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“Running a start-up is a marathon”

A year is a long time in the life of a start-up. There is not much opportunity for reflection, but the ability to adapt to new situations is a must. Here, the StartUp Challenge winners 2017 Aurélien, Manu and Luc share a few personal insights into their start-ups’ day-to-day work. What motivates them each day, what is the biggest lesson they have learned, and how do they recharge their batteries at the end of an exhausting day?

Tessa Meier, 14 May 2018

If you were to create a new start-up today, what would you do differently and what would you do the same?

ManuBasically, I am really happy with everything that has happened so far, both good and bad. Today, I would concentrate more on the business part than on the technological part.

Aurélien: Probably a bit of both… I would probably ask for more advice from experienced people in a lot of different areas.

Luc: I would establish a public company at the beginning instead of limited liability company. This would save us unnecessary administrative work. I would work with the same great team. Working with the right people is perhaps the most important decision affecting the success and fun of a start-up.

Has there been a moment when you really wanted to throw in the towel? What motivated you to keep going?

Manu: There were moments when our competitors seemed much bigger than us, but we kept going, realised that nothing is impossible in today’s world and managed to transform this to our advantage.

Aurélien: My main motivation is the purpose of our project: contribute to make agriculture more sustainable and environmentally friendly. We want to have a positive impact on our planet. When I have downs, I try always to remember this, and it keeps my drive going.

Luc: There have been some difficult moments. I regain my motivation by talking with the team and remembering how strongly I believe in our vision to provide better, faster, personalised medical diagnostics that can improve the lives of patients.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned since starting your business?

Manu: One of the most important lessons learned was that a lot of people are interested in giving us advice. The challenging part is to understand which advice is best for us.

Aurélien: Team is everything!

Luc: Running a start-up is a marathon. It’s important to set a sustainable pace for the whole distance. Working all the time is unsustainable and detrimental. I’ve learned to take care of myself, it’s good for my business.

Starting a company is hard work – how do you recharge your batteries?

Manu: I particularly enjoy long walks and cooking, so either of these activities is an ideal way of recharging the batteries after a long, intense day at work.

Aurélien: Spending time with my wife and children, voluntary work, reading and sport (not enough…😊)

Luc: Although I work much longer hours than most people, I aim to lead a healthy lifestyle. I do a lot of outdoor sports such as skiing, mountain biking and swimming. Spending time with family and friends helps keep me grounded.

When have you really laughed at yourself?

Manu: Well, that’s funny: it happens more or less every day!

Do you want to give your start-up a boost? Then apply here by 21 May for this year’s Swisscom StartUp Challenge! 


Aurélien Demaurex, ecoRobotix CEO & co-founder

ecoRobotix develops autonomous weeding robots to reduce herbicides in row crops, resulting in lower weeding costs and benefits for human health and the environment. Weeds are identified with artificial vision and sprayed with a fast robotic arm. The machine is fully solar-powered and controlled with a smartphone.

Manu Lubrano, Involi CEO & co-founder

Involi builds infrastructure in preparation for tomorrow’s drone revolution, ensuring drones’ safe integration into today’s aviation world. It offers an online platform which gathers data from a network of scaled-down control towers, enabling virtually anybody to see surrounding air traffic and to hold intelligent tools for low-risk flight plans, automatic avoidance strategies and privacy control.

Luc Gervais, 1Drop Diagnostics CEO & co-founder

1Drop Diagnostics saves lives through better and faster portable medical diagnostics. It enables personalised healthcare through actionable health information that is accessible to anyone at any time. The device detects multiple biomarkers from a single drop of blood immediately in front of the patient. It thereby facilitates the early detection, prevention and management of disease.