Encouraging young people to put their tech skills to use in the disruptive apps markets is happening everywhere, but it may soon be the big breakthrough in Switzerland as the nation is transitioning from banking to a new economy. Mike Baur is a Swiss business leader who is pursuing this niche with his latest endeavors, and it’s the reason why he’s started up the Swiss Startup Factory (SSUF). The SSUF is far more than just your typical investment firm. It’s a hands-on training facility that actually brings young entrepreneurs’ ideas to life within a matter of months, and it’s only been around for a few years.
Not everyone can simply join the SSUF; the applicants are vetted to make sure that their ideas can withstand the barrage of competition and the difficulty it takes to get them going. The SSUF gets the entrepreneurs’ ideas going into business through a 3 month training program which includes physical teamwork exercises, demonstrations to potential investors about what the business will do, and eventually bringing the business to life using the appropriate tools that the SSUF provides. Baur has gotten enthusiastic about this accelerator because he believes great businesses don’t need the long wait and red tape to cut through to be successful.
But just why has going into business accelerator investing become so important to Baur? Because he knows that in a changing world you cannot just simply keep pushing the traditional business paths and believe that they’ll continue to be successful when demographics are changing. This is a lesson he’s learned from his previous career in Swiss banking and the reason he chose to leave it.
Banking in Switzerland has been the foundation of its economy, and owning a large bank or even working for one has often been the biggest badge of honor in this country. Unlike in the US where becoming an investment banker or portfolio manager happens after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree, in Switzerland it happens through apprenticeship during the teen years. That’s where Baur started at UBS where he was promoted from apprentice to accounts manager, and he even managed wealthy client portfolios. He left UBS when the 2008 crisis occurred and joined Clariden Leu for a few years, but in the coming years after it was purchased by Credit Suisse, Baur left this bank due to internal conflicts and saw an opportunity to join the tech startup industry. Most people thought it was crazy at the time, but thus far Baur’s SSUF has seen great ROIs.