Last summer, I was a member of the jury for a business plan competition. During the preparations, I came across a business plan that demonstrates really well how differently the topic of “growth” is approached in Switzerland and Silicon Valley:


The start-up, a marketplace for services, was planning expansion from Lucerne to Berne and Zurich in the first six months of the year, a further seven months were estimated for western Switzerland and Ticino, before approaching Germany in mid-2017, and then the UK and the US at any undefined time in the future. Two years for a 300-kilometre “expansion”? This is definitely not enough time when you operate in a market where there can be only one winner.

Success vs failure

A meeting a few weeks prior to this stood in stark contrast: this year, I headed the Swisscom start-up competition StartUp Challenge, in which five start-ups had the chance of winning a week-long business trip to Silicon Valley. This involved us pitching to one of the largest traditional Silicon Valley start-up investors. We got to experience the ambition that is accepted, and also expected, in a business plan: one of the managing directors made it clear that a start-up is a failure if it gets stuck at sales of 20–30 million USD per year. In Switzerland, however, most start-up investors would be happy to have these kinds of companies in their portfolios! ​

More about the Swisscom StartUp Challenge

This post was originally published on the Swisscom dialogue magazin.