“Our summit is the place to be if you want to know what's happening in emerging countries”

Stefan Kyora

17.02.2016 16:26

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Seedstars Summit

At Seedstars Summit, taking place in Lausanne on 3 March, 55+ startups from emerging tech hubs around the world compete for equity investment of up to $1million. In addition, participants can learn everything about emerging markets in breakout sessions, panel discussions and specialized workshops. We asked Seedstars CEO Alisee de Tonnac what makes the event interesting for Swiss start-ups.  

Why should Swiss startup founders attend the Seedstars Summit?
Alisee de Tonnac: First, the Seedstars Summit is an amazing opportunity to get in contact with all the players of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Connecting people is part of our mission and the summit is built in a way to foster interaction between attendees. Through our network app or during coffee breaks and time slots dedicated to networking, Swiss startup founders can meet and easily approach relevant investors, mentors and potential clients. 

Furthermore, by joining the Seedstars Summit, the swiss entrepreneurs will have access to various workshops and inspiring talks from successful entrepreneurs, investors & corporate executives. The Summit fosters knowledge transfer as well as sharing insights about various sectors and regions in the world.

Finally, it is definitely the place to be if you want to know what's happening in emerging countries and if you are considering to scale in these markets as they are increasingly connected and experiencing rapid urbanization, hence they offer virtually billions of possibilities in term of consuming, innovation, market scales, company creation and great talents.

What will be the highlights of the event – apart from the competition?
Besides the competition, whereby the winner of Seedstars World 2015 will be named and win up to USD 500k in investment, we are proud to announce a unique agenda under the theme Billions. Why Billions ? Because we want our participants to get a sense of the billions of consumers out there. The billions of opportunities, the unicorns (companies that have soared to a USD 1 billion valuation or higher, based on fundraising) that are up-and-coming in China & Brazil and finally the billions of citizens that can be reached thanks to technology.

The day will start with specific workshops to discuss government best practices when it comes to building virtuous entrepreneurial frameworks and learn from the investors on how to invest in these markets. We're also excited to discuss about the next technology leapfrogs that will come from emerging and developing markets in industries such as digital health, education or energy. Inspiring speakers such as Nina Teng, VP of Social Affair at Grab, the first unicorn of Malaysia or Fabio Cannavale, CEO of lasminute.com group will share their vision about the upcoming opportunities in emerging markets. We've also built impactful partnerships with top industry leaders in the travel & space sector (Inmarsat, AP-Swiss, lastminute.com group) that will discuss the latest trends & award a prize (equity/grant) to the top startups in their industries.

For Swiss start-ups you are organising an Uberpitch event in Lausanne before the summit. What is the event about?

Indeed, together with Uber we are organising a pitching contest on February 25th, 2016 at the EPFL in Lausanne. Entrepreneurs can request for a ten minutes free ride (by selecting the ‘UberPITCH’ option on the app) and share it with a distinguished investor to pitch their big idea. We love the concept that an entrepreneur will be pitching his idea in the backseat of car. We are actually collaborating with Uber around the world and have organised several Uber pitches such as in Nigeria & Singapore. The EPFL campus is an area crowded with promising startups, so it’s just the right place to do this in Switzerland. Also, being a swiss company, it was important for us to support and accelerate the startup ecosystem locally. We want to be part of its growth!

The selection process for the Seedstars competition is finished. What attracted your attention during the selection process?

Everyday is surprising and inspiring when you work with entrepreneurs from emerging markets. I was especially impressed by three things.

  • First, emerging markets are no longer hubs of low cost manufacturing and unskilled labor. They are already transforming into centres of innovation. Despite unfavourable conditions, talented and inspired entrepreneurs manage to break the traditional patterns and create innovative technologies, dedicated to improving people's lives. With the skilled and talented people already there, often all these regions need is a better access to resources, that have previously been scarce.
  • Second, I have realized that success does not always come from disruptive technology, but in the way we tap into consumers habits and needs. Money, information, health services can be transferred using simple mobile phones, revolutionizing the quality of life for billions of people.
  • Third, Women entrepreneurs are rising. The statistics are still low with an average of 15% Women co-Founders or CEOs but I believe this number is getting better and better and women are rising from hubs that I would have least expected.

How much participants do you expect?
The event is expecting around 800 participants from over +70 countries and with different profiles. We target entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, HNWIs, directors of accelerators/incubators, corporate executives, business angels, government officials, enthusiastic students, and journalists, which are all inspired by innovation, entrepreneurship, emerging markets and technology.

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