Swiss Startups, this might be great news for you: In September 2016, we will take five startups to our outpost in Silicon Valley for a week-long business development trip. I am running this program and can assure you – it has been a great experience and of much value for the 16 winners that went there since 2013. Are you interested? Let me give you some details why this might be for you and why we run this program.

1. What makes this trip unique?



The program is ideal for startups wishing to challenge their business model in a global context and who are not afraid to do so in the most vibrant – and most competitive – tech ecosystem on this planet: Silicon Valley. Beware, this doesn’t go without risk: You will probably experience a great level of inspiration, yet at the same time you might experience a feeling of being overwhelmed by the sheer speed, technical know-how and the people you will meet.

We can make this happen by leveraging Swisscom’s unique and long-standing relation with Silicon Valley’s community:

  • For over 15 years, we have had people on the ground in our Silicon Valley outpost to scout for innovation and to identify trends.
  • Swisscom Ventures has been an active investor in Silicon Valley startups such as Matrixx, Plumgrid or Quantenna.
  • Finally, we develop some of our latest solutions in our cloud labs in Menlo Park.

Once we have identified our winner’s needs, we use this network to setup individual meetings for each of the winning startups. Some are looking for potential customers, others may want to explore their chances for a venture investment or meet with industry experts in their respective field. Last year, we had over 60 individual meetings over the course of the week and 2-3 pitching opportunities to venture capitalist. But more importantly, it is the quality and diversity of the meetings that make the trip unique.

«The week with Swisscom was the perfect introduction to the Valley. We got to meet many investors, experts and potential partners. I would suggest this trip to any start-up.» Lea von Bidder, co-founder Ava Women, winner Swisscom StartUp Challenge 2015

2. That’s why we do it

Basically, we are open to all Swiss startups from seed stage until around Series B that have a highly scalable business model with international potential.

There are however a few areas that we address explicitly to apply – and there’s a reason for that: We do not only want to organize a brilliant trip but search for startups that we can work with. Swisscom – like many big corporates – needs outside innovation to stay ahead of the game. Some of it may come from the global technology providers. But some of it will certainly come from more agile teams that can disrupt industries, and we (telecom) might be one of them.

Since Swisscom wants to be Switzerland’s number one digitalization company, we are particularly encouraging applications from startups that innovate in areas relevant for our business such as:

  • IT & Telecommunications
  • Internet of Things
  • Big Data
  • Fintech

3. How our winners are performing

We have checked back with our 30 winners and finalists at the beginning of the year to see where they stand. We were quite happy to see that:

  • 27 are still in business
  • 2 are closed
  • 1 was acquired (by Logitech)

In total, they have received funding of more than CHF 50m from Swisscom Ventures and other investors. Swisscom Ventures has invested in four of them so far:

  • Ava: Smart wearable startup which develops a bracelet that can do fertility tracking for conception (and potentially contraception)
  • Crowd: The team developed an app that assists people in organizing their leisure time using big data technologies
  • Geosatis: The startup offers an innovative all-in-one solution for modern out-of-prison sentences
  • Actlight: An EPFL startup that develops a new type of photodetectors and improves photovoltaic energy harvesting technology

We hope to identify more candidates for a venture investment in the 2016 winners.

SUC 2016 Facts & Figures

Facts and Figures

4. Meet our top notch jury

In order to assess not only the general potential of our applicants but to also support startups on their way to success, we have compiled a jury of internal managers and experts from all areas of Swisscom, which is complemented with selected judges from venture capital and academia. Here are some of our jury members:

  • Adrienne Corboud Fumagalli, who is VP of Innovation and Technology Transfer at EPF Lausanne
  • Beat Schillig from venturelab – he is one of the most experienced Swiss business angels and entrepreneurs who will also be a mentor of the program in the US
  • Experts from Swisscom TV, our big data team, fintech and mobile business
  • Executives from some of our biggest subsidiaries and joint ventures such as Siroop, Local/Search and Admeira
  • And of course we have Swisscom Ventures be part of the jury

5. Application deadline and roadmap

Mark your calendar for May 15. That’s all there is to know because until then we need your application. The rest you can find in the infographic below. And if you have any questions – please reach out to me.

Process and Areas of Application

Process and Areas of Application

This post was originally published on Swisscom´s ICT Blog.