"The power of networking is so big here in the Valley" – about the 2017 Acceleration Program in Silicon Valley
Sunday 24 September, 4pm. The CEOs of the five winning start-ups AlgoTrader, ecoRobotix, 1Drop Diagnostics, OneSky and Advertima have just arrived at San Francisco International Airport. Jetlag is already kicking in but everybody is motivated nonetheless. They all have expectations about the week - but at no point did they think it would be as intensive as it was. Welcome to the Swisscom StartUp Challenge 2017!
“I mentally prepared myself for this week and set myself personal and professional objectives for those five days. I wanted to meet particular individuals as well as attend all the meetings that the Swisscom team had set up for me. My main objective was to network as much as possible and meet different investors as well as business partners. I wanted to meet a few contacts of my own, but I was mainly depending on what Swisscom had set up for me prior to my arrival,” says Luc Gervais, CEO of the start-up 1Drop Diagnostics. “I was actually very surprised by the optimism and the positive reactions to my business, which were much more promising than I had expected. Somebody even told me that I could one day have a trillion-dollar business.”
First day at the Outpost in Palo Alto for the winners. Welcome speech by Randal Fahey, Silicon Valley expert.
Silicon Valley is well known to be THE place for innovation, entrepreneurship and investments. Most of the world’s investment money is known to be there and start-ups are being created every day. The main difference between Switzerland, or Europe itself, and Silicon Valley is the speed at which things happen. Everything goes at a fast pace here so everyone has to keep up. Andy Fleury, founder of AlgoTrader , comments: “I’ve been in New York and Chicago for the last two weeks and I was really curious to get a first taste of the Valley. I have learned that start-ups are moving and growing much faster here than in Switzerland.”
After a few individual one-on-one meetings, the five winners were already starting to realize that this trip could change their entire way of doing business. Manu Lubrano, founder of OneSky , tells us more about one of his meetings: “I met a very interesting VC today that made me reconsider my business model. I was initially entirely focused on developing my prototype and doing some R&D, without even realizing that it was ready long ago. He made me realize that I now needed to focus on the business part of my company. I understood that I still needed to take one more step in order to get funded by VCs as an early stage start-up. I need to start a test pilot project and get traction. I know now that I have to get this step right.”
Aurélien Demaurex (CEO of ecoRobotix) practising his pitch in front of VCs for his one-on-one meetings.
The five start-ups had a very intense week filled with meetings, presentations, feedback sessions and preparations. They still had some time to breathe a little in the middle of the week by enjoying a sightseeing trip in San Francisco’s Magic Bus, tracing the footsteps of famous icons of San Francisco such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.
The colorful Magic Bus waiting next to the Golden Gate Park.
The main benefit of being in Silicon Valley rather than working remotely is the ability to network. Many start-ups received meeting requests during the week that had not been planned prior to their arrival. This proves the efficiency of this particular ecosystem. Aurélien Demaurex, CEO of ecoRobotix, is also well aware of this: “For me, Thursday’s highlight was the fact that new meetings were set up because of people I had met earlier in the week. The power of networking is so big here in the Valley. Meetings that were not planned before are popping up, getting me closer to my objective.”
After a few days of meetings, the last day was set aside for some presentations on US market entry and a visit to the famous Runway coworking space in downtown San Francisco. The StartUp Challenge winners took the chance to network one more time with start-ups working in the Runway space as well as finding out about market entry in the US. Iman Nahvi, CEO of Advertima, said on the last day of the trip: “Today's presentation was not only about how to enter the US market but also gave us some interesting tips about marketing and how the market works in this country. What we learned is that you cannot assume that the way we do business in Switzerland and Europe is the same all over the world. Silicon Valley just proved it by teaching us how start-ups can get things done fast and efficiently.”
The 2017 Business Acceleration Program is over – but the story for the five promising start-ups continues. That’s for sure. Stay tuned!
Another interesting article about the Business Acceleration Program in Silicon Valley by startupticker.ch here.