Former Banker Supports Young Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups
Despite 20 years of experience as a private Swiss banker, including as an Executive Board Member, Mike Bauer decided his passion lay with helping young entrepreneurs launch digital start-up companies. Therefore, he founded Swiss Start Up Factory AG in 2014 as an incubator to support innovation in Switzerland.
He told Founder Stories that private banking is very traditional, but he is “not such a traditional person.” After twenty years as a banker, he felt ready to do something “crazy.” Plus, his spirit has an entrepreneur could be too pushy for the banking industry. He chose the word “factory” as part of the company’s name because he wanted to manufacture new Swiss companies using a defined process.
One reason he attributes to his success is that he and the other two co-founders are fully invested. They want the companies they let into their program to succeed because they are looking to build their personal wealth as well. He also says they are independent. They do not have to deal with the politics of working around particular large stakeholders or cantons. Apparently that is not the typical situation in Switzerland.
However, Mike Baur says, Switzerland is the most innovative country in the world, so he never understood why there are not more new Swiss start-up companies. According to his analysis and observation, young Swiss are better at innovating than actually executing, doing the work necessary to found and run new companies, but that’s the opportunity he wants to take advantage of. He also says some Swiss work against each other instead of cooperating, and identified investors as another problem. However, he says, there are investors ready to invest in start-up companies that demonstrate the professionalism. Switzerland does have money that could go into early stage companies.
The company runs a three-month long accelerator program. That provides a range of services such as mentoring, coaching, accounting, office space and networking with other businesses and with investors around the world. Early in 2016, Swiss Start Up Factory partnered with Goldbach Group for the accelerator program. Bauer is also co-founder and Director of the Swiss Startup Association. That group works to improve the Swiss regulatory, legal and tax environment for early stage companies. He earned an MBA from the University of Rochester in New York and an Executive MBA from the University of Berne.
Their active startups now include: Freeling, Uptile, Taskbase, Pure Swiss Air, WeaVR and upScale.