Last Friday was the demo day of the first ever batch of the brand new Swiss Start Up Factory. This is a new accelerator program sponsored by Goldbach Group (a Swiss media company), which aims to help entrepreneurs to develop their startups from ideas into betas or MVPs.
The event was thought as a pitch day where investors went to hear four pitches from three Swiss teams and one Spanish team. One of the things I like about the European startup ecosystem is that because of the multiculturalism intrinsic of Europe, you tend to find truly different pitches in one single event. This because entrepreneurs are trying to solve the problems they have in their own countries and cultures and, certainly, the problems that Spanish people have are really different from those that Germans have. For example, in Germany, you would barely hear pitches about mobile payments because Germans like to use cash as a way to control their expenses. However, in Switzerland, mobile and electronic payments are an establishment; when living there I survived weeks without withdrawing because I could pay everything with my credit card or smartphone.
Beaconsmind is a sales and marketing solution (SaaS & hardware) for retailers that want to engage their customers inside their brick and mortar stores through pushed ads and communication. Customers download the retail’s app, and when they visit the store they receive notifications based on their location inside the store (detected by beacons). Beaconsmind is doing something similar to what Sensorberg in Germany does, or to what startups such as Estimote are doing in the USA.
Carhelper is a marketplace for car repair services. The startup helps consumers who already know what reparation their car needs. Users just go online and choose between three service proposals from their nearest car garages. Then, book the service and go! There are similar companies already doing this (Autobluter, FairGarage, etc.); however, the entrepreneurs assure that there is no one serving the Swiss market.
Blinkers for Bikes wants to decrease the number of cyclist accidents in all European cities by launching an integral safety system for bicycles. This is a smarter version of bike lights set that provides two main security features to cyclists: a) blinking lights so that cyclist can indicate when they will turn; b) a laser that projects in the floor delimitating a safety space around cyclist’s bike so auto drivers do not get dangerously close. The product is easily integrated to a bike, and is controlled by the cyclist in the bike handlebars.
Struckd wants to make life easier for game developers. The two young entrepreneurs behind this startup developed an app that allows any person (with or without coding skills) to create games using an easy drag and drop interface. Then, you have the option to share your games with friends. As users develop more and more games, they get access to more assets (actions or features) to make their games more complex and interesting. In the first phase, the team will focus on the kids market because gaming in this segment is growing and yet not many people are paying attention to it.
As first time entrepreneurs first time pitching to investors, entrepreneurs hesitated when answering some of the investors’ questions regarding technicalities such as patents & valuations. And this is ok, as first-time entrepreneur you might not know about these technicalities by the time you are graduating from your accelerator program. However, you need to learn this as fast as possible! because the better you are prepared the higher chances of getting funds.
Regarding questions about your business and market, there is no excuse not to know the answer or not to have thought about the questions. I believe all startups have challenges, however, the good startups are those whose founders acknowledge and think about all those challenges before any investor asks them about them. During this demo day, all the teams except one responded to these types of questions confident of their businesses.
Overall the demo day was interesting because all teams were really passionate and convinced about their businesses, and the businesses were something a bit different to what I receive every day (please, no more marketplace for luxury watches). If you ask me for my favorites, I would say Beaconsmind and Struckd because their businesses are part of industries I am personally more interested in. I cannot say whether I would invest in them or not as I only hear a six-minute pitch from them, but I definitely can say that I asked for their pitch deck.
Nice work Swiss Startup Factory, excited to see what the next demo day will bring.
Also published on Medium.