A Hitchhiker's guide to the Swiss French Tech Startup Community
A Hitchhiker's guide
to the Swiss French
Last updated 2015-01-19
Thank you to Contributors
Jordi Montserrat (Venturekick)
+ Inspired by
Based on a slide deck for Boulder, Colorado by David Cohen, Techstars
(in turn based on one from LA by Sam Teller)
The slide titles have been kept the same to allow comparison of the 2
Where necessary I've added new slides - these have a +
in the title (like this slide)
What Makes the Swiss Romande
Startup Community Work
● Plenty of smart people around
● International outlook (because of small local market)
● $200k seed finance is easy to find (FFF and grants).
● World class technical universities with support for
● Government sponsorship (CTI) of $500k to $1M or more
for any technology with strong IP.
● Government funded (CTI) business coaching
● Office space in science parks.
(which is all completely different to what makes Boulder
Some (not all) Notable Startups
Each year Startup.ch gets 100 experts across
Switzerland vote for the top 100 Swiss startups.
The 2014 list is here
Apart from Online travel (Housetrip who've
moved to London) the list is mainly
microtechnology, biotech/medtech, enterprise
software/SaaS and high tech manufacturing.
Startup (genome) map of Swiss
The crowdsourced startupgenome.com hasn't
been adopted locally
startup.ch has an up to date list of all Swiss
The Swiss StartupMonitor.ch maps startups
using a more scientific/qualitative analysis
approach (business school & CTI supported)
https://www.startupdigest.com/digests/suisse-romande - a well
maintained list of meetups and events
Geneva Lean StartUp Group
Geneva Tech Meetup
Less startup focused:
● rezonance.ch ( a.k.a. first tuesday )
Lift (in Geneva)
Mobicamp (in Bern)
Nipconf (in Lausanne)
EPFL (world top 20 tech)
University of Geneva
Unversity of Lausanne
University of Neuchatel,
IMD Business School (world top 20 biz)
and many others
Strong focus (led by EPFL) on spinout of new
technologies and industrial collaboration
Finding Talent / Co-Founders
No specific events for this. Maybe try the other
meetups & events?
Finding a Job with a Startup
No resources focused on startups.
Maybe try going to the innovation parks
or the online boards like jobup.ch
EPFL hosts Forum startup day (once a
year with around 20-40 startups)
Venture Capital Firms
Short answer is "plenty" - see the http://www.
The longer answer is that today there are no
big players/leaders in local early-stage
+ Cofunding Platforms
investiere.ch (raised 4.4M CHF equity for 9
startups in 2014)
Accelerators + Incubators
la Forge at EPFL innovationpark
IMD startup competition
EHL (Ecole Hotelier Lausanne) Incubator
CERN (building 3179 - no public access)
CTI Entrepreneurship Training
Startup Support Orgs
Independant tech focused
Independant general focus
local chamber of commerces (some startup focused
events and help)
startups.ch (not to be confused with startup.ch)
Government run tech focused
CTI - several initiatives
La Muse (Geneva and Lausanne)
Impact Hub Geneva
There are no dev or design shop focused on
startups. The sad fact is that local rates are too
expensive for startups - any startup who wants
to outsource development will invariably
offshore it (unless they know a specific local
resource who can work flexibly).
Startup Friendly Big Companies
Plenty of Big companies, none are known for
being startup friendly.
Swisscom tries (Swisscom Ventures does seed
investments, Conference sponsorship).
Startup friendly lawyers:
CVP partners Damien Conus (Geneva) & Karim
Swiss lawyers have high hourly rates. If you don’t understand the
basics of Shareholder agreements etc. and you leave it to lawyers to
educate you & negotiate with investors then then you will have high
Most Swiss startup legals are based on the standard legal docs at
SECA (shareholders agreement, etc.)
Banking and Finance
Lots of banks and corporate finance in Geneva.
Not very accessible for startups.
Nothing with a focus on startups
ICT Journal (enterprise computing focus
with a bit of startup news)
ComInMag (marketing & media)
Books by local Startup Authors
Business Model Generation (Alexander
Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur)
Start-Up: the book (Hervé Lebret)
startup-book.com (Hervé Lebret)
startupaholic.com (Sébastien Flury)
HighTechFondue (David Brown)
TekFin (Yann Ranchere)
+ Fintech twitter
Anthemis Group / @anthemis
Ben Robinson / @robinsonbenp
François Briod @BriodF
Guillaume Dubray / @GuillaumeDubray
Alexandra Gaillard / @investglass
Laurent Haug / @laurenthaug
LE DECODEUR / @b3b
Sean Park / @parkparadigm
Swiss Finance Startups / @SFS_CH
Yann Ranchere / @tekfin
(list from Marc P. Bernegger / @marcpbernegger)
inno-swiss sends a weekly digest
+ News Aggregators
inno-swiss.com is a portal which
aggregates all Swiss startup-related blog
- Neither has an editorial staff or opinion (they are
not "Press") - they are aggregating news and press
twitter.com/Alpict & blog.alpict.com
Startup Friendly Hangout Spots
Puur cafe at EPFL innovation park, building J
(no public Wifi or power)
la-Muse (both Geneva and Lausanne)
organises a weekly pique-nique for startups -
very broad, no tech focus.
Most people's expectations are unrealistic for engaging with
If you are looking for work understand that salaries are 20%
to 40% less than bigcos or banks.
Most bigco experience needs to be adapted before it's
relevant to startups.
Emailing (as recommended for engaging in Boulder), be
specific about what you want & clear objective (eg. to get a
follow up meeting).
If someone responds by email then usually they will
eventually agree to a meeting - even if they cancel a few
times (many senior people are travelling a lot and have
difficulty managing their schedules) .
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.