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Swisspreneur Show

Swisspreneur Show

By Swisspreneur
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.
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EP #82 - Startup Of The Week: Caressoma

Swisspreneur Show

EP #124 - Sreenath Bolisetty: Purifying Water With Milk Proteins
Timestamps: 1:49 - From ETH Researcher to startup founder 9:00 - Winning Investor's Choice 10:35 - Clean tech competitors 12:43 - Having a hard time with sales 17:55 - Moving from India to Europe at 19 About Sreenath Bolisetty and Blue Act Technologies Sreenath Bolisetty is the co-founder and CEO of BluAct Technologies, an ETH spin-off which provides a technology for water purification from heavy metals through milk proteins. In 2020, the company won the Expert’s Choice Award at the Energy Startup Days. Originally from a small village in India, Sreenath obtained his PhD from the University of Bayreuth. He went on to work as a Senior Researcher at ETH Zurich and in 2016, started BluAct Technologies as his first company. BluAct’s purifying system differentiates itself through its high level of effectiveness at a low cost point. Being able to run without electricity, it is the perfect choice for water purification in remote areas - something which BluAct Technologies has proven through their various pilots in remote communities around the world. Their milk protein membranes are suitable both for water purification in individual households and at large scales of thousands of cubic meters of water. With 2 products already on the market, BluAct Technologies wants to expand its offering to cover purification for radioactively polluted water. The company is planning to raise USD 3m in their next investment round to help with the commercialization and certifications of its products. Memorable Quotes "A very strong motivation to start BluAct was the fact that I come from India, where water problems are a very real day-to-day issue." If you would like to listen to more episodes on ETH spin-offs, check out our conversations with Mark Essam and Mina Kamel. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
January 17, 2021
EP #123 - Tobias Häckermann: How Culture Makes Or Breaks A Startup
Timestamps: 4:18 - Why is culture so important? 16:17 - How to establish a culture 21:39 - Hiring the right people for your culture 37:45 - When employees leave 41:53 - Rapid fire questions The Episode in 60 seconds Getting company culture right. Common mistakes around company culture - Underestimating its importance: Your company vision makes sure everyone pulls on the same rope. The culture ensures everyone pulls in the same direction. Having a strong culture helps employees take good decisions without always referring to their managers for guidance, therefore making the company more efficient and agile. - Getting started too late: while a team of 5 might not need an explicit culture statement, it’s easy to miss the right moment to “get started with culture”. This is especially detrimental if you’ve already hired employees who are not a great cultural fit. Finding and growing your culture - Company culture is the result of shared values. Most often, these will be the values of the founding team. - If you aren’t sure what your values are, a good place to start is by observing your feelings in your day to day business interactions. Do you get frustrated when someone doesn’t appreciate the work you do? Maybe appreciation is a value you hold dearly. Do you love to receive candid feedback from others? Maybe openness is important to you. - Once the founding team is aligned on their values, make them explicit and talk about them often. Base your decisions (particularly around hiring and firing) on these shared values. Scaling culture - While you grow, it’s extremely important to stay true to your values and not to accept a culture misfit just because someone is good at their job and/or you struggle to find someone to replace them. - Everyone is responsible for nurturing company culture and calling out cultural incompatibility. Don’t outsource this important task to a “Chief Culture Officer” or similar. - Nobody is perfect and employees (and you as well) will sometimes fail to live up to your values. That’s okay, as long as you and the person in question clearly see the problem and a path towards improvement. Measuring culture - While there is no “right” or “wrong” culture, there is culture that works and culture that doesn’t. A way to measure the “health” of your culture is via employee happiness and employee Net Promoter Score (NPS). - To add more color to the employee NPS, consider also measuring the number of employee referral hires you get. Referring a friend is a strong indicator of happiness and a well working culture. Memorable Quotes "Establishing a great company culture reduces the amount of time you need to spend handling internal affairs, and leaves that time free for actually helping your customers." "If your core team does not share your company values, then you're never gonna establish a culture. Culture is established through behavior." If you would like to listen to more conversations on startup culture, check out our episodes with Cédric Waldburger and Markus Orkumus. 
January 13, 2021
EP #122 - Laurent Coulot: The Sunny Future Ahead
Timestamps: 1:46 - Developing the next generation of solar modules 7:29 - Does winning awards help a startup? 8:56 - Fierce competition from China 12:03 - The non-liberalized energy market in Switzerland 14:32 - What will 2021 bring? About Laurent Coulot and Insolight Laurent Coulot is the co-founder and CEO of Insolight, a photovoltaic startup. Laurent started Insolight in 2015, together with his two co-founders, Mathieu Ackermann and Florian Gerlich. Within 5 years, the company has grown to over 15 employees. With Insolight, the co-founders focus on a very specific area of the photovoltaic market which is not yet well served by mass produced photovoltaic panels - agrivoltaics. Insolight’s solar panels are both translucent and highly efficient. These properties make the panels uniquely suited to be  deployed on top of areas which are used for growing crops - therefore reducing the land use competition between agriculture and photovoltaic by allowing them to coexist in the same space. In 2020, Insolight closed a $ 5m series A and received its first orders from industrial customers. The company was also awarded the public choice award at the Swiss Energy Startup Days. In 2021, Insolight plans to build and ship more than 1000 panels. Before starting Insolight, Laurent worked as an Applications Engineer at Melexis. He holds a Masters in Micro and Nanosystems from the EPFL. Memorable Quotes: "We think market regulations should reflect the fact that solar energy has a pretty much non-existent carbon footprint." If you would like to listen to more episodes on solar power, check out our conversations with André Borschberg, Anaïs Matthey-Junod, Sébastien Jaffaux and Liliane Ableitner. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
January 10, 2021
EP #121 - Tobias Häckermann: Putting An End To Meeting Madness
Timestamps: 2:34 - Why study law and not business? 18:06 - Can you work on a startup part-time? 34:46 - Being motivated by challenges. 48:31 - Having a big client not renew the contract 59:58 - Companies asking for discounts About Tobias Häckermann and Sherpany Tobias Häckermann is the co-founder and CEO of Sherpany, a provider of meeting management software for leadership meetings. Tobias started his first company right out of high school. As a long time practitioner of martial arts, he was the go-to person if one of his friends needed a bouncer for a party or other event. Seeing an opportunity, Tobias started PNC security. Through his first venture, he met Nathanael Wettstein, who would later become one of his co-founders at Sherpany. Tobias sold PNC security to a competitor for CHF 70k. He went on to start easyComm, a platform for digital events which he sold to Alphablue Eventmanagement. During this entire time, Tobias was still obtaining his law degree from the University of Zurich. During his semester abroad at University of Siena, the idea for Sherpany was born. Originally, Sherpany was conceived as a communication tool between companies and their shareholders. For nearly two years, Sherpany was trying to bring the product to the market, until the founders realized they were not solving the right problem for their customers. The company pivoted to providing software for agile meeting management in leadership teams and has since grown to a multinational company with offices in Paris, Lisbon, Milano, Wroclaw, Berlin and Zurich. Memorable Quotes "It's okay to work part-time on a startup at the beginning. But at some point you've got to start giving it your all, otherwise you're gonna iterate too slow and you're gonna get frustrated, because you're going nowhere." "I always thought the bigger your company gets, the more things it should be able to do. But it's the opposite — the bigger you get, the more focus you need." Tobias Häckermann's Favorite Resources Blinkist If you would like to listen to other episodes on organizational matters, check out our conversation with Christian Burger. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
January 6, 2021
EP #120 - Liliane Ableitner: The Sustainable Neighborhoods Of Tomorrow
Timestamps: 2:00 - Why start your own company? 7:29 - Winning Investor's Choice at Energy Startup Day 12:15 - How to stand out from competition 28:24 - Closing a funding round 33:23 - Choosing between Germany, Switzerland and Austria About Liliane Ableitner and Exnaton 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. Since then, Exnaton has signed 2 pilot customers and is currently fundraising. 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. Memorable Quotes "If you're in a market with 0 competition, then you're in the wrong market, because either you're on a completely wrong track or you're way too early." If you would like to listen to more conversations on green tech, check out our episodes with Mark Essam, Anaïs Matthey-Junod, Alessandra Rojas and Sébastien Jaffaux. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
January 3, 2021
EP #119 - Teo Borschberg: The Overnight Pivot
Timestamps: 2:11 - Typical pivoting mistakes 5:41 - Finding the right customer 15:32 - Generating your first revenue 18:49 - Maximizing growth 25:19 - Product-market fit The episode in 60 seconds Pivoting your business idea to success. Mistakes to avoid - Waiting too long to pivot because you have gotten emotionally attached to the solution or somehow locked yourself in too early. - Iteration cycles which are too long. Building out a finished and polished product for every iteration will make you slow and waste large amounts of resources. The Startup Pivot Pyramid by 500 Insights - The Pyramid gives you an idea of how aspects of your product build on each other (customer, problem, solution, tech, growth). - This helps you understand, for one, which areas you need to define first in order to move up the pyramid, and two, how consequential a potential pivot in one area is for other areas of your business (i.e. a pivot in customers you are addressing is far more consequential than a pivot in the tech stack you are using) Customers and their problems - Finding enough customers in a big enough market that have the same problem is always the first problem you’ll want to solve when looking to achieve product-market-fit. - Talking to potential customers under the pretense of collecting data for a survey can be a subtle entry point to start a conversation. - Your primary goal in customer conversations should be to evaluate how the problem you are trying to solve for them ranks amongst their other problems and how much they’d be willing to pay for solving it. Ideally, if the problem is big enough, customers will ask about buying your solution once it’s live already at this stage. - Try to interview 50 to 100 potential customers and narrow down the hypothesis about your customer profile as you go. - Analyze the results of your conversations based on the $ amount each type of customer is willing to pay to have their problem solved. - Clarify the 3 whys for your customers in detail: why buy anything, why buy us and why buy now. As for the “why buy now”, it often pays off to have a fix point to create urgency: a product release, a trade show, a board meeting or something else your customer cares about and that encourages them to move the deployment of your product along quickly. Solution - Once you think you have an idea of who your customer is and what problems you are solving for them, come up with the simplest version of your product that addresses the most pressing points of the problem. - You’d be surprised how much can be faked in these early product versions. Don’t worry about having efficient code and well-trained algorithms. Most likely, hardly anyone will be using this first version anyway and you’ll have to rebuild your tech stack anyway as you learn and scale. Growth - Today it’s cheap to run growth experiments across different channels, so there is really no excuse not to do it. - Notice that growth sits at the top of the pyramid. There is really no point in throwing money into growth marketing if you are not certain yet that you have found the problem and solution that really works for your customers.
December 30, 2020
EP #118 - Teo Borschberg: Breaking Boundaries With Voice AI
Timestamps: 2:18 - Being André Borschberg's son 15:45 - The market for voice AI 21:08 - A co-founder leaves the company 26:52 - How to look for advisors 32:59 - Having offices in several countries About Teo Borschberg and Teo Borschberg is the co-founder and CEO of, an AI-powered voice intelligence solution. Teo started his entrepreneurial career after obtaining his maturité (high school diploma). He relocated to China, where he spent 8 months working in a factory, 6.5 days a week. During this time, he started to resell paintings and furniture from China to Europe, and his first company, Artefact Co, was born. Three years later, upon the completion of  his Bachelor in Hospitality Management at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Teo returned to China to start his second company, the media advertising business Good Media. In 2015, he sold Good Media and reoriented himself towards the US. He joined SRI International, a renowned non-profit research institute as Entrepreneur in Residence. In this position, he was tasked with finding business opportunities for the cutting edge technologies the Institute was developing. This is where the idea for originated. Three years later the company has raised $ 5.8 m in seed financing, has analyzed over 10 m conversations and serves 10 large customers globally. While was originally selling mainly to call centers, they - as so many others - had to pivot during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Within a few short months, the company set itself up to offer an API / SDK to its product in order to let developers use it in almost any context imaginable - from wearables to smart home devices, and even telemedicine. Memorable Quotes "It's always dangerous to have a technology and be looking for a market, instead of having a market and be looking for a technology." "I will only say we have a product-market fit the day we have customers kicking down our door to get their hands on the product." If you would like to listen to more episodes on AI, check out our conversations with Aldo Podestà, David Alain Bloch and Martin Keller. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
December 23, 2020
EP #117 - Tatiana Cogne: Startups In Lausanne
Timestamps: 1:39 - The START Lausanne 6:07 - The team 9:25 - The Covid challenge 11:58 - The resources of the Romandy ecosystem 15:09 - What's next for Tatiana? About Tatiana Cogne and START Lausanne Tatiana Cogne is the President of START Lausanne and Head of Communication at Swiss Solar Boat. Tatiana joined START in 2019 as an event organizer, after having participated in START Hack and START Summit in St. Gallen. After 9 months as Event Organizer, she advanced to President of the chapter in June 2020. Under her leadership, START Lausanne has been reinventing itself over and over again during the last couple months in order to comply with ever changing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Beyond that, Tatiana initiated the forming of a network of entrepreneurship organizations across the Swiss Romandy: rather than each organization working independently in their city, they now collaborate on news distribution and other opportunities. START Lausanne offers events, workshops and mentoring to students and other people interested in entrepreneurship. They also participate in the "Road to START Summit" initiative, a 6 month competition where startups receive support to refine their business idea and potentially win a CHF 30k prize. START Lausanne is one of 10 chapters of the START Global organization in Europe. START Global was founded in 2005 out of the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and has since become one of Europe’s top startup events. Memorable Quotes "When I finish my presidency at START Lausanne, I want to do so with the knowledge that I motivated every single one of my colleagues to surpass themselves." If you would like to listen to more conversation with entrepreneurs from the Swiss Romandy, check out our conversations with Anaïs Matthey-Junod, Alessandra Rojas, Sébastien Jaffaux and Aldo Podestà. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
December 20, 2020
EP #116 - Mina Kamel: Sky-High Innovation At ETH
Timestamps: 1:26 - From Milano to Zurich 9:08 - The problem with the inspection of inaccessible areas 17:13 - Getting business know-how for your all-tech team 20:56 - New drones in town 32:44 - Preparing for the future About Mina Kamel and Voliro Mina Kamel is the co-founder and CEO of Voliro, a producer of robotic drones for inspection and light maintenance at height. Mina obtained his Bachelors in Automation Engineering Technology from the Politecnico di Milano before moving to Zurich to obtain his Masters and eventually his PhD in Mechatronic, Robotics and Automation Engineering from ETH Zürich. During his PhD, he contributed to the Aeroworks project, where much of the inspiration for Voliro was drawn from. He also met his 4 co-founders, Timo Müller, Dr. Marius Fehr, Dr. Anurag Vempati and Dr. Thomas Schneider, during this time. With all five co-founders coming from a technical background, they supplemented their business knowledge through advisors and coaching by Venture Lab. The team quickly realized that the timing for Voliro was right. Not only had the technology for robotic drones matured, but there was a strong pull from the oil, gas and infrastructure industries to lower operational costs through increased efficiency in maintenance. Voliro closed a CHF 2m seed round in 2020 with Alex Fries's Alpana Ventures as lead investor. They will use the seed round capital to get their product to the market faster and are planning to raise a series A round towards the end 2021 for CHF 5-10m. Memorable Quotes "Falling from a great height is the number 2 biggest cause of workplace injuries. With our solution, robots do the dangerous work, and people stay safely with their feet on the ground." "Product development is a skill you can develop, but it takes a very long time. Sometimes it's just more practical to hire professional help." Mina Kamel's Favorite Resources Garmin Sports Watch Dare To Lead, by Bréne Brown If you would like to listen to more of our ETH co-productions, check out our conversations with Caspar Coppetti and Mark Essam. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
December 16, 2020
EP #115: Aldo Podestà: Democratizing Access To AI
Timestamps: 1:29 - Why create an AI startup? 9:00 - Having a great team 10:33 - Combining vision with short-term strategy 16:57 - Creating a company narrative 19:07 - Tips for students today Biography: Aldo Podestà is the founder and CEO of L2F, the company behind the platform, which builds and hosts high performance machine learning applications. Before starting Giotto in 2017, Aldo Podestà worked in Sales Strategy at Philip Morris, in Lausanne. The idea for Giotto was born when he presented at a high level management meeting and was asked to provide an explanation for the recommendations his machine learning based strategy model had provided. When he was unable to explain the recommendations of his own model, he suspected that there would be tremendous value in a solution that would increase a machine learning model’s interpretability. Not long after its inception, won a competition on Kaggle, one of the most prestigious data science platforms globally. In 2019, the company closed a CHF 3.2 Series A round which allowed them to pursue their ambitious vision. As a CEO, Aldo initially struggled to assemble the right team around him: betting on exclusively young and ambitious employees proved to be a mistake. Today, he counts on a more mixed team with various levels of experience. Memorable Quotes: "You don't run a company alone. You run it with every single one of your employees." Resources Mentioned: - VentureLab (Venture Kick) - Innosuisse If you would like to listen to more episodes on AI, check out our conversations with David Alain Bloch and Martin Keller. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
December 13, 2020
EP #114 - Yoko Spirig: The Benefits Of Employee Participation Plans
Timestamps: 2:19 - Why doesn't Europe get employee participation plans right? 7:04 - How much equity should you give your employees? 16:26 - How to communicate stock option plans to your team 23:35 - The politics of stock option plans 27:53 - Rapid fire questions Episode in 60 seconds Getting employee participation plans right. Why participation plans are important - As a startup, you’ll often struggle to compete with established companies on the salary front. Stocks are your secret weapon to attract top talent in spite of limited cash. - Holding stocks factually makes the employees co-owners of the company. It’s easy to see the positive influence on mindset and attitude that co-ownership can bring. Participation plans in Europe vs the US - Employees in Europe hold less than half of the company stock than their US counterparts. This is among other things due to lower awareness of the value of participation plans amongst the European workforce. The mechanics of participation plans - How much stock should you reserve for employees? Generally good bench marks are 5-10% in the early stages of your company and up to 20-30% in later stages - Who should receive stocks? Ideally, everyone. Large companies like Google still offer stocks to every new employee which joins the company. Long term employees should get regular “refreshers” i.e. more stock added to their portfolio - How do you decide who gets what? There are 3 dimensions to get you started. Depending on your priorities and culture, you might to weigh them differently - Seniority level: more responsibility means more stock - Employee number: early joiners took a higher risk when betting on your company and should be rewarded accordingly - Tech vs non tech talent: the truth is, tech talent is much harder to compete for in today’s labor market, so it’s common to offer them larger participation options Pitfalls of participation plans - When you are short on cash, it’s tempting to think you can make up for a low salary with stocks. This is not a fair way to treat your employees as you are forcing them to bet their financial security almost entirely on the success of your company. - It may also be tempting to oversell the value of participation plans to your employees. Wile it’s certainly not wrong to strive for a unicorn valuation, the truth is most companies will never get there and you should be honest with your employees about this. - Be aware that in Europe, every country has their own rules for how employees participation plans work and how they are taxed. Consider getting some legal help when you want to internationalize. If you want to listen to more conversations with Yoko, check out our story episode with her. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
December 9, 2020
EP #113 - Sébastien Jaffaux: The Swiss Solar Boat
Timestamps 1:21 - Motivation for starting your own business 4:24 - Rocking with your friends 7:46 - Struggling with team management 10:54 - What is the Swiss Romandy ecosystem doing well? 16:07 - More about Sébastien Biography Sébastien Jaffaux is the founder and CTO of the Swiss Solar Boat Association, a project created by engineering students from EPFL and HEIG-VD. Swiss Solar Boat aims to create a solar powered racing boat from scratch, to compete in contests such as the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2021. Swiss Solar Boat is not your typical startup. It emerged from the EPFL Hydrocontest Team which represented the EPFL at the Hydrocontest competition for maritime energy efficiency. Sébastien started out as communication manager at the Hydrocontest Team and became president of the association in 2018.  As president, he led the transition from Hydrocontest to Swiss Solar Boat in 2019. Today, the Swiss Solar Boat Association is made up of over 60 students from various technical backgrounds who work together to create a solar powered boat from scratch, including producing the individual boat parts. Currently, Sebastien lives and breathes his project and enjoys pulling off such a challenging feat with some of his closest friends. But due to the nature of the association, he will be handing over his responsibilities as CTO and Vice President once he finishes his Masters degree in mechanical engineering at EPFL in the Summer of 2021. Memorable Quotes "The Swiss Romandy is missing a place where all entrepreneurs can meet to exchange know-how and enrich their perspective." For more marine tech episodes, check out our conversation with Christian Fehr. Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
December 6, 2020
EP #112 - Yoko Spirig: Creating The Most Flexible Equity Management Solution
Timestamps: 2:37 - From studying physics to becoming an entrepreneur 9:55 - Splitting roles 18:01 - The initial idea for Ledgy 22:10 - Finding your first clients 30:12 - Dealing with American competitors Biography: Yoko Spirig is the co-founder and CEO of Ledgy, an equity management company for startups and high growth companies. Yoko studied Physics at ETH Zurich, the University of Oxford and CERN. She was also project lead of Swissloop, helping to build the first Hyperloop pod in Switzerland. Yoko met her two co-founders, Ben Brandt and Timo Horstschaefer, during her time at university. It was also during that time that they were first made aware of the problems related to equity management that many young companies (and their investors) face through a conversation with the Doodle founders, Michael Näf and Paul Sevinç, who were looking for a startup team on cofoundme. After graduating from ETH Zurich, the three friends went on a journey with the transsiberian railway from Vladivostok to Moscow where they read up on startup business strategy and sharpened the idea which would eventually become Ledgy. The company pivoted after 1.5 years from a free product to introducing business pricing and targeting larger companies rather than early stage startups. In the early days, the co-founding team also toyed with the idea of using Blockchain technology to enable their product. They however abandoned that plan after evaluating the regulatory framework and their customer needs. Today, Ledgy serves companies like Frontify, VIU and Sherpany and employs a team of over 10 people. Resources Mentioned: Zero to One, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries Memorable Quotes: "A good board is a hands-off one — they don't try to micro-manage the company. But they are also always there to offer good advice." "I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to have a direct, short-term impact on society."
December 2, 2020
EP #111 - Alessandra Rojas: Tech4Impact In The Swiss Romandy
Timestamps: 1:34 - The reason behind Tech For Impact 7:20 - Who's the target student? 11:51 - Milestones so far 17:40 - Toughest challenge 25:56 - More about Alessandra About Alessandra and Tech4Impact Alessandra Rojas is the manager of the EPFL Changemakers program, an incubator program which is part of the EPFL’s Tech4Impact initiative for accelerating ground-breaking and sustainable technological solutions to create positive societal and environmental impact. She was also a co-initiator of Versus Virus, a hackathon to develop solutions against the COVID 19 crisis. As one of the world’s top universities for technology and science, EPFL is one of Switzerland’s most significant hubs for innovation. The EPFL Changemakers program emerged from the EPFL’s grant program and belongs to the unit of the Vice Presidency for Innovation at EPFL. Where previously entrepreneurs at EPFL were mostly supported through financial means such as grants, the goal of the Changemakers program is to provide more holistic support to early stage entrepreneurs and to make sustainability a cornerstone of what it means to be an  EPFL startup. The program was launched in October of this year with a first cohort of 20 students across the Bachelor, Master and PhD level. Due to the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic, the program has had to evolve rapidly over the past months. Nevertheless, the 20 students will receive 6 months of intensive training and mentoring through peers and experts and are on track to graduate successfully from the program in February 2021. Memorable Quotes:  "Our GameChangers program has shown to us that the EPFL's students' interest in sustainable solutions is much higher than we had originally anticipated." "The changes that Covid has brought about have really helped startups with founders spread all across Switzerland cooperate better among themselves." If you would like to listen to more episodes on green startups, check out our conversations with André Borschberg, Anastasia Hofmann & Naomi MacKenzie, Jutta Jertrum, Nicholas Hänny, Mark Essam and Anaïs Matthey-Junod. Don't forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there's no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
November 29, 2020
EP #110 - Luiza Dobre: Revolutionizing Medical Care
Timestamps: 7:35 - Reasons for leaving the corporate world 16:19 - Finding the right problem to solve 23:11 - Do solo founders work? 38:09 - Dealing with rejection 46:07 - The scalability issue Biography: Luiza Dobre is the founder and CEO of Komed Health, a healthcare communications platform. She started Komed Health in 2016, after a long time toying with different ideas and struggling to find the right co-founder. Komed Health emerged from the realization that while communication is a challenge in every sector, in healthcare, the consequences of failed communication can be the difference between life and death. Four years onwards, Komed Health helps health practitioners all over Switzerland communicate faster and more effectively among themselves, which results in better decisions, a happier staff and healthier patients. With Marc Bornträger, Luiza has also finally found a technical co-founder to complement her skill set. Before starting Komed Health, Luiza worked as a marketing and sales specialist for major brands like Swarovski and Schindler. She also obtained a CEMS Master of International Management from the University of St. Gallen and ESADE Business School. Resources mentioned: Be Obsessed Or Be Average, by Grant Cardone Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight. If you would like to listen to more medtech episodes, check out our conversations with Lea Von Bidder, Michael Friedrich, Katja Berlinger, Sophia Borowka and Dorina Thiess. Don't forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there's no excuse for missing out on liveshows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!
November 25, 2020
EP #109 - Anaïs Matthey-Junod: Empowering People Through Entrepreneurship
Timestamps: 1:22 - Starting a student project 8:32 - The team behind sun'n'go 16:15 - Tips for making remote teams work 17:34 - Advice for future entrepreneurs 22:07 - The French-speaking Swiss startup scene About Anaïs and Sun'n'go Anaïs Matthey-Junod obtained a BA in Environmental Science and Engineering and an MA in Energy Management and Sustainability from the EPFL. In the last year of her masters, the idea for sun'n'go was born, after a trip to India with EPFL in 2019. In the following months, they developed their idea further, creating a portable energy center which can be used in impoverished communities to light up the community's households and charge phones. These energy centers are sold through micro credit schemes. Running entirely on solar power, they are a green catalyst for economic development. In December 2020 Anaïs and her co-workers will be finalizing their prototype. In parallel, they are preparing to conduct their first field study in Malawi, as well as a pilot project in the first half of 2021. Anaïs Matthey-Junod is currently also a research assistant at the EssentialTech Centre, and has just joined the NORCAP Accelerator Program at NRC.
November 22, 2020
EP #108 - Caspar Coppetti: Going Up Against Nike And Adidas
Timestamps: 2:30 - Meeting future co-founders 9:19 - Deciding to go up against Nike and Adidas 21:35 - Finding a business partner 47:14 - Dealing with competition 49:47 - Investors Biography: Caspar Coppetti is co-founder of On, one of the world’s fastest growing sports brands. Caspar started On together with his two co-founders Olivier Bernhard and David Allemann in 2010 based on their patented CloudTec® technology. On shoes have famously been worn by  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and of course, their brand ambassador, tennis star Roger Federer. Over the last 10 years, the company has expanded to over 55 countries and has become one of the top 5 leading running shoe brands in the DACH area and in the US. Now On is expanding into the trekking shoe market, launching their extremely lightweight Cloudrock trekking shoe in 2019.
November 18, 2020
EP #107 - Jeremias Meier: Optimize Sales, Jumpstart Growth
Timestamps: 10:22 - Understanding your clients (needle question) 14:55 - Getting your customers to use your product more often 17:00 - Achieving negative churns, incentivizing referrals 24:51 - The best lifetime value vs customer acquisition costs ratio 36:53 - When to pull the plug on a certain channel The Episode in 60 Seconds How to find, optimize and scale your sales funnel from early stage to exit. The early mistakes to avoid - Sell like the incumbent: just because one sales funnel is working well for incumbents in your field doesn’t mean it will work for you. Especially if your unit economics are different (think for example on-premise software vs SaaS). - Ignoring the unit economics: especially if you are entering the market with a new kind of business model, it’s very important to know your unit economics in order to understand if you are selling your product in a margin enhancing way or if every sale you achieve actually incurs a net loss. - Only focusing on closing the deal: your long term goal will be to achieve negative churn (gaining more customers than you lose in a certain interval). This will not happen if your product does not delight customers across the entire lifecycle. On data and experiments - Data is your best friend when it comes to finding your most effective sales funnel. Don’t allow your organization to go astray on hunches and gut feelings. - Becoming a data driven organization starts with the mindset and the mindset starts with the people you hire. - Run experiments, and run them often. There is no way you’ll know from the start which funnels will work for you, so testing (and failing) is the only way to find out. - To run a meaningful experiment you need two things: a quantifiable definition of success (and therefore failure) and a significant sample size. Leave either one out and the experiment will not deliver its value. Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Acquisition Cost - A good way to measure success of your sales funnel is the ratio between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (LVT). So what you spend to acquire a new customer and what they in turn spend on your product during all the time they are your customer. - There are a variety of ways how to calculate these two numbers. Whichever you choose, make sure it is comparable to benchmarks in your industry. - A good ratio of LTV/CAC is 3-4. If you are higher, you are not spending enough on marketing / growth. If you are lower, you either have a lifetime value problem or you are not spending your marketing /  sales budget effectively. Scaling and optimizing your sales funnel - Don’t forget that once your sales funnel works and you have an acceptable and proven LTV/CAC ratio, this will help you get money from investors, because you can say: for X amount of money in, we’ll very likely get Y amount of revenue out. That’s a pretty safe bet. - If you are scaling one of your sales funnel rapidly (especially online), most likely prices will increase because of the higher demand. Therefore it’s important to continuously optimize. Optimization is never done. - Over time, a funnel may change and become less valuable to you. It’s time to pull the plug when you see the quality of customers you are getting through that funnel decrease  (i.e. lower LTV).
November 11, 2020
EP #106 - Jeremias Meier: Spinning A Product Out Of A Service Business
Timestamps: 12:56 - Turning a company tool into a product 25:00 - Developing a brand with 25 other people 34:53 - Dealing with the complexity of a growing company 43:23 - Being laughed at by more traditional companies 56:38 - Finding work-life balance Biography: Jeremias Meier is the co-founder and managing director of Bexio, a company offering SaaS around payrolling, invoicing and accounting. Bexio was born out of Jeremias’ first business iBrowse, that he started while still at university. The team had built Bexio (called Easysys at the time) for their internal invoicing needs but found that a lot of agencies like themselves were interested in using the product. In 2014, they separated the product and agency business and spun out Bexio into an independent company. iBrowse was acquired by PwC in 2015 and transformed into a digital experience center.
November 4, 2020
EP #105 - Mark Essam: Is Vertical Farming The Future?
Timestamps: 5:11 - Getting fired 18:42 - The business model behind vertical farming 22:19 - Having to change your founding team 32:40 - Having an employee steal data from you 37:17 - The ETH Entrepreneur Club Biography Mark Essam is the co-founder of YASAI, a vertical farming startup and ETH spin-off. The idea to pursue vertical farming originated from the book  "The Vertical Farm: How to feed the world in the 21st century" by Dr. Dickson Despommier, which Mark read during his exchange semester in Mexico City in 2016. He subsequently wrote his thesis at ETH Zurich on the following topic: "How to integrate Vertical Farming within the Swiss landscape?". The building material manufacturer, LafargeHolcim supported an initial feasibility study of the hypothesis brought forward in the thesis and allowed YASAI to grow. In October 2020, YASAI secured a collaboration with fenaco for a industrial-scale vertical farming pilot project in Zurich through a joint investment of CHF 1.5 m.
October 28, 2020
EP #104 - Lukas Stuber: Q&A - Data Driven Marketing In 2020
Timestamps: 3:54 - Most relevant digital marketing channels 13:50 - How do you know you're on the right track? 19:33 - Talking budget 31:15 - When should you switch to an offline marketing channel? 38:41 - Best tool setup Biography: Lukas Stuber is the Managing Director of Dept, a digital agency. Previously, he had founded Yourposition, a digital marketing agency specialized in search engine optimization, which was acquired  by Dept in 2018. In 2004, Lukas published the book “Suchmaschinen Marketing” (search engine marketing) and became known as one of the pioneers of this field in Switzerland. He also serves as a lecturer on the topic at several Swiss universities such as University of St. Gallen and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
October 21, 2020
EP #103 - Doris Albisser: Roadmap To The Asian Startup Market
Timestamps: 8:03 - When to expand to Asia 17:54 - Knowing how to change your mentality 19:21 - Will English take you far? 28:26 - What can Europe learn from Asia? 30:25 - What can Asia learn from Europe? The Episode in 60 seconds Why expand your business to Asia - Asian markets are growing rapidly, with a strong increase in purchasing power. - Asia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has long caught up with the US and is almost unparalleled in its agility and speed. Preparing to expand your business to Asia - Make sure you get a very good understanding of the cultural differences, especially with regards to contract negotiations. - Ensure that your war chest is large enough. Like everything, the expansion will take you twice as long and cost you twice as much as anticipated. - Swiss Global Enterprise offers a market checkup to determine if you are ready to enter a particular market. Market entry - Out of all the Asian markets, Singapore is probably the most similar to Europe, so it’s usually a good place to start building your base. - Get in touch with the Swiss Embassies and Chamber of Commerce on the ground. They can introduce you to their network and put you in touch with experts in the region. - It’s advisable to have a legal entity in the market you are trying to enter, especially if you are a service business. - English will only get you so far in Asia. Outside of Hongkong and Singapore it may get tricky, so invest into an interpreter or find an employee which is well versed in both English and the local language. Corporate Governance and Regulations - It’s important to have a good mix of people from your team in Europe and locals from the region. This will help you relay your company values and corporate governance while also adapting to the local ways of doing things. - Especially in Mainland China, regulations are rapidly changing and violating them can have serious consequences. Get expert advice on how to navigate the regulations of your industry.
October 14, 2020
EP #102 - Doris Albisser: From Translator To Master Entrepreneur
Timestamps: 2:25 - Turning a translation company into a profit center 15:21 - Finding your core values 19:48 - Dealing with employees who don't fit your culture 25:13 - Going international 46:34 - Working with investors Biography: Doris Albisser is the founder and executive Chairwoman of Evaluglobe AG. Through Evaluglobe, she focuses on board mandates, growth investments and advising companies’ in their international expansion. Before starting Evaluglobe, Doris served as the Group CEO for CLS Communication AG for 16 years, developing CLS from a startup through a management buyout and internationalization, to a company with 600 employees and 5.000 freelancers in 10 countries across Europe, Asia and North America. Amongst others, Doris also served on the boards of Switzerland Global Enterprise, SOS Children’s Villages and the Psychiatric University Clinic of Zurich.
October 7, 2020
EP #101 - Nicholas Hänny: The Bootstrapped Way To Success
Timestamps: 0:55 - Common mistakes with bootstrapping 2:40 - What's the right channel for you? 12:43 - Offline vs online ads 17:12 - Green Friday sale 24:13 - Scaling your social media presence The Episode in 60 Seconds: Bootstrapping your marketing from scratch The first commandment of bootstrapping: do it yourself. Don’t pay agencies or lawyers for things you can do yourself or copy paste from templates. Don’t start with branding, start with the performance marketing of your product. This way, you’ll earn back your ad spend immediately (if you do it well). Use cheap CPM media (cost per 1 million clicks) such as Pinterest or snapchat for brand awareness. Facebook and Instagram for retargeting. A lot of world class knowledge about social media marketing is freely available on the Internet. Use it! Experimenting and tracking success Experiment with a broad variety of channels to find out what works. Be sure you understand the basics of how the platform’s algorithm works, so you are able to interpret your data  (e.g. how long does the algorithm take to learn, i.e. how long until it produces significant results). Run experiments over 1-4 weeks. External events such as the weather or other events can significantly influence the performance and skew your data. Branding ads should have at least a return of 1x, performance ads a return of 2x or higher. This means, with every $ spent, you earn 2 $ in purchases or customer value. Watch the CTR (click through rate), engagement and ROAS (return on ad spend) to gauge how effective your campaigns are. Tracking offline marketing Usually a billboard alone won’t cut it. Combine off- and online marketing to build strong brand awareness. Use custom links or discount codes in order to track your offline marketing. Finding your target audience Google analytics or Facebook audience are great tools to help you with this. You can create “look alikes” based on your Facebook pixel. Be sure to integrate it on your website early, so it can collect data. Look into the other Facebook pages that your audience likes and build your targeting based on them. Scaling your social media marketing If an ad performs well DON’T just double the ad spend. This will throw off the algorithm and it will start learning from scratch again (and you’ll pay again for the learning). Instead, increase your spend slowly or duplicate your campaign and launch a second one with the same spend, to immediately duplicate your spend. Don’t go too broad. When expanding, do so in narrowly targeted locations to help build word-of-mouth.
September 30, 2020
EP #100 - Alfred Escher: Wie Ein Unternehmer Die Schweiz Für Immer Veränderte (Ein Gespräch Mit Joseph Jung)
Timestamps:  6:01  - Wie die Eisenbahnfrage die Schweiz für immer verändert hat  30:53 - Wer ist Alfred Escher als Mensch?  48:03 - Wie Escher mit Verlust klargekommen ist  59:42 - Umgang mit Krankheit  1:24:48 - Hat Alfred Escher ein tragisches Ende gefunden?  Biographies:  Joseph Jung  Joseph Jung is a historian, consultant and the author of one of the most influential biographies of Swiss entrepreneur Alfred Escher as well as “Laboratorium des Fortschritts - die Schweiz im 19. Jahrhundert”. Joseph studied Swiss history, modern general history, history of law and German language and literature at the University of Fribourg, where he received his doctorate in 1987. In 1998 he habilitated at the ETH Zurich and was a private lecturer there until 2006. In addition to his scientific activities, Jung was Managing Director and Head of Research at the Alfred Escher Foundation (2006 to 2016).  Alfred Escher  Alfred Escher (1819-1882) is considered one of Switzerland’s most influential early entrepreneurs. Among his “ventures” are the ETH Zurich, Credit Suisse, the Gotthard railways and Swiss Life. He was also a prominent political figure of his time. He served as National Councilor (Bundesrat) for 34 years and was elected National Council President (Bundesratspräsident) four times during this period.
September 23, 2020
EP #99 - Nicholas Hänny: Swiss Sustainable Fashion
Timestamps: 5:40 - Why go through college? 10:08 - Going from idea to execution 21:15 - Building a startup part-time 35:33 - Building a community behind a brand 48:54 - Turning investors down Biography: Nicholas Hänny is the co-founder and CEO of Nikin, a sustainable fashion startup. Nicholas started Nikin in 2016 together with his childhood friend Robin Gnehm. Within only 4 years, the startup grew to 30 employees and CHF 7.2 m revenue. In 2019, Nicholas received the “Aargauer of the Year Award” as recognition for his work with Nikin. Nicholas has a background in marketing and business administration. He holds a Master of Arts in Business Innovation from the University of St. Gallen and was part of the CEMS program.
September 16, 2020
EP #98 - Phil Lojacono: Q&A - The Peace And War-time CEO
Timestamps: 4:00 - Hiring the best people 23:28 - The management team 28:02 - Dealing with investors 41:04 - Being Chief Culture Officer 45:04 - Are great CEOs born or made? Biography: Phil Lojacono is the co-founder and CEO of Advanon, one of Switzerland’s formerly fastest growing fintech startups. Advanon offers a platform for SMEs to bidge long payment terms by providing them with liquidity through financial investors. Phil started Advanon in 2015, shortly after his internship at Google, where he also met his co-founders. In January 2017, the company closed a financing round of CHF 13,5 m with investors such as Daniel Gutenberg, Partners-Group co-founder Urs Wietlisbach, Eric Sarasin und Moneypark founder Stefan Heitmann. In 2018, Advanon was confronted with a significant fraud case on its platform. Under Phil as their CEO, Advanon recovered, and in 2020 successfully sold to CreditGate 24. Phil has now started his own blog where he reflects on the learnings of his tumultuous 5 years at Advanon.
September 9, 2020
EP #97 - Dorina Thiess: Founders In Love
Timestamps: 0:58 - Starting a company with your significant other 2:08 - How to evaluate the potential of a founding team 7:55 - Added pressure to your relationship 17:10 - Splitting roles 21:14 - Challenging situations The episode in 60 seconds: Starting a business with your significant other can be a rewarding experience. In this episode, Dorina shared her insights about how to make it work. Rules and communication -  Starting your business is a 24/7 endeavor and it can become overbearing if you also spend your free time with your business partner. Set clear rules about when you plan to take breaks from work. -  Set more rules than you think are necessary because you’ll likely underestimate the temptation of wanting to talk about your business on your date night out. -  Be realistic about the chances to succeed with your business and don’t make your relationship dependent on business success. How to know if your partner would make a great co-founder -  As with all co-founding relationships, complementary skill sets are crucial. -  Working together on smaller projects (like building an IKEA shelf) is probably a good indicator on whether you function well in a business context or not. Advantages of starting a business with your partner -  Studies show that family businesses on average are more sustainable than other businesses although with lower growth rates. -  Being able to share the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship with your partner can be very valuable and rewarding. -  In tough times, you won’t have to put on a brave face for your partner because they’ll know what’s going on.
September 2, 2020
EP #96 - Dorina Thiess: From Grad School To The Startup World
Timestamps: 1:27 - Becoming an entrepreneur after an impressive student CV 8:48 - Discovering the vet market 19:47 - Convincing investors about your hardware tech 25:45 - Winning American clients remotely 31:19 - The trickiness of raising Swiss funds Biography Dr. Dorina Thiess is the CEO and co-founder of Piavita AG, a medtech startup that develops and distributes digital veterinary diagnostic systems. Previously, Dorina worked for the innovation team at BHS in Munich and in the US while completing her doctorate in entrepreneurship at the University of St. Gallen, where she also served as the Managing Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship. She started Piavita in 2016 together with her partner Sascha Bührle. Within three years Piavita has grown to over 30 employees and has obtained financing from renowned investors, among them Fyrefly Venture Partners and Investire.
August 26, 2020
EP #95 - Fabrice Aeberhard: Building Brands That Last
Timestamps: 0:55 - Branding mistakes Swiss startups make repeatedly 5:56 - Building a brand as a group 10:02 - Steps to creating a strong brand 15:03 - Target client vs your personal startup story 20:14 - Rapid fire questions The Episode in 60 Seconds: Getting inspired for your brand - Building a recognizable brand is like building a character - it can come with its own edges and quirks. - Your brand is probably not the first thing you need to worry about but if you move beyond the proof of concept phase, you should invest some time into it. - Get your inspiration from the how, what and why of your company. - Looking around for inspiration is good but your brand needs to be unique and recognizable, so don’t just copy paste from someone else Getting real with your brand - Getting the branding right is important - and hard. If you can, work with specialists in your surroundings - friends, board members, investors... - Your brand follows your purpose and mission, so make sure to have that defined first. - Your brand is not just your logo and color palette. Take a holistic approach and include everything from the language you use to how you present yourself in pictures (and of course make sure those pictures are high quality). 5 steps to your first brand set up - Choose a short, simple name. - Add some simple and concise messaging (a claim). - Define your core audience and how you’ll address them with visual, spoken and written language. - Connect the dots between the three first steps. - If you can, work with a specialist in the field to fine tune your branding work.
August 19, 2020
EP #94 - Peter Käser: Disrupting Swiss E-commerce
Timestamps: 2:57 - Splitting roles between 5 co-founders 10:05 - Testing the market 19:24 - Having net promoter score as your main KPI 25:40 - Disrupting the market and facing opponents 35:31 - Starting to hire people full-time Biography: Peter Käser is the Founder and COO of VIU Ventures AG, a Swiss eyewear brand. He started VIU in 2013, together with his co-founder Kilian Wagner, both of them bespectacled. VIU was originally conceived as an online-only store, integrating the entire eyewear supply chain and therefore offering higher quality at a lower price. But the founders soon realized that their customers like to physically try on their glasses before buying them. Today VIU has over 50 physical stores in 6 countries and several hundred employees. Peter holds a Masters in Banking and Finance from the University of St. Gallen (HSG).
August 12, 2020
EP #93 - Renato Stalder: Q&A - Finance in Switzerland 101
Timestamps: 1:48 - What can I do on my own and where do I need professional finance advice? 2:55 - What are the best tools to manage your finances? 5:00 - What's the best business credit card out there? 7:20 - Can I use my Swiss bank account to accept international payments? 8:56 - Managing international payments 10:51 - How does the Swiss tax system work? 17:51 - Is Switzerland really tax heaven? 20:52 - Optimizing tax return 22:22 - Do freelancers pay less taxes? 25:24 - Personal finance advice for entrepreneurs 27:36 - Can I get a mortgage without being a Swiss citizen? Biography: Renato Stalder is the Founder and CEO of Klara Business  AG, an accounting and administration software provider for SMEs. Previously, Renato rose through the ranks to become CEO at Soreco, where he served for 12 years. Afterwards, he held the CEO position at Axon Ivy, a digital platform provider which is part of the Axon Group. Renato holds an MBA in International Management from Fachhochschule Nordostschweiz.
August 5, 2020
EP #92 - Yaël Meier: Selling To Gen Z
Timestamps: 2:11 - What mistakes do Swiss companies make when it comes to Gen Z? 6:19 - Aligning company goals with Gen Z's activist streak 19:13 - Leading people older than you 22:44 - Which social media platforms are currently relevant? 31:00 - How to sell to Gen Z The Episode In 60 Seconds: What is Generation Z? Young people born between 1995 - 2010, NOT Millennials. How to win Generation Z as customers - Do not simply base your assumptions on conversations with your kids. - Talk TO members of Generation Z instead of only ABOUT them. - Your brand image is important - Remember, members of Generation Z are activists. How to win Generation  Z as employees and retain them - A compelling company vision will be more important than high salaries. - A clear path for growth within the organization. - Meaningful and mission-driven work. - Responsibility and appreciation. What’s the deal with TikTok? - Fast growing social media platform with over 2bn downloads (July 2020). - Very young audience. - Still high virality potential. - Now is the time to get started with your company account.
July 29, 2020
EP #91 - Yaël Meier: Actress, Journalist, Entrepreneur
Timestamps: 1:13 - Becoming an actress at 14 11:40 - Not going to university 14:45 - Launching your own project 15:40 - Sneaking into fashion shows 27:57 - Starting a company with your romantic partner Biography: Yaël Meier is an actress, journalist and the co-founder of Zeam, an agency helping companies leverage Generation Z. At the age of 14, Yaël held her first movie role in the Swiss Drama “Upload”. She later on also featured in movies such as «Die fruchtbaren Jahre sind vorbei» and «Blue my Mind». As a journalist, she worked for SRF, Ringier and Weltwoche in various roles. In January of 2020, she started Zeam together with her co-founder Jo Dietrich.
July 22, 2020
EP #90 - Startup Of The Week: Relai
Timestamps: 1:07 - Bitcoin and entrepreneurship 8:57 - Biggest milestones so far 15:53 - Having a hard time with fundraising About Julian and Relai: Julian Liniger is the co-founder and CEO of Relai, a startup aiming to empower everyone to invest in Bitcoin. Julian was an early crypto currency aficionado and the go-to person for his friends for anything crypto-related. This made him realize that there was no easy way for the “average Joe” to purchase Bitcoin - and that’s how Relai was born. He and his co-founder, Adem Bilican, went from 0 lines of code in April to launching the first version of their app on July 1st of this year. Relai is looking to raise CHF 200k in order to scale their product and make it more user friendly.
July 19, 2020
EP #89 - Verena Kaiser: Q&A On Fundraising Essentials
Timestamps: 2:05 - What's the difference between fundraising for growth vs seed financing? 10:01 - How to find the right investors 17:31 - Negotiating with investors 21:28 - What kills a fundraising process? 27:54 - How much money should you raise? Biography: Verena Kaiser served as the Head of Direct Investment at UBS before becoming Chief of Staff, Corporate & Institutional Clients International in May 2020. As Head of Direct Investment, she was responsible for due diligence and matching of growth stage startups with UBS private investors. The UBS Direct Investment arm has already provided over CHF 120m in capital, among them VIU Ventures AG, Coatmaster AG and Cutiss AG.
July 15, 2020
EP #88 - Startup Of The Week: Christian Fehr
Timestamps: 1:03 - Starting a marine tech startup 6:01 - Is the Swiss marine tech market big enough for Clickahoy? 7:55 - Competing with Americans About Christian and clickahoy: Christian Fehr is the CEO and co-founder of clickahoy, a Swiss marine-tech startup. The founding team behind clickahoy is the same as for, the boat sharing platform launched in 2016. The founders saw a personal need to make owning a boat “smart” the way owning a car or a house can be. The company is currently looking to raise CHF 400k to increase the number of connected boats 10x and expand outside of Switzerland within the next 18 months.
July 12, 2020
EP #87 - Dennis Just: Bootstrapping Your Company To Scale
Timestamps: 0:45 - What mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to bootstrapping? 14:20 - Boostrapping and growing fast 17:43 - Constant AB testing 25:48 - Building a solid user base 32:45 - Organic traffic & relying on Google The Episode in 60 seconds: Considerations when deciding whether to bootstrap: Bootstrapping is a long term project which needs time and dedication. Once you decide to get on the VC train, you can’t go back. External funding rounds also mean valuation rounds, which you have to keep driving up. A downround can be detrimental. If you cannot get a top tier international investor, it may not be worth the trouble. Bootstrapping a user base: Brand: building trust and recognition is a long term game that will pay off. SEO / organic search: quality content and a product that truly meets the user needs will go a long way. Of course, this makes you dependent on the search engine algorithm. Community: know your target audience and build a community around your product. Running experiments: Once you have a user base, experiment everything and optimize whatever you can. Always test on a subset of users to minimize overall impact of negative test results. Monitor all KPIs, not just conversion (e.g. customer retention, customer lifetime value, satisfaction, etc.).
July 8, 2020
EP #86 - Startup Of The Week: Logmind
Timestamps: 7:16 - Competition 8:51 - Should you get a patent? 11:24 - What should you fundraise for? About Ketevani and Logmind: Ketevani Zaridze is the CEO and Founder of Logmind, an AI-accelerated log data analytics platform. Originally from Georgia, she got her Masters in Computer Science from EPFL in Switzerland. After gaining work experience at Xerox, Open Systems and Cern, she started Logmind in 2018. Recently the company signed their first enterprise customer. They are now looking to raise CHF 1.3m in their seed round in order to grow to CHF 1.5m in recurring annual revenue within the next 2 years.
July 5, 2020
EP #85 - Dennis Just: Starting 4 Companies Before Turning 30
Timestamps: 1:23 - Studying economics and engineering 10:16 - Starting a company at 16 19:09 - Why move from the startup world to corporate? 52:52 - Jumping around from company to company 1:10:13 - Burnout and company responsibility Biography Dennis Just is the CEO of smallPDF, a SaaS company which offers all-in-one easy-to-use online PDF tools such as merging, editing and signing. Dennis is a serial entrepreneur, having started his first company,, while still in high school. During his university years, he started, a translation service, but stopped the venture after 2 years because it was too early for the market. He went on to be Head of Product at DeinDeal and subsequently started Numbrs and Knip  (now Digital Insurance Group), two successful fin/insurtech companies.
July 1, 2020
EP #84 - Startup Of The Week: Turicode
Timestamps: 0:48 - Why start your own company? 10:35 - What are they fundraising for? 11:55 - Tackling sales About Martin and Turicode: Martin Keller is the co-founder and CEO of turicode, a machine learning based document extraction solution. The company bootstrapped to CHF 1m in revenue. Their technology, MINT.extract, works to extract information from any type of document, supporting their customers along the entirety of their business processes. They are looking to raise CHF 2m to diversify the skillset in their team and also to scale internationally.
June 28, 2020
EP #83 - Reto Lämmler: Q&A On Pricing Tips And Tricks
Timestamps: 2:05 - Why do startups need a pricing strategy? 7:55 - Recurring revenue vs One-time fees 18:40 - How the buyer persona influences pricing 32:28 - Maximizing revenue 37:41 - Are discounts a good idea? Biography Reto Lämmler is the CEO and co-founder of Testing Time, a recruiting  platform for usability test users. Some of Reto’s previous ventures include:  Xellery, a cloud-based collaboration service for Microsoft Excel, which was sold to and RememberTheName, an app for learning names in your address book. At, Reto gained international startup experience as VP Product Management. He holds an MAS in Interaction Design and a BSc in Computer Science.
June 24, 2020
EP #82 - Startup Of The Week: Caressoma
Timestamps: 2:15 - What problem does Caressoma fix? 5:44 - Who uses Caressoma? 8:37 - What milestones has Caressoma recently achieved? About Sophia and Caressoma: Sophia Borowka is the CEO and co-founder of Caressoma, a startup providing ultrasound diagnostics for monitoring soft tissue injuries. Sophia is a physicist by training and has spent several years as CERN Fellow in Geneva. Together with her two co-founders, Jana Maes, an experienced Osteopathy practitioner and Jinesh Kallunkathariyil, a physicist and R&D expert, they have already raised 270k CHF from investors. Now looking to raise an additional 800k CHF to bring the product to market as a non-medical device for training optimization for athletes.
June 21, 2020
EP #81 - David Alain Bloch: The Champions Of Legal AI
Timestamps: 4:34 - Where David met his co-founders 10:28 - How to sell to lawyers 15:41 - Does Legartis have competition? 16:35 - Finding the right talent 19:29- Why create a second office in Lisbon? Biography David Bloch is the CEO and co-founder of Legartis, a legal tech company which uses AI to help businesses with their legal needs. David is an Attorney at Law admitted at the Zurich bar. He was a member of the “Global Shapers”, a World Economic Forum (WEF) community network of highly motivated individuals who have a great potential for future leadership roles in society. David also co-founded Foraus, a Swiss think tank on foreign policy.
June 17, 2020
EP #80 - Startup Of The Week: UNISERS
Timestamps: 2:32 - What problem does UNISERS solve? 8:01 - What milestones has UNISERS reached so far? 9:25 - Does UNISERS have competitors? About Fabian and UNISERS Fabian Walter is the co-founder and CTO of UNISERS, an ETH spinoff specialized in automated analysis equipment for high-purity liquids used in semiconductor production. UNISERS emerged out of the ETH pioneer fellowship in 2017. The company holds a patent for their technology and is currently looking to raise $ 1.2 m to expand their marketing activities at several high profile events and to bring their MVP solution to the market.
June 14, 2020
EP #79 - Manuel Hartmann: Q&A On B2B Sales
Timestamps: 2:06 - Why are sales so important? 5:20 - When should you start having your own sales team? 6:25 - What are the different stages of the B2B process? 7:42 - How do you find the right target client? 8:29 - Should you focus on one industry only? 11:52 - How to qualify leads 14:03 - Testing sales channels 18:19 - Speed up the selling process 24:19 - How to keep in touch with customers 27:21 - How to follow up 28:27 - Do awards and news pieces help you close sales? 29:35 - What are the most important KPIs for B2B sales 31:50 - Other tools to use for sales 35:56 - Closing deals remotely 40:41 - How to create value before closing a sale 41:28 - Where I can find good templates? Biography Manuel Hartmann is the Founder of SalesPlaybook, a Swiss sales accelerator for B2B startups. Before starting the SalesPlaybook, Manuel was part of Onedot, where he increased sales by 260% over 2 years. He holds a Masters of Business Innovation from University of St. Gallen and spent three years as a consultant at Accenture.
June 10, 2020
EP #78 - Startup Of The Week: What To Label
Timestamps: 4:00 - What milestones has What To Label achieved? 4:47 - Internationalization 8:11 - Toughest challenges to overcome About Igor and What To Label Igor Susmelj is the co-founder of WhatToLabel, a Data Preparation Platform for Machine Learning. Together with his co-founder, Matthias Heller, they bring together the best of the tech and business world. WhatToLabel is both a HSG and an ETH spinoff. Currently, they are looking for funding to take them to the next milestone - 100k in recurring revenue from their international client base.
June 7, 2020
EP #77 - Lars Mangelsdorf: Getting Swiss Sales Right
Timestamps: 1:43 - What common mistakes do Swiss companies make in the B2B sales area? 10:14 - How to get the contact details of future customers 18:49 - Is there such a thing as too many follow-ups with clients? 26:21 - Selling something before it even exists 37:06 - The best sales team set-up The Episode in 60 seconds The ABC of B2B sales First Contact - Consider a mix of standardized outreach via cold emails and personalized strategies via phone or more creative means (ever thought about sending your prospects a shoe?) - Don’t pitch your product upon first contact. Ask questions about your customer’s pain points and wishes. Demo - Don’t just demo all your features. Know what will create value for this specific customer. - If possible, demo on-site to establish a more personal relationship. - Even if you can’t convince the customer, ask for a referral to someone else in the industry. Tools to help you close - Hubspot - LinkedIn Sales Navigator - Hunter - Soap Box - Outreach Documents you need - Data security whitepaper - 1-pager of your product - Testimonials of happy customers, if possible KPIs of your sales team - Accounts Receivable vs target - Conversion rates after first meeting. 30% would be desirable - Diversified leads: ⅓ big accounts, ⅔ small / medium accounts
June 3, 2020
EP #76 - Startup Of The Week: Realbot Engineering
Timestamps: 1:41 - Why start your own company? 6:35 - Winning over clients 15:48 - An young entrepreneur's summer jobs About Alex and Realbot Engineering Alex Tyropolis is a co-founder and CEO at Realbot Engineering, a startup offering robot technology for remote viewing of real estate. He co-founded the company after years of experience in the real estate industry as an analyst for Engel & Völkers. After only 2 years of bootstrapping, the company already has a working product on the market and has conducted 4145 remote viewings for clients such as wincasa and livit.
May 31, 2020
EP #75 - Melanie Gabriel: From Startup Employee To Startup Founder
Timestamps: 2:37 - Why Melanie decided to start her own company 9:08 - Big founding teams 17:41 - Closing a big financing round just before covid-19 26:34 - How to hire the right people 30:46 - Ensuring good communication in a growing team Biography Melanie Gabriel is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Yokoy, a SaaS company which leverages Artificial Intelligence to fully automate all expense- and company credit card processes. Before starting Yokoy, Melanie joined Dizmo as Marketing Manager and worked her way up to Head of Marketing. She is a board member of WE SHAPE TECH and holds a degree in Business Management from the University of St. Gallen (HSG).
May 27, 2020
EP #74 - Startup Of The Week: onCyt
Timestamps: 3:16 - What problem does onCyt solve? 11:50 - Possible competitors for onCyt 20:44 - Fundraising horizon About Michael and onCyt OnCyt, a startup offering microbial monitoring, emerged from Michael Besmer’s PhD at ETH Zurich. He assembled a team of co-founders from a diversity of backgrounds including engineering and business development. After 3 years, the team is already looking back on 20+ successful projects and over 800k CHF in revenue.
May 24, 2020
EP #73 - Katja Berlinger: Successful Boards of Directors
Timestamps: 1:47 - What do Swiss startups often get wrong with boards of directors? 6:00 - What different skills need to be present in a board of directors? 12:06 - How to best compensate your board 18:52 - How can a board help your startup achieve success? 23:05 - How should a startup collaborate with a board? The Episode In 60 Seconds Setting up your Board of Directors - the right way. The right composition Get diversity of perspectives and skills, be sure you cover at least: legal, finance and your industry Don’t go for titles, go for people with time and expertise 4 is considered a good number to start Founders on the board In small companies where they hold a large stake, this may be appropriate In large companies, operations and board roles have to be separated Compensation Consider paying a fixed compensation in cash or equity and a variable compensation based on time invested Where to find the right board members Choose people you know you can work with If you have smart money investors, they will probably be a good addition to the board How boards change when companies grow Small company boards may be more operational As companies grow, boards necessarily have to professionalize and become less operational Meeting and decision making Meetings at most once a month and at least once a quarter If possible, decisions should be unanimous or more time should be invested into discussions If a board member dissents, be sure to note it in writing
May 20, 2020
EP #72 - Startup of the Week: Helio
Timestamps: 1:36 - What motivated Kevin to start his own company? 7:50 - What milestones has Kevin's startup recently achieved? 11:29 - Tough challenges to overcome About Kevin and Helio Kevin Häfeli is the co-founder of Helio, a platform to connect demand and supply of computing power. He started Helio in 2018 together with Christoph Buchli. Previously, he worked as a DevOps engineer at Zatoo and Snowflake Productions and co-founded the e-commerce venture Brandeer Sports.
May 17, 2020
EP #71 - Katja Berlinger: How Passion Leads To Success
Timestamps: 2:00 - Going from journalism, to law, to business 13:22 - Being the youngest board member around 20:00 - Determining founding values 27:32 - Finding the balance between commitment and change 36:16 - Having a stay at home husband Biography Katja Berlinger is the CEO of Swiss Medi Kids and a professional board member. Katja started out as a journalist at the publication “Cash”. She quickly realized that she’d rather have an impact herself than write about people who do. Consequently, she turned to her law degree and became an associate at the law firm von der Crone, where she worked on the Swissair lawsuit. Once again, she concluded that this career path was not for her. She switched gears and joined a tech startup as their corporate sales manager. From there, she set herself up to become a professional board member and today holds more than 5 board member seats.
May 13, 2020
EP #70 - Beat Brechbühl & Michèle Remund: Legal Q&A Session
Timestamps: 2:17 - Where can startups get help during the corona crisis? 3:11 - What legal aspects do Swiss startups not pay enough attention to? 6:52 - Will copy pasting terms and conditions save me legal fees? 08:01 - How do I best deal with liability and risk? 09:05 - What should online shops address before going live? 11:10 - Can geographic names be used to name products? 17:53 - How will the corona crisis affect valuations? 20:25 - Founder-friendly ways of writing shareholder agreements 25:49 - Co-founders joining late in the game 27:16 - Employee stock option plans 31:50 - Why can't layers give straight answers? 35:34 - Finding the right legal partner 39:45 - How much should a good lawyer cost Biography Beat Brechbuehl Beat Brechbuehl is managing partner of Kellerhals Carrard and head of the M&A team. He holds a LL.M. degree of the Chicago Law School and worked with Sandoz / Novartis Nutrition. He works primarily in the area of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and joint ventures, venture capital and succession planning. He is a lecturer for entrepreneurship at the University of Berne and he has been acknowledged as one of the leading Swiss corporate lawyers by Legal500 and Chambers. Michèle Remund Michèle Remund has many years of experience in corporate and tax law and regularly assists clients in M&A transactions. She is also a member of Kellerhals Carrard’s Startup Desk and advises start-ups in particular in connection with employee shareholdings, financing rounds and various other issues.
May 6, 2020
EP #69 - Ariel Lüdi: Managing The Exit
Timestamps: 1:44 - What mistakes do Swiss founders repeatedly make, when it comes to exits? 11:55 - Coping with stress and pressure 21:50 - Always striving for the next level 32:18 - Knowing what your company is worth 40:32 - Achieving billion dollar exits The Episode In 60 Seconds Dream Big – Sell Big Swiss people have a tendency to sell themselves and their business short. Instead of going for the billion dollar deal, they settle for the first offer which comes their way. Dare to be great and know your true potential. Don’t crack under pressure One of the reasons founders sell their companies too early (and too cheaply) is because of the immense pressure they are under; from employees, family, VCs and, sometimes, from themselves. Know that VCs may not always have your best interest in mind and/or know the business like you do. Be truthful with your employees, especially in hard times. If you have invested in building a company culture, this will now pay off. Selling done right The bad news: you cannot plan an exit strategically. The good news: if you’re good at what you do, the opportunity will arise naturally. Make plans but be ready to abandon them if a better course of action presents itself. Money isn’t everything. It may be smart to accept a smaller offer if this means that your company’s vision will persist and your employees will have a “good home” even after the acquisition.
April 29, 2020
EP #68 - Ariel Lüdi: How To Sell a Company For 1.5bn $
Timestamps: 11:31 - Scaling from 0 to 150 million in revenue within 6 years 23:23 - Why not just enjoy a billionaire fortune? 35:08 - Closing an intercontinental gap 43:50 - Ariel's most surreally successful moment 52:34 - Being the "anti-venture capitalist" Biography Ariel Lüdi is a parachute stuntman turned millionaire. After dropping out of his physics degree at ETH Zurich, Ariel joined IBM as a developer. From there he joined Oracle, where he discovered his passion and talent for sales. After 8 very successful years as SVP of Sales at Broad Vision and Salesforce, he joined Hybris as CEO. He invested all his previous earnings into the company and even went into debt. In 2013, he sold Hybris to SAP for $ 1.5bn.
April 22, 2020
EP #67 - Tanja Lau: Q&A On Raising Kids And Growing A Startup
Timestamps: 2:05 - Managing a work-life balance 3:42 - Missing half of your own wedding 8:00 - Finding out what's really important 14:08 - Preparing for motherhood 18:19 - Finding a challenging part-time job 20:55 - Why not a corporate career? 29:57 - The role of Tanja's husband 32:43 - How to split parenting responsibilities 40:23 - Swiss women in leadership positions 46:05 - What does motherhood teach you about business? Biography Tanja Lau is an experienced entrepreneur and the founder of Product Academy, a coaching business for product managers. Previously she was Head of Product at Siroop, where she played a crucial role in scaling the company to over 200 employees. During this intense period of her life she found herself experiencing symptoms of burnout, even suffering a breakdown at her own wedding. With the goal of building a balanced yet challenging career for herself, she started Product Academy and is running it part time while raising her two young children.
April 15, 2020
EP #66 - Philipp Stauffer: Is Silicon Valley the Promised Land for Startups?
Timestamps: 1:52 - What mistakes do Swiss startups make when it comes to moving to Silicon Valley? 16:02 - When should you not go to the Valley? 29:56 - Hiring the right sales person 32:28 - Tackling the PR and marketing game 43:23 - What shocks Swiss companies when they come to the US? The Episode In 60 Seconds Competing with Silicon Valley Startups – what to expect Switzerland is generally strong in research and not so strong in productization and marketing. Be aware of this and give your amazing product the showlight it deserves. Cap tables (the “who owns what” in a company) are a big topic. SV investors don’t like to see large, fragmented cap tables. Be smart and don’t give away more than 20% of your company per round. SV is fast-paced and direct. Be prepared to adapt your style of doing business. Is Silicon Valley the promised land for all startups? The short answer is: no. The long answer is: it depends. Know where the experts in your field cluster. This can be Houston, New York, Chicago … Don’t underestimate the value which comes from a Swiss brand: neutrality, trust and reliability, to name a few. Building up your presence in the US Your expansion should be customer centric. Move to a new market when you feel you understand and are ready to serve the customer there. Expanding abroad usually entails building a physical presence there. Often this requires at least one of the founders to relocate in order to build a quality team away from home. Ideally, your first hires have existing customer relationships that you can leverage. Build the business first, fundraise second. This will give you much more negotiating power.
April 8, 2020
EP #65 - Philipp Stauffer: Greed For Good
Timestamps: 2:10 - Where does Philipp's entrepreneurial spirit come from? 15:31 - Getting an American green card during the 9/11 era 24:23 - When a mission-driven company fails 34:18 - The 1/1/1 program 48:40 - How can young people find their mission? Biography Philipp Stauffer is the co-founder of and Managing Partner at FYRFLY, an early stage technology venture firm. Amongst their former and current portfolio companies are Beekeeper, Philz Coffee and AngelList. Prior to becoming an Angel and early stage investor, Philipp co-founded his own ventures: Dropimpact, an innovation catalyst and early stage investment firm, and Onor, an impact digital marketing project. He moved to San Francisco in 2001, days after the 9/11 terror attacks. Philipp holds an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Microeconomics from the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich.
April 1, 2020
EP #64 - Daniel Sandmeier: The Financial Matchmaker
Timestamps: 2:13 - How does a corporate career give an entrepreneur the upper hand? 11:28 - The lender-borrower ratio 20:12 - Switching work flows 27:38 - Developing the user interface 28:29 - Plans for the future Biography Daniel Sandmeier is the CEO of Instimatch, a platform for digitizing money markets. Instimatch was named “Growth Startup Of The Year” at the Swiss Fintech Awards 2020. Before joining Instimatch, Daniel had spent 12 years at Credit Suisse and over 2 decades in banking over all. He holds a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Zurich.
March 25, 2020
EP #63 - Andreas Iten: When Startups and Corporates Team Up
Timestamps: 2:15 - Why does a large corporation decide to get involved with startups? 11:26 - What F10 brings to startups 23:15 - How can startups and corporates succeed together? 25:35 - How to convince opponents 33:40 - How else does Andreas help startups? Biography Andreas Iten is the co-founder of F10 FinTech Incubator & Accelerator and also the head at SIX FinTech Ventures. He has worked for over 15 years within leading institutions in the IT service, airline & transportation and the financial industry. Andreas holds a degree in Digital Innovation and Business Transformation from the University of St. Gallen.
March 18, 2020
EP #62 - Dorian Selz: Internationalization
Timestamps: 2:34 - What do Swiss startups get wrong, when it comes to internationalization? 14:11 - How to organize a team 19:32 - The role of fundraising in internationalization 30:55 - How to manage a successful partnership 40:15 - Risk assessment in Europe vs in the US The Episode In 60 Seconds Getting the timing right Rather than going and planting a flag abroad, consider letting your customers lead the way. Wherever you find a “big fish”, find an agreement to localize for them. Finding international customers Try to engage analysts such as Forrester and Gartner early on. This can be in an informal way, since formal engagements can cost you lots of money. Look for international technology partners such as Salesforce and the like. Attend conferences abroad to gain visibility. Organizational setup For technology products, marketing and sales are usually the areas which need localization, while engineering can stay centralized. A coherent reporting structure and rigorous documentation are vital to successfully move an international team forward. Successful international partnerships Partners are followers, not leaders. Even though you might have a partner in a certain market, you still need to lead the way for the first successful implementations. It’s a long term game. Try to become part of your partner’s daily routine to stay on the top of their mind. International fundraising International investors are desirable but not a requirement to expand abroad. Don’t underestimate the difficulties which come with operating in two different legal systems. Since you are missing the benefit of a shared culture, introductions to international investors through your network are even more important.
March 11, 2020
EP #61 - Dorian Selz: Getting to 50 million In Revenue Within 2 Years
Timestamps: 7:26 - How Dorian found the right team 23:48 - Going from 0 to 50 million in revenue within 2 years 29:58 - Why leave a hugely successful company? 40:14 - When's the right time to launch a certain product in the market? 47:05 - Starting an A.I. business Biography Dorian is the founder of, Switzerland’s leading local search platform which he grew to >$50M revenues in 4 years. Today he is co-founder and CEO, a personal digital research assistant. The company also offers, a web based digital notebook. Prior to launching, from 1999 to 2005 he was Partner and COO at Namics, an internet professional services firm. Dorian holds a PhD in information systems from the University of St.Gallen and a degree in econometrics from the University of Geneva.
March 4, 2020
EP #60 - Christian Burger: Q&A On Organizational Setup For Startups
Timestamps 2:45 - Do I need a co-founder? When is it absolutely essential to get one? 4:15 - How to get to the right organizational set-up 9:47 - What's a good vision for a company? 16:59 - How small is a lean startup? What are the advantages? 18:42 - How do I find the right people? 30:09 - Should you work with freelancers? Can you onboard them later on? 32:16 - Getting an inexpensive, rockstar team for you startup 33:55 - Should every employee get stock options? 36:28 - What role do team meetings play in the EOS system? 43:35 - What is the role of the visionary? 45:50 - How to prepare your organizational system for growth. 47:40 - Which admin tasks should you outsource? 50:16 - Do we need marketing experts? Biography Christian Burger is the founder and owner of Antarius Gmbh and one of Switzerland’s first licensed implementers of EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System). Christian advises the leadership teams of companies how to effectively set up their organization. He holds a degree in electrical engineering but focused a major part of his career on project management before starting his own company Nomasis in 2007, which focused on enterprise mobile device management, and later Antarius, a business consultancy, in 2010.
February 26, 2020
EP #59 - Manuel Grenacher: How To Grow Your B2B Business
Timestamps 2:10 - What mistakes do you see Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to growth and scale? 11:27 - How to manage distribution partners 17:28 - Marketing and customer service: can you handle it remotely? 22:30 - Challenges of scaling up 31:56 - What role does company culture play when it comes to scaling? The Episode In 60 Seconds Getting the basics right Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to build sales channels. Invest time into developing them at the same time as you are developing your product. Switzerland is too small. Go international fast. Be present where you want to build your network. Managing high growth sales channels Your partner has to make an upfront investment in order to be able to sell your product. They will only be willing to do this if they believe in your vision and see an opportunity to grow together with you. You should own the selling process and have your partners’ commissions tied to project delivery milestones. This will maximize their incentive to make the customer happy. To assure quality, you should own the certification process of everyone who sells your product Culture at scale Leadership is culture. Culture is what drives the company beyond the term of any single manager. At scale, culture has to become more explicit in order to keep everyone on board. Write down your values and talk about them often. The trust of your employees is your most valuable asset. Do not squander it by paying salaries late or otherwise breaking your word. Surviving the race to scale Growing a company is tough, there is no other way to say it. If you aren’t willing to put in the hours, it may not be the right business for you. Sleeping is vital. Learn how to sleep “effectively” by shutting off your thoughts and finding deep relaxation, at least for a few hours.
February 19, 2020
EP #58 - Manuel Grenacher: A Swiss Serial Entrepreneur
Timestamps: 2:24 - Going from founder to employee 17:36 - How doing an apprenticeship helped him with his startup 33:19 - Building an international brand 38:57 - Starting a spin off of his own company 47:42 - Manuel Grenacher's future plans Biography Manuel Grenacher is the founder and fmr. CEO of Coresystems, a cloud solution that helps companies to source and coordinate technicians for customer service. In 2017, Siemens decided to use Coresystems to digitize their global customer service technicians network. Subsequently, in 2018, Coresystems was bought by SAP, where Manuel is now General Manager for Cloud Service Solutions. Previously, Manuel had already successfully sold Mila, a spin-off of Coresystems to Swisscom in 2015.
February 12, 2020
EP #57 - Jutta Jertrum: How To Bootstrap
Timestamps 2:24 - Why choose bootstrapping? 16:10 - Time management 25:21 - How to frame your product 33:12 - Getting a product into stores 42:57 - Should you go for paid marketing? The Episode In 60 Seconds Thinking about bootstrapping? Jutta Jertrum has done it and here are some of the points to consider: Trade-offs Bootstrapping usually means higher independence in exchange for fast growth. It may take longer until you pay yourself a salary, since any money comes directly out of the company’s cash flow. Getting your partner on-board Starting a business can strain a relationship, particularly the financial aspects. Do not underestimate this and address it with your partner early on. In an ideal situation, a partner can provide the financial support to cover the monthly living expenses. This should however not be expected or taken for granted. Client acquisition Reference clients and authentic customer testimonials are some of the most powerful tools for client acquisition. If your offer is declined, always ask why. Don’t be afraid to try again. Awards and startup competitions are a great way to get the word out there, gain credibility and free PR.
February 5, 2020
EP #56 - Jutta Jertrum: The Eco-Friendly One Woman Show
Timestamps: 3:18 - Why did Jutta start her own business? 12:19 - How to choose the right company to work with 20:00 - Taking care of logistics 31:42 - Blacking out on live TV 39:10 - Did Jutta sign the contract with the sharks? Biography Jutta Jertum is the inventor and owner of Twist Out, an ecological drain cleaning device. Jutta was the General Manager at the Castle Rapperswil when she discovered that she could clean her clogged drains more ecologically and effectively using a wooden stick of a very specific shape. She then quit her job and patented the invention. In Switzerland, Jutta is best known for her appearance on the TV show “Höhle der Löwen”, where she was offered a deal which she ended up rejecting after the show.
January 29, 2020
EP #55 - Thomas Brändle: Financial Advice For Later Stage Startups
Timestamps: 2:15 - The early days of Run My Accounts 11:14 - The challenges of growing organically 26:21 - Early-stage financial tasks 40:11 - What accounting software should you use? 53:20 - How does pricing affect liquidity and cashflow? The Episode In 60 Seconds  Getting your finances right. In the beginning: There is no point waiting with signing up to VAT, if you go over the threshold of 150k revenue in a year, it is already too late and will be painful to catch up. You can, however, save yourself time and effort by doing your first year end closing after 23 months instead of 12. Check the regulation of the Canton where your company is registered. Invest some time and energy into the setup of your accounting system. Having to fix it later down the road is costly and time consuming. Choosing a fiduciary: Chose your fiduciary first and take the accounting software they recommend. Use a simple system in the beginning, without subledgers. If you switch systems, do it at the end of the financial year. Don’t import old data into the new system. Excel is not powerful enough. Liquidity planning: Cash is the oxygen of your company, so better know how much you got left until you run out. Be aware of the “hidden costs” of growth: on-boarding employees, finding additional workspace, setting up new tools and processes. Consider the impact of your payment terms on your liquidity. If you are ecommerce, the way you manage your stock will be significant for your liquidity. The smaller you keep it, the better.
January 22, 2020
EP #54 - Boris Räber & Alexander Eichhorn: Legal Advice For Later-Stage Startups
Timestamps 1:58 - From a legal aspect, what scaling mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly? 10:30 - Convertible loans or capital increase? 21:21 - How to handle non-compete clauses 33:10 - What startups should me more aware of 38:14 - Taxes for startups The Episode In 60 Seconds Just like your apartment, your company needs some basic housekeeping in order to avoid descending into chaos. Financing rounds It’s not advisable to negotiate your term sheet without a lawyer if you don’t have previous experience. Although they aren’t legally binding they set a strong precedent which is hard to negotiate your way out of. By the same token, don’t use the template of your investor. Be sure you understand the liquidation preferences you agree to If fundraising has to be fast and determining a price is difficult, consider a convertible loan Employment contracts Watch out for IP (intellectual property) rights, notice period and non-compete clause (limit 3 years) For employee incentivisation, you can decide between Share plan: more tax friendly for your employees, usually higher administrative burden for the company Phantom stocks: easier to administer but taxed as income Exit Exits usually take the form of either an M&A (Merger and Acquisition) or an IPO (Initial Public Offering) M&As come in 2 forms: Asset deal: meaning you sell all the companies assets, including employees to a new owner Share deal (more common): the acquiring party buys a majority of the shares and therefore takes control of the company. IPO: are still rare in Switzerland, mostly because they involve large costs (several $ millions) for preparing the so called “prospectus”, the document based on which the shares are offered on the stock exchange.
January 15, 2020
EP #53 - Carole Ackermann: Q&A on How To Win Business Angels Over As Investors
Timestamps 2:00 - Why aren't business angels just called "investors"? 5:17 - What's the best time to approach a business angel? 13:50 - How to convince a business angel to invest in an early-stage idea 16:36 - The relevance of a team 21:19 - What KPI does Carole use to assess a product's market? 26:21 - Education or experience? 31:32 - How much of business decisions is gut feeling and how much comes from thorough analysis? 35:59 - How to read a business angel's intentions 39:07 - How much money do business angels invest? 40:24 - What does the investment process look like? 42:51 - How to split legal costs 48:08 - How an angel evaluates a startup 50:17 - Convertible loans: yay or nay? 55:07 - What separates good from great founders? 56:18 - How does Carole keep herself up to date? Biography Carole Ackermann was the president of Business Angels Switzerland (BAS) Association from 2010 to 2018. In 2007, she founded Diamondscull AG, an investment and coaching firm based in Switzerland. Through BAS and Diamondscull as well as her mandates on multiple Boards of Directors, she has acted as a startup and executive coach for many years. Carole holds a PhD in Marketing from University of St. Gallen (HSG).
January 8, 2020
EP #52 - Marc P. Bernegger: Selling 2 Companies And Doing An IPO
Timestamps 1:33 - What mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to their exit? 13:44 - Keeping investors satisfied 22:50 - What founders get from an exit 30:57 - When should you sell your company? 33:28 - Requirements for trade sale exit The Episode In 60 Seconds Finding the right exit strategy for you and your company. Getting the basics right Look beyond Switzerland for potential buyers If you can, get help from specialized M&A boutiques Broaden your shareholder base to get easy access to new markets and industries Selecting the right partner and deal Institutional investors usually curtail the entrepreneurial freedom of the founder more strongly than non-institutional investors such as family offices. Aggressive growth often leads to the founders being left with very small stakes in the company once the time for an exit has arrived. Don’t select buyers based on valuation but based on their values aligning with yours. Don’t forget that most likely, you will still be obliged to work in your company for a few years after it has been acquired. The price of an acquisition is often split in a fixed part and a variable part, called earn-out, that gets paid out on defined targets and incentives over the duration of 1-5 years. Timing Depends on several factors: Can the company still realize significantly more growth in the future? Do you still have the passion and energy to drive the business forward? Exit options M&A (Merger and Acquisition): Selling of the companies assets or shares. For smaller companies with revenue generally above $ 10m. IPO (Initial Public Offering): Listing of the company on a public stock exchange. Usually not feasible for revenue below $ 200m.
January 1, 2020
EP#51 - Marc P. Bernegger: Meeting Mark Zuckerberg
Timestamps: 1:28 - Selling his first company at 28 years old 20:10 - Staying healthy while working 6 days/week 24:56 - How did Marc meet Mark Zuckerberg? 45:56 - The bitcoin crash of late 2018 49:11 - The future of blockchain technology Biography Marc P. Bernegger is the founder of, a nightlife platform, and Amiando, a ticketing system for events. Marc started in 1999 when he was 20 years old and sold it to Axel Springer in 2008. In 2006, he co-founded Amiando based out of Munich. Amiando was acquired by Xing in 2010. Since then, Marc has been active in the fintech space, as founder of the Crypto Finance Conference St. Moritz and of Crypto Finance AG and as a board member at Falcon Bank. Marc holds a Masters in Law from the University of Zurich.
December 25, 2019
EP #50 - Patrick Thevoz: How To Build A Global Company From Day One
Timestamps: 3:05 - How did a corporate background help Patrick with Flyability? 8:26 - Where is the drone industry headed? 21:06 - Maintaining good communication with testing groups 32:35 - When an investor questions him/herself on what could go wrong 38:08 - How to hire the right people to grow your company Biography Patrick Thevoz is Co-founder and CEO of Flyability, a company specialized in commercial indoor drones. During his time at Fyability, the company grew from 2 to over 60 employees and acquired over 300 customers. The company successfully raised $11 m in 2018 with Swisscom Ventures as one of the lead investors. Before founding Flyability, Patrick worked as a strategy consultant in the life sciences industries. Patrick holds an MSc in Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne (EPFL).
December 18, 2019
EP #49 - Monique Morrow: Why Trust Matters To Businesses Of All Sizes
Timestamps: 2:13 - Why leave a corporate job? 7:34 - How big players make money with your data 14:14 - When did the big breach in data protection happen? 18:58 - What is a responsible way to conduct oneself on social media? 22:52 - Are people aware of the seriousness of the situation? Biography Monique Morrow spent 16 years at Cisco, where she became the company’s first Services CTO and spearheaded Cisco’s transition to services as the core piece of their offerings portfolio. After leaving Cisco, she founded The Humanized Internet, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide persistent, secure, global digital identity to the world’s population. In 2019, she joined the newly established VETRI Foundation as the president of the board and has been shaping the organization’s path towards a blockchain based personal data management solution. Monique has several patents to her name, amongst them “Cloud Framework for Multi-Cloud Extension” and “Deep Learning Bias Detection in Text”.
December 11, 2019
EP #48 - Michael Friedrich: How To Successfully Handle Competition
Timestamps: 0:33 - What mistakes do Swiss founders repeatedly make when it comes to competition? 15:54 - How to succeed in a tough competitor situation 20:00 - Getting Switzerland on the American investor map 29:03 - Two types of customers 40:46 - Knowing when to get out The Episode In 60 Seconds Know your competitive landscape Keep in mind that most tech products compete on a global scale Take a holistic view: the same needs can be met with different approaches. They are still your competitors. Be aware when you are switching from up-start to incumbent and when it’s time to scan for acquisition targets yourself. Why companies acquire other companies To create synergies with, expand, improve, etc. their existing business. To protect their existing business from competition. The latter tends to be a stronger driver than the former. How to approach competitors Approach the CEO, even if it is a much larger company. Demonstrate how you will be a threat to their existing business. Be aware that your competitor may be facing internal resistance against an approach which was “not invented here”.
December 5, 2019
EP #47 - Michael Friedrich: How To Win As An Underdog
Timestamps: 1:52  - Should making an exit always be the goal in creating a startup? 12:00 - Entrepreneurship in the medical field 22:15 - Selling a second company for $12.5 million  31:36 - Do founders grow out of their role? 36:53 -  The power of a network Biography Michael Friedrich is the CEO of Distalmotion, a medical device company specialized in robots for minimally invasive surgery. Michael started his first venture as a 16-year-old teenager during high school. The company, Berne Byte Bears, focused on the early applications of the Internet, producing specialized software programs, websites and other web applications. Their most successful offering was an online product comparison site,, which was acquired by Comparis in 2002. Michael went on to study Microengineering at EPFL Lausanne. From there, he started Aïmago, a medtech venture focused on visualizing blood flow in real time. Aïmago was acquired by its competitor Novadaq for $12m in 2014. Nowadays, Michael is CEO (and early investor) of Lausanne-based Distalmotion, a spin-off of the EPFL that has set out to make robotic surgery more accessible and establish robotics as the new standard of care in the OR via its surgical robot called Dexter.
November 27, 2019
EP #46 - Cris Grossmann: Fundraising For Growth
Timestamps: 2:06  - What mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to funding for growth? 11:43 - How to find investors 24:06  - Turning down a $ 10 million investment offer 30:47 - How to go about evaluation 40:50 - When to start the fundraising process The Episode In 60 Seconds The four phases of fundraising. Phase 1: Preparation Start preparations either in early September or in January, as to not hit the VCs’ winter or summer break. Don’t waste your time talking to VCs which aren’t adequate for the round you are trying to raise anyway. Use personal introductions wherever you can. Phase 2: Pitching Do a first screening call to gauge the general fit of the VC for your business and round. The goal of your pitching is to get a term sheet, which equals an offer to invest from a VC. Phase 3: Negotiating Term Sheets Once you have (hopefully) collected a few term sheets, it’s time to evaluate and negotiate on the different offers. When choosing an investor, the cultural fit should not be underestimated. Don’t be afraid to get references on the VC from other ventures he/she has previously invested in. Don’t obsess too much over valuation. It is not an exact science. Phase 4: Due Diligence Once you have decided to go with an offer, the investor will perform his due diligence on your business to make sure your books are in order.
November 20, 2019
EP #45 - Cris Grossmann: Building the fastest growing startup in Switzerland
Timestamps: 2:40 - Running a business in Switzerland vs in Mexico 10:23 - The early days of Spocal 21:55 - Raising 50k 35:40 - Figuring out pricing 39:15 - When to scale up Biography Cristian Grossmann is the CEO and co-founder at Beekeeper, a software company which allows businesses to easily communicate with their non-desk workforce. Cristian was born in Mexico City, to a Mexican-Swiss family. He left Mexico as a teenager to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering at ETH Zurich and went on to complete his doctorate in Electrical Engineering. The path to Beekeeper began in 2011, when he and his co-founder Flavio started an anonymous dating app for university students called BlicKlick. BlicKlick became Spocal, a community platform for all types of interactions – not just flirting. The solution was picked up not only by university students but also by businesses trying to engage their workforce. In 2012, Swissôtel, a Swiss hotel chain, used the solution to manage communication with its non-desk workforce during a merger with two other global hotel chains. This was a breakthrough moment for Beekeper, which since then has been growing rapidly and just closed a $ 45 million series B round this year.
November 13, 2019
EP #44 - Emile de Rijk: Building A Business In Outer Space
Timestamps: 2:44 - The story behind the name "Swissto12" 7:50 - Identifying and solving problems 11:17 - Switching markets 21:00 - Convincing customers 27:04 - Emile's plans for the funds he raised. Biography Emile de Rijk is the co-founder and CEO of Swissto12, a high-tech company which specializes in the 3D printing of radio frequency products based on its own patented technology. The company’s technology originated from Emil’s PhD thesis at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), in Lausanne. After initially focusing on the production of scientific equipment, the company pivoted in 2014 and since then is mainly active in the market for antennas for satellite telecommunications. Swissto12 was awarded a contract by the European Space Agency in 2015 and raised a $ 18.5m series B round earlier this year with Swisscom Ventures as one of the lead investors.
November 6, 2019
EP #43 - Nicolas Bürer: Q&A on Accelerators & Incubators In Switzerland
Timestamps 2:07 - What's the difference between an accelerator and an incubator? 3:14 - Are accelerators and incubators worth it? 4:10 - When should you reach out to accelerators and incubators? 5:55 - Do certain business types have more of a chance with investors? 7:48 - What do accelerators and incubators deliver to you as a startup? 11:11 - Do accelerators and incubators even do anything? 13:04 - Which famous Swiss companies have been part of an accelerator or an incubator? 14:19 - Where to find incubators for young Swiss entrepreneurs? 17:00 - Why choose a Swiss incubator or accelerator? 18:43 - Is their a Y combinator equivalent in Switzerland? 25:21 - Do accelerator/incubator programs demand a full-time commitment? 28:00 - How do you know if the program has been successful? 29:23 - How many customers can you except to gain with a program like this? 31:01 - Should you aim for zero equity? Biography Nicolas Bürer is the Managing Director of DigitalSwitzerland, an initiative of over 150 Swiss corporate companies to strengthen Switzerland’s position as a leading innovation hub. Nicolas started his entrepreneurial career as Chief Marketing Officer at, which rose to be one of Switzerland’s most successful e-commerce sites within only 5 years. After DeinDeal, he transitioned to become Managing Director at the TV company Joiz, which had to close its doors in 2016. Nicolas is also one of the co-founders of Movu, a platform of moving and cleaning companies, which was acquired by Baloise in 2017. He holds a Masters in physics from the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and was awarded “Business Angel of the Year” in 2018.
October 30, 2019
EP #42 - Andreas Fischler: How To Scale Your Company Culture
Timestamps: 1:46 - What mistakes do Swiss startups make repeatedly when it comes to culture? 9:01 - The difficulties of creating a culture 12:58 - Important values 20:00 - Scaling company culture: recruiting & on-boarding 35:40 - Treating people fairly The Episode In 60 Seconds It’s never too early Create culture with intention from the very beginning. Start explicitly documenting and “negotiating” your culture as soon as you grow to 10 people or more. Scaling culture Hiring the right people is the only way to scale culture. Hire for values rather than skills alone. Acknowledge that on-boarding new people requires effort from your existing employees. The topic of salaries Fairness and transparency are key, but don’t allow salaries to take center stage in everything you do. Base salaries off of what people need to make a living. Allow for different compensation packages based on the risk appetite of different employees. Letting people go Detect and tackle problems as early as possible. Provide open feedback and a path to improvement. Check-in as often as necessary until the issue is resolved or you let the person go.
October 23, 2019
EP #41 - Andreas Fischler: From Consulting Partner To Startup CEO
Timestamps: 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 Biography Andreas Fischler is the co-founder of and former CEO at Frontify, which offers cloud software for brand management. During his time at Frontify, the company grew from 2 to over 70 employees. Before joining Frontify, he was a partner at Namics and had his own project, Sakku, which produced solar-powered bags. Andreas holds a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from ETH and a Masters in Information Management from the University of St. Gallen.
October 16, 2019
EP #40 - Andri Silberschmidt: Q&A on Starting a Company in Zurich
Timestamps 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? Biography Andri Silberschmidt is a politician, investment consultant and the co-founder of Kaisin. AG. After his apprenticeship at Swisscanto Invest, he became (and is still) responsible for the management of all quantitative equity funds that invest in developing countries. In 2017, together with friends, he founded the restaurant chain Kaisin AG, which currently operates three branches in Zurich and one in Basel. Andri Silberschmidt has been politically active since 2011 and President of the Young Liberals Party of Switzerland since 2016. In 2018, he was elected to the Parliament of the City of Zurich for the FDP (Swiss Liberal Party) and is now a candidate for the National Parliament on the list of the FDP Canton of Zurich. Andri holds a BSc in Business Administration and an MSc in Global Finance from Cass Business School. To get in touch with Andri, message him on Instagram @andrisilberschmidt
October 10, 2019
EP #39 - Estefanía Tapias: The State Of Female Entrepreneurship In Switzerland
Timestamps: 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? The Episode In 60 Seconds What drives inequality in Switzerland? Historical factors such as the absence of a total war which shook up societal structures in other European countries. Expensive childcare and unequal career development paths Venture capital dominated by men How can we tackle inequality? Subsidized child care would be desirable, but is in the end a tax payer decision. Extended parental leave for both parents Education Role models and communities Quotas: yay or nay? Quotas can be a powerful instrument if used wisely. Quotas alone aren’t enough. Coaching and mentoring is required for those who are supposed to fill them. Diversity matters. A team which resembles the customer base which it builds products for will build better products.
October 2, 2019
EP #38 - Estefanía Tapias: How To Hustle In Switzerland
Timestamps: 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 Biography Estefanía Tapias is the CEO and Co-Founder of WeSpace, a community, workspace and digital platform that nurtures female leadership and innovation, having opened its doors in Zurich in 2018. Estefanía holds a PhD in Information Cities and Urban Climate from ETH Zurich and co-developed the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) series on ‘Future Cities’ available on edX. She was also featured on the BILANZ Top 100 Digital Shapers in Switzerland as well as in Forbes’ 30 under 30.
September 25, 2019
EP #37 - Michael Born: Q&A On Co-Founders
Timestamps 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? 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? Biography Michael Born is co-founder and CEO at the ETH spin-off PXL Vision, a tech startup which uses computer vision for secure identity verification. He started PXL Vision together with key employees from his previous company, Dacuda, which specializes in software 3D camera technology and was acquired by Magic Leap in 2017. Before starting his entrepreneurial career, Michael was a consultant at Capgemini, specializing in technology consulting. He holds a MSc in International Affairs from the University of St. Gallen.
September 18, 2019
EP #36 - Markus Okumus: How To Hire And Manage Your Startup Team
Timestamps: 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? The Episode In 60 Seconds People can be an organization’s biggest asset but also one of their greatest pain points. Here are some of Markus Okumus’ key takeaways: Attracting talent In the early stages of a company, it is sometimes difficult to attract the necessary talent without being able to offer the corresponding monetary incentives. A charismatic, passionate founder will be able to inspire the right people to follow along on the journey. Diversity Diverse teams are more successful, so keep an eye on this score. If diversity happens organically, great. If hiring in your network means you only have people who look like yourself around you, you might want to rethink your approach. Hyper-growth Every time you triple your number of employees, you have to re-imagine your entire structure. Some people are unable or unwilling to grow with the company. Don’t be afraid to let them go. If you grow to be a $ 100m revenue company, you’ll need someone who has experience with leading such a company. Values Your values should be more than a subsection on your website. Clearly define them and make them visible everywhere. Justify your decisions in terms of your values. Your employees will start to identify with and be proud of them.
September 12, 2019
EP #35 - Markus Okumus: An Entrepreneur’s Secrets To Selling Two Startups
Timestamps 1:53  - How Markus got involved with 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 Biography Markus Okumus is a serial entrepreneur with two successful exits in Switzerland. In 2007, his first venture, (part of Amiado Group) was acquired by Axel Springer. Only a year later, he started Fashion Days which came to be one of the leading fashion e-commerce businesses in Eastern Europe and was acquired by Naspers in 2015. In 2016, Markus started Baze, a provider of personalized nutrition supplements. Baze closed their series A round with $ 6m in August of this year. Next to his own ventures, Markus is also active as an investor in his role as founder and partner at Canopei, an investment firm focusing on early-stage preventive, and consumer-centric health and wellness companies.
September 5, 2019
EP #34 - Pascal Mathis: Q&A About Early-Stage Fundraising
Timestamps 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? Biography Pascal Mathis is Co-Founder and former COO of GetYourGuide. After he left the company in 2013, he joined Google as an Industry Manager. Subsequently, he dedicated his career to startup coaching and early stage investments as a co-founder and partner at Wingman. Pascal is also an accredited coach for InnoSuise and sits on the advisory board of the Swiss ICT Investor Club. He holds an MSc in Electrical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ).
August 28, 2019
EP #33 - Alex Fries: Your Jobs As A Startup CEO
Timestamps 2:43 - Why start a company in Switzerland after studying in the US 10:00 - How to scale up in 3 years 22:15 - From founder to investor 31:37 - What the entrepreneurial spirit should be like 36:58 - Is age a factor? The Episode In 60 Seconds 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:  Early stage  Fundraising 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.  Sales 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.  Hiring 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. Make noise 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  After A-round 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. After B-round 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.
August 21, 2019
EP #32 - Alex Fries: Selling Two Startups For Several $100m In The Same Year
Timestamps: 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? Biography Originally from the Swiss Canton of Graubunden, Alexander Fries moved to San Francisco in 2002 in connection with a tech startup (SVOX AG) he had co-founded in Switzerland. Today, Alex is one of the most renowned Swiss venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. SVOX AG was acquired by Nuance Inc. in 2011 and Playspan Inc., another startup Alex co-founded, was sold to VISA the same year. In 2005, he founded Ecosystem Ventures with the specific goal of supporting European early-stage tech companies and bringing them onto the American market. He is also a partner at Alpana Ventures, a Swiss VC firm which supports startups in making the bridge into both the American and the Asian market.
August 14, 2019
EP #31 - Frank Thelen: From Failure To Success
Timestamps: 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 Biography Frank Thelen is the Co-Founder and CEO of Freigeist Capital (formerly e42). He is however best known for his role on “Höhle der Löwen”, a German reality TV program where founders pitch to senior venture capitalists for fundraising. Since the early 90’s, he has founded more than 10 companies, most with a strong focus on innovative technology. One of his first ventures, Twisd AG, had to file for bankrupcy in the wake of the bursting “dotcom“ bubble. Based on this experience, he published his autobiography “Startup-DNA – Hinfallen, aufstehen, die Welt verändern” which became a bestseller in Germany. Frank has also had an active role in German politics as one of the leading members of the German Innovation Council.
July 23, 2019
EP #30 - Renato Stalder: Financial Advice For Early Stage Startups
Timestamps 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 The Episode In 60 Seconds When it comes to finances, the mantra is “never procrastinate”. Here are the most important points to start off on the right foot: VAT (Value added tax) VAT is a self-declaration tax, meaning you will not get a declaration form but have to submit it yourself on a quarterly basis. You have to pay VAT if your business generates more than 100k in revenue for the entire year. If you import software from abroad, you have to declare VAT as if you imported goods. Payroll Be aware of mandatory fees and deductions Mandatory fees: old-age pension (first pillar/ AHV), accident insurance (UVG), family allocation (EO), 2nd pillar (BVG) if you earn above 20k, unemployment insurance (ALV). Non-mandatory but recommendable: insurance for salary payments in case of sickness (Krankentaggeld-Versicherung). The insurance covers the employees salary after a certain time on sick leave (usually 60 days). Invoicing Always invoice as fast as possible. 30 days payment period is customary but not mandatory. Try to inquire with the customer about the problem first before you consider debt collection in case of an outstanding payment. Pay your own bills at the end of the payment period. Accounting costs and tools Try to do as much as possible by yourself and then get feedback from an accountant. Use a good software tool and choose a bank that integrates with it (for software tools you can check this list). A year-end review of your work by an accountant should cost something in the range of 1.5 to 4k. If you employ more than 10 people, you have to undergo an external audit which will cost you another 1.5 – 2k.
July 16, 2019
EP #29 - Christian Meisser: Legal Advice For Early Stage Startups
Timestamps: 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? The Episode In 60 Seconds There are 5 legal areas every startup should have covered: Corporate law Have a clear agreement in place of how the departure of a co-founder would be handled. Critically look at shareholders agreements and make sure you understand the implications in case of an exit. Contract law Make sure that any IP produced for you by a third party will also belong to you. Always read contracts before signing. In the B2B business, there is no 30 day return policy. Ensure liability caps on sales contracts in case your product causes unintentional harm to your client. Regulations Be aware of how tougher privacy and data protection laws affect you and your business model. Know which sectors you need special licenses for. HR law Make sure your employee contracts contain a provision for IP created by employees. Sign any employee contract by hand. Consider employee stock option plans. Intellectual property Software is usually protected by copyright rather than patent law. The only way to effectively protect your code is by not disclosing it. For hardware, be aware of existing patents and consider patenting yourself. Consider protecting your company name if it is crucial for your business.
July 3, 2019
EP #28 - Iman Nahvi: B2B Marketing Framework For Startups
Timestamps: 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 Biography Iman Nahvi is the co-founder and CEO of Advertima, a company which uses AI for consumer engagement on physical channels. At Advertima, Iman implemented a holocratic organisational structure, meaning (among other things) equal pay for all employees and a broad distribution of decision-making power. In 2017, Advertima won the “Coolest Startup Award” at the WorldWeb Forum. Before starting his latest venture, Iman had founded various other companies, such as Digital Delight and Taxi Frosch. Iman holds a BA in Banking & Finance from the University of Zurich and an MA in Entrepreneurship from the University of St. Gallen.
June 18, 2019
EP #27 - Iman Nahvi: From Family Business To Multi-million Startup
Timestamps: 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 Biography Iman Nahvi is the co-founder and CEO of Advertima, a company which uses AI for consumer engagement on physical channels. At Advertima, Iman implemented a holocratic organisational structure, meaning (among other things) equal pay for all employees and a broad distribution of decision-making power. In 2017, Advertima won the “Coolest Startup Award” at the WorldWeb Forum. Before starting his latest venture, Iman had founded various other companies, such as Digital Delight and Taxi Frosch. Iman holds a BA in Banking & Finance from the University of Zurich and an MA in Entrepreneurship from the University of St. Gallen.
June 4, 2019
EP #26 - Alan Frei: B2C Marketing Framework for Startups
Timestamps   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 Biography Alan Frei is the co-founder of, an e-commerce platform for sex toys and lingerie. Before starting Amorana, he experimented with a variety of other projects such as and LooksOfLove, from which he learned what it takes to make a company successful. Alan is a University of Zurich alumni and headed the University’s startup center. He lives a minimalist lifestyle, counting less than 120 items in his personal possession.
May 21, 2019
EP #25 - Alan Frei: How To Build A Successful Multimillion E-Commerce Startup
Timestamps   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 Biography Alan Frei is the co-founder of, an e-commerce platform for sex toys and lingerie. Before starting Amorana, he experimented with a variety of other projects such as and LooksOfLove, from which he learned what it takes to make a company successful. Alan is a University of Zurich alumni and headed the University’s startup center. He lives a minimalist lifestyle, counting less than 120 items in his personal possession.
May 7, 2019
EP #24 - Daniel Gutenberg: How To Fundraise As An Early Stage Startup
Timestamps: 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? Biography Finding unicorns before they have 10 employees is his ambition. Daniel Gutenberg is one of Switzerland’s most active Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors. During his career he’s collected a total of 12 unicorns in his portfolio, so far. Daniel started his first company – Gutenberg Communication Systems – in 1991 and sold it in 2000 as part of a deal to become the CEO of the acquiring company. During this time, Daniel was a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), through which he met people like Jeff Bezos and Marc Andreessen. Since 2003 he has been active as an investor and advisor to startups through the Swiss venture capital firm Venture Incubator Partners. Daniel was awarded business angel of the year in 2011 (SECA). Get upd
April 17, 2019
EP #23 - Daniel Gutenberg: One Man, Twelve Unicorns – And Still Counting
Timestamps 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 Biography Finding unicorns before they have 10 employees is his ambition. Daniel Gutenberg is one of Switzerland’s most active Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors. During his career he’s collected a total of 12 unicorns in his portfolio, so far. Daniel started his first company – Gutenberg Communication Systems – in 1991 and sold it in 2000 as part of a deal to become the CEO of the acquiring company. During this time, Daniel was a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), through which he met people like Jeff Bezos and Marc Andreessen. Since 2003 he has been active as an investor and advisor to startups through the Swiss venture capital firm Venture Incubator Partners. Daniel was awarded business angel of the year in 2011 (SECA).
April 2, 2019
EP #22 - Herbert Bay: How To Build a Great Product
Timestamps  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? Biography Herbert is the co-founder of Kooaba, an image recognition program which he successfully sold to Qualcomm in 2014. Following his successful exit, he embarked on a sailing trip from France to New Zealand together with his wife and two young sons. While at sea, he managed his second venture, Shortcut, remotely. After a 4-year journey, Herbert returned to Switzerland, where he took the position as Principal Software Engineer, Digital Health & User Perception at Magic Leap, a US company specializes in “mixed-reality” applications. Herbert holds a PhD from ETH Zurich and is a published researcher.
March 19, 2019
EP #21 - Herbert Bay: Selling a Company and Sailing Around The World
Timestamps: 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. Biography Herbert is the co-founder of Kooaba, an image recognition program which he successfully sold to Qualcomm in 2014. Following his successful exit, he embarked on a sailing trip from France to New Zealand together with his wife and two young sons. While at sea, he managed his second venture, Shortcut, remotely. After a 4-year journey, Herbert returned to Switzerland, where he took the position as Principal Software Engineer, Digital Health & User Perception at Magic Leap, a US company specializes in “mixed-reality” applications. Herbert holds a PhD from ETH Zurich and is a published researcher.
March 5, 2019
EP #20 - Cédric Waldburger: What Makes a Good Startup Team
Timestamps   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 Biography Cédric is a Venture Capitalist and founder of Dfinity, Tenderloin Ventures and Sendtask. He started his first venture – Mediasign, a digital branding agency – in high school. He went on to study electrical engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and spent the following years in different jobs in Hongkong, New York and Berlin. Since 2013, he is active as a venture capitalist through his company Tenderloin Ventures. With Dfinity, he became involved in his first blockchain project. Cedric is an avowed minimalist, owning only 64 things. He’s known for his strongly optimized lifestyle, following what he calls the “90 review and preview”.
February 19, 2019
EP #19 - Cédric Waldburger: Minimalism and Multitasking in the Business World
Timestamps: 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 Biography Cédric is a Venture Capitalist and founder of Tenderloin Ventures and Sendtask. He started his first venture – Mediasign, a digital branding agency – in high school. He went on to study electrical engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and spent the following years in different jobs in Hongkong, New York and Berlin. Since 2013, he is active as a venture capitalist through his company Tenderloin Ventures. He also became involved in his first blockchain project with the company Dfinity. Cédric is an avowed minimalist, owning only 64 things. He’s known for his strongly optimized lifestyle, following what he calls the “90 review and preview”.
February 5, 2019
EP #18 - Christian Hirsig: How To Find The Right Startup Idea
Timestamps 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 Biography Christian is one of the co-founders of and a passionate serial entrepreneur. He founded his first venture — Atizo, a crowdsourcing platform for ideas — in 2007. He eventually sold the company and went on to start the consulting business and startup incubator Pacific Catch Ltd. together with his wife, Bettina Hirsig. Under the umbrella of Pacific Catch, he has initiated and supported a wide variety of projects such as „Geile Eier“ — a breakfast franchise, Blacknose — a Swiss mountain pale ale brand and Powercoders — a coding academy for refugees. Additionally, Christian is the founder of TEDxBern and serves as a startup coach for be-advanced, Startfeld and Kickstart Accelerator. Christian was named one of the „Digital Shapers 2018“ by Bilanz Magazin and was invited to speak at TEDxZurich 2017.
January 16, 2019
EP #17 - Christian Hirsig: Founding a Coding Academy For Refugees
Timestamps: 3:00 - Changes for Swisspreneur. 6:28 - Associations vs For-profit companies. 12:40 - Finding good employees. 23:25 - Growing up in an entrepreneurial family. 26:47 - When to leave a startup. Biography Christian is one of the co-founders of and a passionate serial entrepreneur. He founded his first venture — Atizo, a crowdsourcing platform for ideas — in 2007. He eventually sold the company and went on to start the consulting business and startup incubator Pacific Catch Ltd. together with his wife, Bettina Hirsig. Under the umbrella of Pacific Catch, he has initiated and supported a wide variety of projects such as „Geile Eier“ — a breakfast franchise, Blacknose — a Swiss mountain pale ale brand and Powercoders — a coding academy for refugees. Additionally, Christian is the founder of TEDxBern and serves as a startup coach for be-advanced, Startfeld and Kickstart Accelerator. Christian was named one of the „Digital Shapers 2018“ by Bilanz Magazin and was invited to speak at TEDxZurich 2017.
January 1, 2019
EP #16 - Anastasia Hofmann & Naomi MacKenzie: Friends, Founders and Partners in Crime
Timestamps 2:06 - What makes a successful accelerator application 15:40 - Launching your first pilot 29:00 - Hiring and outsourcing 33:16 - Splitting shares 39:55 - Making it work without salaries Biographies Anastasia Hofmann Through her work experience in Malta, Miami Beach, Lausanne and Zurich, Anastasia developed a strong fascination for the hospitality industry. She holds a Bachelor of international hospitality management from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and is very interested in the development and implementation of sustainable practices within this dynamic industry. This led her to co-found KITRO, a startup which provides the technology to identify, track and monitor food waste. Naomi MacKenzie With experience working in the food and beverage industry, Naomi witnessed the enormous amount of edible food that is being thrown away every day. This has led her to commit herself to reducing the avoidable food waste in this sector. The idea behind KITRO originated during Naomi’s studies at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. Since then, she and her co-founder Anastasia have been vigorously working to bring the hospitality industry a solution to tackle the growing issue of food waste. Their goal is to bring back the value of food, so that all food is appreciated and not wasted.
February 15, 2018
EP #15 - Thomas Sterchi: Creating
Timestamps 9:00 - Deciding who to sell to 22:52 - Retaining confidence after your first failure 36:14 - What to look for in a headhunter 41:05 - Stock option plans 52:49 - Building a company, not a startup Biography Thomas is best known as the founder of, an online job market platform. In 2007, he and his partner sold the venture to an American holding company for a multi-million dollar sum. Since his successful exit, Thomas has built up a diversified portfolio of projects under the umbrella of his holding company “Tom Talent”. Examples include the online-TV portal Teleboy or the music festival Zermatt Unplugged. Thomas has also successfully produced several movies, amongst them “A Dangerous Method” starring Keira Knightley.
November 21, 2017
EP #14 - Rosmarie Michel: A Pioneer for Swiss Women in Business
Timestamps 7:05 - Meeting President Reagan 21:15 - How a public speaker is born 28:12 - Skills for managing crises 34:34 - Why it's important to empower women in business 37:49 - Advice to young women Biography  Rosmarie Michel, now in her eighties, looks back on a lifetime of entrepreneurship and advocacy for women in business. In the 1970s she was one of the first women to be appointed to the board of major Swiss companies such as Valora and Volksbank, which later was bought by Credit Suisse. From 1983-1985 she held the presidency of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW). She also served over a decade as the vice chair of Women’s World Banking, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing female entrepreneurs with access to financial resources. During her career Rosmarie met and exchanged her thoughts on women in business with many influential personalities, such as President Ronald Reagan and Hillary Clinton. To this day, Rosmarie remains active as a mentor of female entrepreneurs and a driver for the empowerment of all women.
October 10, 2017
EP #13 - Markus Popp: Success, Failure and Everything In Between
Timestamp 7:54 - The importance of your economic footprint 15:36 - Realizing you've chosen the wrong strategy 27:20 - The hard parts of entrepreneurship 35:11 - Does anyone have the recipe for success? 46:29 - Advice for young entrepreneurs Biography Markus Popp is best known as the founder of, a party event platform with photo gallery and community features. In 2009, Markus left and embarked on a half-year inspirational sabbatical. Upon his return, he founded the company builder Mühlemann & Popp Online Media AG together with one of his co-founders at, Silvan Mühlemann. Next to being engaged at Mühlemann & Popp, Markus has launched various other digital startups such as SOBRADO or Markus has a Masters in Management, Technology and Economics from ETH Zurich.
September 5, 2017
EP #12 - Lea von Bidder: Talking Gender Gap in the Startup World
Timestamps 2:11 - The gender gap in the Swiss startup ecosystem 18:45 - Splitting up with your co-founder and abandoning the startup 34:05 - Startup competitions: yay or nay? 42:16 - The advantage of incubators 48:12 - Choosing the right idea Biography Lea is best know as the Co-founder and President of Ava Science, Inc., the company behind the Ava bracelet, the first fertility-tracking wearable device. Prior to starting Ava, Lea co-founded L’inouï, a premium chocolate production and retail chain in Bangalore, India. She also spent time working for the marketing division of Procter & Gamble in Frankfurt and for a strategy-consulting boutique in Paris. Lea holds a Master’s degree in global entrepreneurship from EM Lyon in France, Zhejiang University in China and Purdue Krannert University in the USA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of St.Gallen and HEC Montréal in Canada. In 2017, she was recognized by the University of St. Gallen with the HSG Founder of the Year award.
August 8, 2017
EP #11 - Daniel & Markus Freitag: The Bootstrapped Startup With No CEO
Timestamps 7:00 - Coming up with an initial marketing strategy 11:45 - Bootstrapping your business 16:06 - Measuring your ecological footprint 24:37 - What they look for in new employees 40:55 - How digitalization influences your business Biography In 1993, graphic designers Markus and Daniel Freitag were looking for a functional, water-repellent and robust bag to hold their creative work. Inspired by the multicolored heavy traffic that rumbled through the Zurich transit intersection in front of their flat, they developed a messenger bag from used truck tarpaulins, discarded bicycle inner tubes and car seat belts. This is how the first FREITAG bags took shape in the living room of their shared apartment. Today their products are available in 16 F-STORES as well as at over 450 resellers around the world. FREITAG has been headquartered at the Nœrd industrial complex in Zurich-Oerlikon since 2011. In 2014, FREITAG launched a new product, F-ABRIC. These completely compostable textiles are based on bast fibers that are produced using a minimum of resources within a 2500-kilometer radius of headquarters. FREITAG still belongs to the two Freitag brothers, and, as Creative Directors, they still oversee each new model through to series production.
July 10, 2017
EP #10 - Adrian Locher: Succeeding Beyond Your Wildest Expectations
Timestamps 6:44 - What to look for in a co-founder 11:38 - When is the right time to become an entrepreneur? 31:45 - How to steer a fast growing company 36:42 - Handling bad press 44:47 - The future of AI Biography Adrian is best known as Founder and COO of, an e-commerce coupons and discounts platform for products and services. Within a year of starting the business, was the fastest growing Swiss start-up and market leader in the group buying segment in Switzerland. After 18 months, the Swiss media group Ringier bought 60% of as a strategic investment. At that time the company was valued at CHF 30 Mio. After his exit from, Adrian went on to start new ventures that are leveraging Artificial Intelligence. Adrian graduated with a degree in business and economics from the University of St. Gallen (HSG), where he started his very first business as a software developer. He was awarded “HSG Entrepreneur of the Year 2012”, “Swiss E-Commerce Champion 2015” and was ranked “40 under 40” by Swiss Bilanz magazine.
June 13, 2017
EP #9 - Peter Schüpach: How to Pack Up and Start Again
Timestamps 3:18 - Why say no to a banking career 23:34 - Having to shut down your company 27:30 - Recovering from the crash 36:34 - Why you could not want to sell your company to Facebook 44:49 - Knowing when to move on Biography Peter Schuepbach started his entrepreneurial career as a co-founder of Miracle Software AG back in 1986 and served as its Chief Executive Officer for more than 10 years. He grew the organization in 14 years to a 350 employee software company with offices in 5 countries and went public with an IPO at the Swiss Stock Exchange SWX in 1999. Today he is engaged in several start-up companies and is a member of the board of several organizations, for example SwissCommerce, an internet platform that builds and buys E-Commerce companies in special interest markets. He received the award “Business Angel of the Year” from the ASBAN (Swiss Business Angel Association) in 2005.
May 4, 2017
EP #8 - Roman Gaus: The Challenges of a Social Impact Startup
Timestamps 7:32 - Realizing corporate life isn't for you 28:32 - Hiring strategies 32:57 - Handling divergent expectations within the company 45:14 - Setting and changing targets 49:17 - Work-life balance Biography Roman is best known as the Founder and CEO of UrbanFarmers, a company dedicated to building commercial food production systems in and around cities. Together with Andreas Graber, he has developed UrbanFarmers’ vision how food could be grown in an urban space at a large scale. He noticed the trend abroad and learned about a breakthrough Swiss technology that could make it more reliable and sustainable. Since 2011, UrbanFarmers has become a technology leader in Aquaponics, saving water, energy and nutrients to grow fish and plants in a closed-loop. Roman graduated from University of St. Gallen with an M.A. in Accounting, Finance and Controlling. Before starting UrbanFarms, he has a worked with various large companies in the food and health sector, such as P&G, Novartis and Franke Group.
April 4, 2017
EP #7 - André Borschberg: The Startup That Flew A Solar Powered Plane Around the Globe
Timestamps 7:45 - What André learned from being a fighter pilot in the Swiss army 11:26 - What young people should do to prepare for an entrepreneurial career 19:24 - What a great team looks like 28:48 - How to deal with risk 31:17 - Dealing with crises Biography André Borschberg is best known as the CEO, co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse: the enterprise that, under his guidance, built a solar-powered plane that broke the world record for the longest solo flight in an airplane of any kind: 117 hours and 52 minutes. He had previously achieved recognition for the first-ever day and night flight in a solar airplane flying Solar Impulse 1 in 2010, followed by eight different world records. André led the development of the aircraft on a mission that began as the passionate vision of Bertrand Piccard more than 13 years ago, tackling numerous challenges ranging from equipment failures to major delays along the way. André graduated from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and holds a Master’s in Management Science from the MIT Sloan School of Management in Boston. In addition, he was a partner of a venture capital firm for eight years and successfully launched two start-ups, including Innovative Silicon, a technology company in the field of microprocessor memories. Today, André contributes as a mentor and by driving initiatives as a member of the World President’s and the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). He also speaks frequently at leadership forums such as the World Economic Forum (WEF).
March 7, 2017
EP #6 - Alisée de Tonnac: Creating a Global Startup Initiative
Timestamps 0:40 - The concept of Seedspaces and co-habitation 14:23 - Things to consider when picking a co-founder 17:09 - The importance of recruiting 22:43 - Operating across different cultures 31:45 - Advice to female entrepreneurs Biography Alisée de Tonnac is the Founder and CEO of Seedstars, an investment firm building and investing in tech companies in 60+ emerging markets. After traveling for a year around the world she set up the first edition of Seedstars in 2013 and grew the competition to 60+ cities around the world. Prior to founding Seedstars, Alisée worked as product manager for luxury brands at L’Oréal Group and was part of the Italian team at Voyage Privé, a leading European startup. She graduated from HEC Lausanne and obtained her Masters in International Management from the Bocconi University in Italy with highest honors. She was also a member of the Harvard Model Congress Europe where she won the Award of Excellence. Alisée is a board member of the School of Management in Fribourg, Switzerland. She was nominated top 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur by Forbes Magazine and an Innovation Fellow by Wired UK.
February 7, 2017
EP #5 - Daniel Graf: A Sillicon Valley Veteran
Timestamps: 8:46 - Launching a startup in 11 months 22:39 - Working at Google 32:26 - How to drive the company's culture as a CEO 37:51 - What Switzerland can learn from Silicon Valley and Berlin 41:32 - What it takes to start a company nowadays Biography Daniel joined Uber in 2015 as the Head of Marketplace, the team that works on Uber’s dynamic pricing model. Before joining Uber he did a short stint at Twitter as the Vice President of Consumer Product. Prior to Twitter Daniel was in charge of leading Google’s Maps & Local teams. After Apple ousted Google Maps from iOS in 2012, Daniel led the development of an award-winning Google mapping experience that shot to number one in the iTunes store. Fast Company recognized Daniel for this achievement as one of the Most Creative People in Business 2013. Prior to Google, Daniel was the CEO of Kyte, which he founded in 2005. Kyte became a leading platform for live and on-demand video content. Daniel sold Kyte to KIT Digital in 2011. Before Kyte, Daniel joined Philips Consumer Electronics in 2001 where he developed the world’s first Internet audio stereo system and the first wireless Home Entertainment System with Internet video services. In 1999 and 2000 he was the Chief Software Engineer of ReQuest Multimedia, an award-winning Consumer Electronics startup, based in New York. There he created the world’s first MP3 Hard Disk Jukebox, the predecessor to Apple’s “iPod”. Daniel earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from the Interstaatliche Hochschule für Technik Buchs (NTB) and an MS in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
November 15, 2016
EP #4 - Toni Schneider: The Trials and Tribulations of A Startup CEO
Timestamps 15:46 - How to build a company on open source 22:40 - Scaling Automattic with a distributed team 36:20 - Having a long-term view of your startup 44:18 - Loneliness as a startup CEO 51:13 - Creating feedback loops Biography Toni Schneider is a founding Partner of True Ventures. From 2006-2014 he was CEO of Automattic where he led to become a top 10 global internet destination with close to a billion monthly visitors. At Automattic, Toni also helped create a new type of startup with over 300 employees working together in an “office optional”, distributed fashion from homes and co-working spaces in over 40 countries. His career in technology began as a software engineer at Crystal River Engineering where he built 3D audio simulators for NASA and a VP of Technology at Aureal Semiconductor (acquired by Creative Labs). He joined the world of startups as the co-founder of Uplister, a venture-backed music recommendation startup in early 2000. It was his role as CEO of Oddpost, however, that may have impacted his career path most significantly. Yahoo! acquired Oddpost in 2004, which formed the basis of the new Yahoo! Mail used by over 250 million people around the world. Toni joined Yahoo! as a VP and created the Yahoo! Developer Network. While at True and Automattic, he also found time to co-found Sphere (acquired by AOL) with Tony Conrad. Voted startup CEO of the Year at the 2007 Crunchies, Toni’s leadership style is commended by many of those who have worked for or with him. When he is not running a company or advising another, you can find him in his VW van crossing the US with his family, coaching San Francisco Little League baseball, or tinkering with old cars.
October 4, 2016
EP #3 - Myke Näf: From Farm Living to Founding Doodle
Timestamps 10:35 - Early days of Doodle and taking risks 16:21 - Managing growth and culture 25:18 - How to manage a product backlog 27:35 - On launching early 38:20 - Myke's productivity tips Biography Myke Näf is the founder and former CEO of Doodle, the prominent event scheduler software. He sold the company for an undisclosed amount to Tamedia in 2014. Shortly after the acquisition he left Doodle and has become an active angel investor and startup mentor in Switzerland. He’s a Venture Partner at Cavalry Ventures, a Startup Mentor at Kickstart Accelerator, and serves on a number of different boards. He’s also a Partner at Swiss Life Lab, an incubator for Fintech, Insurtech and Propertytech. Myke holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from ETH Zurich and Executive Diploma from the University of St. Gallen (HSG).
August 30, 2016
EP #2 - Dania Gerhardt: The Ups and Downs of Entrepreneurship
Timestamps 1:06 - Why open offices in Zurich, Austin and Cape Town 5:54 - Why studying economics aids you as a CEO 21:55 - Dealing with critics 32:03 - Knowing it's time to pivot 46:25 - Founding a company with your husband/wife Biography Dania Gerhardt is the founder of Amazee Labs. She started in 2007 and successfully pivoted her startup to one of Switzerland’s premier Web services companies Amazee Labs. The company has offices in Zurich, Austin and Cape Town. In 2014 Dania moved from Zurich to Cape Town and frequently commutes between South Africa and Switzerland. Dania serves on the boards of the Swiss Internet Industry Association and Swissnex. She is also the host of TEDx Zurich since 2012. Before her entrepreneurial life, Dania was an accounting executive at KPMG in Zurich. She received a Master in Economics from the University of Basel.
August 30, 2016
EP #1 - Alain Chuard: From Switzerland to the US and Back Again
Timestamps 18:15 - How to make it work when your co-founder is your wife 28:39 - How to find product-market fit 36:24 - Selling his company Wildfire to Google 41:45 - What it's like working for Google 47:14 - The Swiss startup ecosystem Biography Alain Chuard is a Swiss serial entrepreneur and former professional snowboarder living in Palo Alto, California. He is best known as the founder and Chief product officer of Wildfire Interactive, the social media marketing technology company acquired by Google in July 2012. At Google, Alain was responsible for overseeing Wildfire’s strategy, integration into Google’s Display Ads Division, and external representation of the product. His early professional years were spent as a financial analyst with New York investment bank Salomon Smith Barney and as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Highland Capital Partners.  Alain is also a former world-ranking professional snowboarder who competed on the World-Cup Pro Tour. He was ranked in the top 4 in Switzerland, placed in the top 4 in the NY State qualifier for the U.S. National Championships, and is among the most published snowboard athletes in history. Alain holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (2007) and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Macalester College (1999) in St. Paul, MN.
August 30, 2016
August 29, 2016
August 29, 2016