Mike Baur realized a few years ago that the status quo in Switzerland’s economy was never going to stay the same, so he decided he could be one of the first to bring together elements of the old banking with seeding brand new businesses. He is one of several founders of the Swiss Startup Factory in Zurich which not only invests in startups themselves, but uses a variety of coaching approaches to eliminate flaws in the startups. The SSUF does provide an effective incubator for startups, but Baur also advises that it’s no substitute for the approach that business owners have to take themselves.
There are three approaches Mike Baur says business owners should follow when getting a business off the ground. The first is that every part of starting up a business is going to take legwork from forming the legwork to its launch, and everything in between from forming a team of its leaders and meeting with investors is going to be up to you. The second is that every startup has to be ready for change. Every time one business disrupts its industry, another is sure to be right behind it, and this means every new business formed should be adaptable to these situations. And thirdly, you cannot be afraid to fail with your business because it is a similar process to taking the training wheels off a bike.
Mike Baur spent over 20 years in banking before building the business startup accelerator. He was an intern at UBS Bank, one of Switzerland’s big banks starting at age 16. He had come a long way to become a key advisor and account manager at this bank and managed the funds of several wealthy individuals. Baur might have stayed in banking until retirement had the 2008 crisis not brought changes to banking that Baur didn’t like. Baur unexpectedly quit his banking career in 2014 because he knew his knew plan to form a startup investment company now had a chance with the tech revolution making its way to Switzerland.
It was Max Meister and the Red Bull Media executives who Mike Baur met who were captivated by his plan to form an accelerator, and it was Goldback Group that became the SSUF’s main sponsor. What Baur ended up doing was running a three-month course that vetted entrants to the SSUF, and if they lasted through the testing phase, the SSUF’s network of investors then could decide whether or not they wanted to fund them. The SSUF also has an office space program that gives their startups several months free as their business gets running.