Startup Weekend Switzerland Blog

Everyone Is An Entrepreneur At Heart

Over 70 motivated participants, business mentors, and entrepreneurship coaches of various backgrounds and from all corners of Switzerland joined the recent Startup Weekend Zurich event end of May. The goal is not to create a complete business but to realize the potential of what one can achieve, if you put your mind to it. And everyone on location contributed to successful 54 hours of building, measuring, and learning.

Startup Weekend Zurich Spring 2019  - Event Photography by Guelpi Guenes and Tugi Guenes

The concept and structure of every Startup Weekend event around the globe is the same. Yet no event is like the other. It is on the team of volunteer organizers how the event will be set up and on the chosen facilitator guiding the participants through the weekend. The spring edition of #SWZURICH this year took place in the facilities of the Samsung Switzerland headquarters and was generously sponsored by SIX, Hostpoint, Coca-Cola, Dieci Pizza, My Muesli, More Than Cheesecake, and Doppelleu Boxer - making sure the guests were provided with everything they needed, incl. delicious meals from Aux Carrés. The guide for this weekend was Sean Paul Shanor, an exceptional and very experienced facilitator with the energy and focus any Startup Weekend of this size needs.

After a warm welcome and a fun warm-up session, 26 ideas from corporate education platforms to unicorn underwear where pitched and voted on. The top ten ideas survived and the startuppers formed teams of four to seven people. Teams that would grow together and expand on the initial pitch to form a validated business idea they would present to a panel of judges made up of Jana Nevrika (Founder/CEO of Cofounding), Mike Baur (Investor/Founding Partner at Swiss Startup Factory), and David Bundi (RegTech at PwC Legal Switzerland).

Of course, no one can focus on work for continuous 54 hours and so the organizers invited experienced entrepreneurs and role-models for motivational speeches, like Reobert Plantak telling the story of founding and growing Crowdhouse, Patrycja Pielaszek as expert on change management and digitalization, or practical workshops, like the breathing and meditation session by Elodie Caucigh (Founder at REAL LIFE YOGA/REAL EASE).

Startup Weekend Zurich Spring 2019 - Event Photography by Guelpi Guenes and Tugi Guenes

After hours of brainstorming, research, and validation of prototypes and with some support of the many mentors at the event, all ten teams pitched great ventures. And while everyone at Startup Weekend is a winner, three projects were particularly well developed and were awarded with prices and appreciation:

  • ECO BILL - the digital-receipt solution to be more sustainable and to better organize your life
  • SMART PARK - the Airbnb for parking
  • MASTER MINDZ - a community platform and more for all SaaS founders

Congratulations to everyone!

Startup Weekend Zurich Spring 2019 - Event Photography by Guelpi Guenes and Tugi Guenes

However, this was just the beginning of the journey. Startup Weekend sets the mindset and lays the foundation for a successful company, but it is on the individual teams to build up on what they start during the event and to nurture a seed that could grow into a tree. Easier said than done but luckily there have been others in that position before who can share their insights and recommendations for the next steps. Just as Mariella Goebl, co-founder of SeeHow, who started her journey about one year ago at Startup Weekend Zurich:

Please tell us a little bit about you and your startup.

My name is Mariella Goebl and I have always been interested in how we manage resources across industries. After studying environmental economics in London, I joined Nestlé to learn more about the food industry. That’s where I realized a need for more transparency in supply chains and left the company to specifically focus on that topic. It is also what SeeHow, the startup I co-founded, is about. We are offering a blockchain based tool for large companies to make their supply chains visually accessible with near real-time impressions, photos and videos, from the original sources like farmers for instance.

Mariella Goebl - Startup Weekend Zurich Alumnus and SeeHow Co-Founder

You joined Startup Weekend in spring of 2018 - how was that experience?
It was the first time for me to join an event like that and it was a really exciting experience. I hadn’t pitched anything to a larger group before. Standing in front of the participants and trying to convince them to vote for and join the project helped me to reflect and to focus on the most important aspects of my initial idea. And the whole weekend is all about such moments, about approaching and learning how to handle new problems you face.

Today - one year later - how much has the team and the idea evolved?

Back at Startup Weekend, the initial team consisted of four other participants, of which one is my co-founder, and me. The other three couldn’t continue working on the project but some months after the event our CTO joined the team to take care of all technical aspects. This is still how we currently operate. The idea itself changed a lot too: the initial pitch was sort of a social media platform for products. It was supposed to be a B2C solution, where consumers and producers would create accounts and interact on various levels. We then moved away from the idea of a consumer-platform and meanwhile offer a tool to support companies to create transparent content to share on their communication channels.

What was the biggest challenge right after the event and what topics are you facing these days?

I was always focusing on the sustainability and supply-chain transparency aspects of the idea and it took me a while to realize that we were actually building a digital product and therefore need an experienced developer on board. Not only to manage the project but also to show that the company has the required in-house expertise. An important credential when approaching investors and potential clients. It was then as part of an accelerator program in Seoul (South Korea) where we met our current CTO. As for now, we are very much fighting against time. SeeHow is still bootstrapping and even though we have a product/market fit and interested clients, closing deals can take quite some time.

Closing comments and recommendations for the Startup Weekend audience?

Startup Weekend is a great opportunity to validate ideas and to develop the basic skills and the right mindset to take those ideas one step further. After the event, I would recommend reaching out to acceleration programs and to attend as many startup events as possible. Not only to advance and refine your product but also to grow your network and to simply not to feel alone as an entrepreneur.

Thank you very much for the great insights, Mariella!

Everyone is an entrepreneur at heart. It is not about a specific idea or background but about the courage to tackle a problem you care for. Startup Weekend is the place to take the first steps in doing so and there are multiple events throughout the year and in different cities across Switzerland you can take part in: Startup Weekend Switzerland Events.

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