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As Switzerland started seeing things change in 2008 with the financial crisis reaching even the halls of their fortified banks, the call started echoing to start moving away from just safe business investments and to take a risk on the new and the unknown coming in part from President Johann Schneider-Ammann, and being followed by businessman Mike Baur. Baur believes there are many ideas for brand new tech businesses circulating in Switzerland’s universities and other colleges around Europe, but it’s just a matter of being willing to believe in them and take the risks. But he’s working to get these businesses off the ground and to do so rapidly through an accelerator known as the Swiss Startup Factory. This accelerator has not only a lot of pitch and demonstration sessions, but also ongoing coaching and giving entrepreneurs a better understanding of selling their business.

 

Mike Baur originally saw his path to lifetime success going through banking as it was the most popular way to get rich at the time. He was good with numbers and started out learning the aspects of bank management as an apprentice at UBS while only 16 years old. He was already involved in advising clients in his 20s and came to know some of Switzerland’s wealthiest investors. Baur was promoted several times at UBS until he was almost an executive, but in 2008 things changed as the financial crisis hit UBS. Baur left for another big bank, Clariden Leu where he once again became a prominent manager. But in 2014 he stepped down permanently and decided it was time to enter the unknown.

 

Other people had also left their previous positions in banking when Baur did including Max Meister and Oliver Walzer who also saw a big opportunity to invest in young people and start bringing about completely new companies to Switzerland. What Baur understood was that many ideas and beginning businesses just needed to develop sustainable plans and be able to connect with capital suppliers, so that’s when he, Meister and Walzer decided to build this kind of network at the Swiss Startup Factory through a partnership with Goldback Group and Fintech Fusion. While many people apply to get to the SSUF’s 3-month accelerator program, not too many are admitted and out of those admitted there are few finalists who make it to the SSUF portfolio. But those who do are also given free office space and resources to launch their companies.

 

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