189 episodes

The Swisspreneur Show is a podcast series of in-depth, candid conversations with some of Switzerland’s most successful founders, business leaders and innovators. By getting to the heart of these leaders’ stories - their successes, their failures, their must-have advice and greatest regrets - we hope to both inspire and guide the next generation of Swiss entrepreneurs. Each episode deconstructs and showcases one person’s personal and professional background and provides advice and recommendations for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in Switzerland.

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The Swisspreneur Show is a podcast series of in-depth, candid conversations with some of Switzerland’s most successful founders, business leaders and innovators. By getting to the heart of these leaders’ stories - their successes, their failures, their must-have advice and greatest regrets - we hope to both inspire and guide the next generation of Swiss entrepreneurs. Each episode deconstructs and showcases one person’s personal and professional background and provides advice and recommendations for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in Switzerland.

    EP #188 - Laurent Decrue: Mastering Product Development

    EP #188 - Laurent Decrue: Mastering Product Development

    Timestamps:

    0:55 - Do Europeans take way too long to launch?

    7:00 - Always start from a problem

    12:08 - What changes from MVP to the growth stage?

    23:18 - The constant cycle of product development

    30:59 - What's nearshoring?



    About Laurent Decrue

    Laurent Decrue is the co-founder of the moving company MOVU and the software company Holycode, and is currently also the CEO at Bexio. At Holycode, Laurent turns people's product dreams into reality, so there's no process he knows more intimately than product development. The company headquarters are in Serbia — this is called nearshoring: outsourcing your operations to another country, but one that is nearby and usually even in the same time-zone.

    Is there a set framework for product development?

    No: it depends on the stage. But if there's something Laurent can recommend, it's that before you start developing, you should create a business canvas. Think about what a prototype could look like, especially a UX prototype that is clickable. Next you should figure out the smallest possible version of it  — something that can be cooked up in 3 weeks. Even if it works, you'll inevitably end up throwing it away because you need to build a bigger version, but having built it in the first place allows you to decide whether a bigger version is worth it.

    Similarly, it's best not to invest in a crazily complex back-end architecture right away. Build something that works and have your customers test it and give you feedback — even if they do so in a simple spreadsheet.

    Taking inspiration from The Lean Startup, Laurent talked about the 2 hypothesis you need to prove:

    - Value hypothesis: are people willing to spend money/time interacting with your tool?

    - Growth hypothesis: is it scalable? It's possible that a very good product is not actually scalable. At this stage,  marketing, sales and process optimization become cruzial.

    The age-old debate: Scrum or Kanban?

    Laurent recommends Kanban for really creative solutions. This tool is all about making sure you don't have more than one or two tasks in each phase of the process, and it also really helps you keep focus.

    On the other hand, Laurent sees the utility of Scrum for good quality, fast results.



    Memorable Quotes: 

    "Don't invest in a crazily complex backend architecture before you've actually verified that this is the right architecture to build."



    If you'd like to listen to our previous episode with Laurent, click here.

    Don't forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there's no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!

    • 40 min
    EP #187 - Laurent Decrue: The Highs And Lows Of MOVU

    EP #187 - Laurent Decrue: The Highs And Lows Of MOVU

    Timestamps:

    5:10 - The DeinDeal mafia

    18:53 - The biggest mistakes at MOVU

    23:40 - Going bankrupt

    28:07 - Saying no to a lot of money

    42:34 - Why stay at MOVU



    About Laurent Decrue

    Laurent Decrue is the co-founder of the moving company MOVU and the software company Holycode, and is currently also the CEO at Bexio.

    He grew up with a headstrong grandfather who pressured him to take a corporate job at UBS. Despite getting along well with the people there, his problem with authority made UBS too stifling an environment for his entrepreneurial spirit. When he got layed off due to the financial crisis, he decided to join DeinDeal.

    Laurent thinks there were two main reasons for DeinDeal's "mafia status":

    - It was an unprecedentedly fast growing company, which attracted a certain type of personality;

    - It was a very big company overall, which, statistically, means spin-offs are bound to happen.

    Unfortunately he suffered a small burnout during his time at DeinDeal, which motivated him to take a break from working before starting his own ventures. During this break he got his masters' degree. He never received any professional help to overcome the effects of his burnout, which in hindsight seems to him like poor decision making. He also feels a certain resentment towards the people he'd been working for, for not having helped him spot the warning signs. Laurent feels guilty himself about not having been able to do this either with two of his own employees later on.

    The idea for MOVU came from his own frustration at the slowness of the existing moving services. Despite the company's success, they also underwent a series of challenges:

    - From the beginning they knew they wanted to develop a subscription model around a cleaning service, but it took them so long to get to it that by the time that they did, another company had already jumped on the bandwagon and was having great success;

    - Their original CTO left, and it was difficult to make sure he got fair compensation: they ended up assigning some of his shares to the new CTO and buying out some of his shares as well;

    - More than once they neared bankruptcy, as investment rounds often hinged on a few yes's and no's. This was particularly nerve-wrecking considering some of the people in the MOVU team were parents;

    - They received a very generous offer for MOVU early on but declined it, because it did not make strategic sense. They risked a lot to play the long game, but it ended up paying off.

    In 2016 Helvetia acquired Moneypark. This let Laurent know that other insurance companies would soon start making investments, and so he made sure to get in contact with the lot of them. MOVU eventually got sold to Baloise.

    Simultaneously to creating MOVU, he also founded Holycode, which provides nearshoring services. He remains there as a board member, and has also since 2020 been active as the CEO of Bexio, after Jeremias Meier stepped down from the job.



    Resources Mentioned:

    Startup CEO, by Matt Blumberg

    The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries

    Zero To One, by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

    • 1 hr 10 min
    EP #186 - Peter Kempin & Patrick Arnold: Taxes And The Young Startup Founder

    EP #186 - Peter Kempin & Patrick Arnold: Taxes And The Young Startup Founder

    Timestamps:

    1:03 - Young founders and taxes

    9:39 - Cantons and tax advantages

    24:00 - The wealth tax burden

    32:19 - Employee participation plans

    40:33 - Tax pitfalls in structuring a sale



    About Peter Kempin and Patrick Arnold

    Peter Kempin is a Team Head of Executives & Entrepreneurs at UBS, where he has been working for the past 15 years. Patrick Arnold is a tax expert at UBS and certified financial planner.

    Decades in the industry have taught Peter and Patrick that young founders don't think much about taxes. They're heavily focused on their business idea, and taxes aren't a very sexy topic to begin with. But they are nonetheless a crucial step of every business journey.

    The first thing you should concern yourself with is the business plan:

    - Take into consideration the liquidity needs of the company. This is the basis for your financial requirements: is it possible for you to bootstrap the business and "keep a large portion of the cake" or if there is a need to bring on investors in order to grow the company?

    - If you have a business plan for your company, you need one for your personal life as well. How much money can you contribute to your own business? Is it possible to draw pension assets? Do you want to? Should you have a private, non-touchable reserve?

    - Keep in mind the founders' financial situation. Do they all have low fixed costs, which will allow you to bootstrap and keep costs and income low? Or do some of them have families already, and aren't able to take on as much risk?

    Profit taxes vary from 12-20% depending on the canton. At the beginning of a company, when you haven't broken even because you're not even profitable yet, tax benefits aren't really on your mind — so founders usually choose a domicile in the geographical zone most relevant to their business. But you should take into consideration that the corporate tax reform gives you different advantages/disadvantages depending on the canton you choose, so choose wisely. But even if you make the wrong decision, you can always change domicile later on.

    Many founders wonder whether they should set up an individual company or a corporate one. Here are some differences to consider:

    - If you're running an individual company, you're taxed on your business profit with the income tax, together with all the other private factors you have: rental income, investment income, etc... But if you're running a corporate company, you're taxed with profit taxes. The income tax only applies if you draw a salary.

    - If you have a corporate company and you sell it, you can benefit from tax free capital gains. If you sell an individual company, it's fully taxed.



    Memorable Quotes:

    "Becoming an entrepreneur means tapping into your savings. It should not be done lightly."



    If you would like to listen to the two previous parts of this UBS co-production, check out our conversations with Lukas Reinhardt and Alexander Curiger.

    Don't forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there's no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!

    • 47 min
    EP #185 - Christian Reiter: Influencer Marketing In Switzerland

    EP #185 - Christian Reiter: Influencer Marketing In Switzerland

    Timestamps:

    1:05 - Getting started in the agency business

    7:07 - Thinking about monetization

    11:09 - Evaluating an exit scenario

    28:26 - Co-founder chemistry

    45:06 - Accidentally becoming CEO



    About Christian Reiter

    Christian Reiter is a co-founder and board member at Kingfluencers, the leading Swiss social influence agency. After getting his bachelor's degree in Computer Science from ETH, he created a number of ventures, most notably Hitz Dev/Bitspin and Panamove, before building Kingfluencers.

    Hitz Dev was founded during Christian's university studies, as a result of a project done in collaboration with SBB. As it transitioned from an agency business to a product-centered business (more specifically, an android app), Hitz Dev became Bitspin, and got acquired by Google in 2014.

    Then in 2015 he created the personal trainer app Panamove, but ended up shutting it down in less than a year. Though the company was able to secure revenue after 2 months, there were a few aspects of the core business model which the team was never able to figure out, which hindered the sustainability of the whole endeavour. Christian does not identify with the Swiss fear of failure: he thinks if you need to fail, fail fast — so instead of persisting with Panamove for years and years, he let it go.

    In 2016 he became interested in influencer marketing and decided to embark on a new venture: Kingfluencers. Their business model was simple: they had influencers, and they had customers. The difficulty lay in execution, since the field was completely new to Christian — and it was also relatively new to Switzerland, so Kingfluencers needed to become a market educator. Nowadays this market has grown to become relatively big.

    In 2020 Christian stepped down from his CEO role and became a board member, which, according to him, was not very hard, since he never wished to be CEO in the first place. His core motivation was to build something which would stand on its own feet, grow and evolve — and this development cannot take place if people refuse to have their roles change.



    Memorable Quotes:

    "If it's not working, don't invest another 3 years into it. Move on to something new."



    Resources Mentioned:

    Techcrunch



    To listen to more episodes on digital marketing, check out our conversation with Lukas Stuber.

    Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!

    • 1 hr 3 min
    EP #184 - Jon Brezinski: Disrupting The Vending Machine Market

    EP #184 - Jon Brezinski: Disrupting The Vending Machine Market

    Timestamps:

    1:00 - From the US to Engelberg

    14:30 - The vending machine market

    20:56 - A disruptive business model

    32:51 - Who stands in the way of disruption?

    44:45 - Thinking about the exit



    About Jon Brezinski

    Jon Brezinski is the co-founder and CEO at Invenda, a company disrupting the machine industry with connected smart technology. Invenda offers smart vending machines, digital signage and smart fridges, as well as business intelligence, customization and integration services. Their partners include Microsoft and Intel. Jon comes originally from the U.S., having studied Information Systems at the University of North Carolina.

    His first job after college was at a startup. Experiencing a work environment where everybody had a fixed job but also evolving responsibilities showed Jon that this was the path for him.

    In 2016 he founded Invenda, having originally been inspired by a trip to Philadelphia, where he had been working on a ticket machine project. Their MVP provided clients with a 20-80% sales increase, which is no wonder: Invenda machines have shopping carts, allowing customers to buy several products at a time, which means that for every product sold by traditional vending machines, Invenda sells 4. In the first 3 years, Invenda only invested 3% of its budget on sales and marketing, which means they ended up with a pretty solid and attractive product — but they are now ready to start shifting their budget priorities.

    Even though the vending machine market is quite large (with over 15m of these machines all over the world), Jon is interested in a accessing markets whose products have not traditionally been sold by vending machines, like socks or luxury chocolate.

    Jon thinks one of the biggest challenges startups face is knowing which opportunities are worth pursuing, since there's no shortage of them. But how do you maintain the right focus?

    - Try to keep things fun. Choose things that your team would find interesting;

    - Use market research from your core customers;

    - Consult your partners.

    Jon is also a big proponent of hiring for culture and not skills. People can learn almost anything, and having someone "rock the boat" is dangerous. Don't get blindsided by someone's beautiful CV. He also tells his employees that every conversation they have should be a job interview, since finding the right people is an ongoing process that everyone can participate in.

    Invenda has had a couple of companies approach them about exit scenarios but thus far none seemed like the right fit. Jon also doesn't feel like Invenda is done with its journey yet.



    Memorable Quotes: 

    "One of our main challenges as a startup is to figure out which opportunities are worth pursuing."

    "As a founder I have a lot of weird problems I never expected to have and which none of my friends can relate to."

    "I think I'm the only person I know who goes to board meetings and has fun."



    Resources Mentioned:

    ReMarkable 2



    Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!

    • 49 min
    EP #183 - Gina Domanig: The O.G. Cleantech Fund

    EP #183 - Gina Domanig: The O.G. Cleantech Fund

    Timestamps:

    1:02 - How studying abroad can change your life

    5:56 - How is an investor trained?

    19:47 - How an investor finds companies

    25:55 - How to lose an investor's trust

    48:20 - Attracting institutional investors



    About Gina Domanig

    Gina Domanig is a managing partner at Emerald Technology Ventures, a globally recognized investment and venture capital firm with a focus on cleantech. Before becoming an investor, Gina spent 10 years working at Sulzer as head of M&A, where she met her Swiss husband. Gina is originally from the U.S. but has since given up her U.S. citizenship and has been living in Switzerland for several decades.

    In the early 2000s, Gina left Sulzer and joined the cleantech fund Emerald Technology Ventures, because she wanted a job which combined strategy/transactions with something she could believe in.

    During their early days they made several mistakes:

    - They invested in early stage, capital intensive ventures (which, during the dot com crash, seemed like "real" investments);

    - They approved/rejected investment deals by voting yes/no, which turned out to be too reductionistic: too many deals were progressing which partners were not really that excited about. Nowadays they give deals a score of 1-5 and the deal must have an average score of 4 to pass.

    Two decades in the cleantech space have taught Gina that industrial incumbents really have the power to block innovation — however, she feels we are now at a tipping point where there's finally enough regulatory and consumer pressure for industrial incumbents to start looking for alternatives. But naturally, they always look for a way to shift the blame to some other sector (for instance, plastic producers blame waste managers, and vice versa).



    Memorable Quotes:

    "Just because you believe something should happen doesn't mean it's going to. Even if all of your analysis points towards that conclusion."

    "An investor needs to know that management teams tend to be unbelievably optimistic."

    "Look forward with confidence and back without regrets."



    Resources Mentioned:

    Leadership is Language, by L. David Marquet

    Humour, Seriously, by Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas



    To listen to more episodes on VC funds, check out our conversation with Aleksandra Laska.

    Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!

    • 1 hr 17 min

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