well organized. Investors will usually keep asking similar questions, so having your documentation ready and up-to-date will make your life easier.
Handling people and their problems
As the company grows, the role of the CEO becomes increasingly managerial, which means handling employees and their issues.
Managing cash for growth
It is easy to overspend once there is some money in the bank. It’s the CEO’s task to keep as much money as possible in the company for growth and to keep an eye on the burn rate, in order not to miss the right moment for the B-series.
Evaluate your contribution to the company
After the B-round, your company will have likely grown significantly and you are ready to expand into new markets. This is usually a good time to take a step back and ask yourself if you are still the right person for the job. Some entrepreneurs prefer growing things over running them. In this case, it might be the right time to find an experienced manager from a large company to take over your role.
Ecosystem Ventures founder Alex Fries tell us about his switch from entrepreneur to investor and gives his two cents on why Europe needs to catch up with America and Asia, in the startup world.
2:03 - Why start a company in Switzerland after studying in the U.S.?
9:15 - How to scale up within 3 years
21:22 - Going from founder to investor
30:42 - What the entrepreneurial spirit should be like
35:58 - Is age a factor, in the startup world?
This month we bring you an extra episode! With Frank Thelen, co-founder and CEO at Freigeist Capital, a successful investing company.
1:54 - Going bankrupt as a young adult
12:18 - Key values for founders
15:39 - When to drop a business venture
17:23 - VC funding or bootstrapping?
18:55 - Europe's role in the global startup scene
We got a chance to chat with Renato Stalder, CEO at KLARA Business, which works as a central hub, automating communications with authorities, tax offices, insurance companies and banks!
1:53 - What mistakes do Swiss Startups make repeatedly regarding their finances?
4:11 - When should you decide to hand your accounting to someone else?
16:05 - Insurances, deductions and fees to take into account
34:06- What to do when a customer doesn't pay the invoice
44:05 - Where to find the right financial partners
This month we got to chat with Christian Meisser, CEO at LEXR, a top provider of legal services based in Zürich. Christian gave us his in-depth insight on what startups should pay attention to, when it comes to the legal aspect of things. Click play!
1:50 - What mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to the legal aspect?
10:54 - How to get out of a tricky contract
26:30 - How to handle investors
40:00 - HR: attracting and retaining talent
48:50 - Should you have a strong legal partner on your side?
Co-founder of Advertima Iman Nahvi gives us his hard-earned insights on B2B Sales.
2:10 - Mistakes Swiss founders make repeatedly when it comes to B2B Sales
12:37 - How to determine your target clients
22:22 - Where to look for leads
36:20 - How to close a deal faster
42:43 - What KPIs to focus on
Co-Founder of Advertima Iman Nahvi told us about his road to startup success.
2:26 - Should you start a business with a family member?
4:33 - Why Iman went from banking to entrepreneurship
20:50 - How Iman chooses his employees
28:40 - Paying every employee the same salary
33:11- Employee stock option pools
Alan Frei gave us a few key tips on B2C Marketing for startups.
1:23 - What mistakes do Swiss founders repeatedly make when it comes to B2C marketing?
11:00 - Investing in auto-marketing activities
14:04 - Improving conversion rate
21:02 - Best tools for marketing
29:18 - The marketing channel of the future
This month we talked to Alan Frei, co-founder of Amorana, a well-known, Swiss online sex shop!
1:32 - What can the Swiss startup ecosystem learn from the Chinese one?
12:10 - The importance of having the right focus
16:20 - How Alan's father being an entrepreneur influenced him
20:57 - Does minimalism bring happiness?
26:34 - The role of the social circle when it comes to personal growth and support
Daniel Gutenberg gives us his tips on smart fundraising.
1:15 - Mistakes Swiss founders make repeatedly.
4:20 - How to find the right evaluation.
09:58 - How much money should an early-stage company raise?
21:47 - How should a startup team deal with an investor?
29:12 - How often does Daniel check-in with his investments?
Daniel Gutenberg - an angel investor that has collected 12 unicorns in his portfolio so far!
2:55 - How he started his first company
14:28 - His first successful exit
19:00 - Being a Venture Capitalist and an Angel Investor at the same time
27:40 - What are the characteristics of a Unicorn CEO?
39:33 - The future of blockchain technology and crypto assets in general
Today we talked to Herbert Bay about what a killer product looks like and why.
1:19 - Mistakes Swiss startups repeatedly make when creating a product
10:03 - How long does it take to build a great tech product?
12:44 - How to acquire customers
17:46 - Bringing new technology to Switzerland
26:22 - What makes a great product?
Have a listen to our interview with Herbert Bay, a successful entrepreneur who went on a 4-year sailing trip with his wife and kids.
1:20 - What made Herbert Bay become an entrepreneur.
5:40 - Having two technical founders; dealing with lack of business knowledge.
7:30 - Raising 10 million dollars.
12:25 - How Herbert dealt with a difficult time in his life; what he learnt.
24:57 - Managing a company from a distance.
Today we talked to Cédric Waldburger, founder of Sendtask, about the ins and outs of team-building in the startup world.
1:23 - Team-related mistakes
4:50 - Giving guidance vs offering freedom to employees
7:11 - The company lifecycle
12:55 - The ideal co-founding relationship
34:25 - Sendtask and remote teams
Today we had a chat with Cédric Waldburger, the man who's involved in 11 different business projects and owns only 64 things.
1:37 - Delivering value to 11 different projects at the same time
14:19 - How the Swiss military service supported/hindered Cédric's entrepreneurial career
20:15 - Owning only 64 things
22:52 - What is DFINITY?
34:42 - 90-day goals
Today we talk to the Founder and former CEO of Atizo, Christian Hirsig, about the topic ideas. He talks about how to stress test your business idea for success.
1:30 - What mistakes do you see Swiss startup founders repeatedly make?
7:30 - How to obtain accurate feedback for your idea.
14:50 - Where to spend your time: documentation vs implementation. How to implement. The minimum viable product.
25:40 - Data gathering to evaluate the possible success of your idea.
28:12 - When to kill your idea or move on from it
Today we visit Swisspreneurs co-founder, Christian Hirsig at Effinger in Bern. He talks about his new social venture PowerCoders.org and much more.
3:00 - Changes for Swisspreneur.
6:28 - Associations vs For-profit companies.
12:40 - Finding good employees.
16:36 - The ideal founding situation. Can you work with your spouse?
23:25 - Growing up in an entrepreneurial family.
26:47 - When to leave a startup.
Today, we are visiting Anastasia Hofmann and Naomi MacKenzie at the Kickstart Accelerator in Zurich. The two talk about the factors of success for startup competitions, the experience with their first pilot client and what it means to have your best friend as a co-founder.
Today we visit Thomas Sterchi at his home and place of work in Zurich. Thomas talks about the secrets to his success with jobs.ch and what it means to build a company that is independent of you as a person.
Today, we visit Rosmarie Michel at her home in the heart of Zurich. In a candid conversation, she lets us in on over 60 years of experience about what it means to be a female entrepreneur in Switzerland, then and now.
Today, we talk to Markus Popp, founder of tilllate.com. Markus talks about the spectacular success and the sudden failure of his first business, why we tend to mystify entrepreneurship today and what it means to create a vision for yourself.
Today, we talk to Lea von Bidder at the Ava Headquarters in Zurich. Lea talks about the gender gap in the start-up ecosystem, why the team decided to launch Ava in the US and the peculiarities of American investors.
In this episode, we are visiting Daniel and Markus Freitag at the FREITAG Factory in Zurich. They tell us how they grew the company without outside investors, why they decided to start a clothing line and why FREITAG lab.ag doesn't need a CEO.
In this episode, we visit Adrian Locher, the founder of DeinDeal. Adrian talks to us about the greatest lessons of his career, why it is important to start your venture early and how it feels when your success exceeds the best case scenario.
Today, we are visiting Peter Schüpach, Co-Founder of SwissCommerce & fmr Founder and CEO of Miracle, at the SwissCommerce warehouse in Langethal. Peter tells us about the rise and fall of Miracle and how he knows when it’s time for him to move on to something new.
Today, we talk to Roman Gaus, CEO and Founder of UrbanFarmers, at his urban farm in Basel. UrbanFarmers mission is to revolutionize the way we provide people in urban spaces with fresh food. Roman lets us in on the technology of Aquaponics, talks about the challenges social impact start-ups face and why the entrepreneurial reality might differ from what many people imagine.
In this Episode, we are visiting André Borschberg, Co-founder, CEO and Pilot at Solar Impulse in his home on lake Geneva. Together with Bertrand Piccard, André achieved what many thought to be impossible: to fly a solar powered air plane around the globe. André will tell us about the vision and mission behind Solar Impulse, how to put together a great team and how to manage risk and crisis in a start-up.
Today, we are visiting Alisée de Tonnac, Founder and CEO of Seedstars World, at a Seedspace in Geneva. For her company, she has travelled to many different countries and she is committed to making Seedstars World a truly global initiative. Alisée will tell us about the why she quit her corporate job, the importance of hiring the right people and what we can learn from entrepreneurs in other parts of the world.
Today, we’re going to talk to Daniel Graf. He’s a true Silicon Valley veteran having worked at Google, Twitter and most recently Uber. We’re going to talk to him about how he started and sold his company Kyte, how he launched the award winning Google Maps mobile app and what he learned from being VP of product at Twitter. Enjoy the show!
In this episode we’re in San Francisco and we’re going to talk to Toni Schneider, the former CEO of Automattic (the company behind Wordpress.com) and Co-founder and Partner of True Ventures. He will tell us how he sold his first company to Yahoo!, some of the leadership challenges he faced being a CEO and how he became a world class venture capitalist at True Ventures.
Today we’ll talk to Myke Näf, the founder and former CEO of Doodle, arguably one of the most successful internet startups to have come out of Switzerland in recent years. We’re going to chat with Myke about his upbringing on a farm, how he came up with the idea for Doodle and why he decided to leave the company after he sold it to Tamedia.
We’re going to meet Dania Gerhardt, the co-founder and CEO of Amazee Labs, a full-service web agency with offices all over the world. Dania went through a lot of ups and downs with her startup. We’re going to talk to her about how she recognized when it was time to pivot, how she works with her co-founder husband and what Switzerland can do to become more entrepreneurial.
We're kicking off the Swisspreneur Show with Alain Chuard, the Swiss pro snowboarder from Bolligen who sold his software company to Google for $450 Million. We're going to talk to him about how it was to grow up in an entrepreneurial family in Switzerland, why he decided to study in the US and how why he sold his software company to Google.