CEO Day: The centre of the Swiss start-up world

24.10.2014 12:25

For one day the centre of the Swiss start-up world was Berne. At the CEO Day on Wednesday a record number of entrepreneurs, investors, supporters and representatives of industrial companies gathered at the Stade de Suisse.

“The best CEO day ever” was the comment of quite a few participants at the end of the day. CEO Day always used to be a very intensive day. But the 11th event was really something special.

Some months ago when the board of CTI Invest decided to charge a fee the organizers were concerned because they expected to have fewer participants. However this fear turned out to be wrong. A record number of entrepreneurs, investors, supporters and representatives of industrial companies gathered at Berne and the fee seemed to motivate all of them to be more active during the day. This was not only true for everything taking place at the Stade de Suisse itself but also for social media. The 11th CEO Day was the first that really left its mark on Twitter and Facebook.

A bunch of innovations
Important reasons for the huge success were all the innovations: The new app facilitated networking and made the final of the pitching competition truly interactive and exciting. To start the event with the pitches of investors made sense because the start-ups had the chance to get in touch with the investors during the whole day. The pitch training for the start-ups improved the quality of the presentations. And the keynotes by experienced entrepreneurs contained important insights for the audience.

The first element of the day after the introduction was “Investors on stage”. It was impressive to see the broad range of organisations ranging from regional business angel clubs to international VCs. Some new players were there too, for example the Swiss ICT Investor Club SICTIC or the Technology Fund managed by South Pole and Emerald Ventures. And some players were at the CEO Day for the first time such as Speedinvest. Profiles of the investors can be found in the Swiss Venture Guide which was published at the CEO Day too.

Insights from entrepreneurs
Also very interesting were the keynotes of InSphero CEO Jan Lichtenberg and serial entrepreneur Jean-Marc Wismer (Sensimed, KB Medical). Lichtenberg talked about the change going on at a fast growing company like InSphero and said that the company should not be perceived as a start-up any longer. Asked what he would do different if he had the chance to build up a company again he said that he would hire sales people earlier as he did.

Jean-Marc Wismer gave a lot of insights based on his experience as CEO and as a coach of start-ups. Here we just mention one advice that was not only very valuable but also a little bit surprising for the audience. Wismer recommend to invest quite a lot of time in the search for board members. He said: “You can fire an employee who not performs, but if you have a board member who not performs you really have a problem.”

CUTISS, Hoosh and Versantis win pitching competition
Last official element of the day was the final of the pitching competition. The competition ended with a surprise: a very young project called CUTISS really vowed the audience. CUTISS is working on a technology for bioengineering large areas of skin. They will be used for large wounds and – especially remarkable - this skin will not scar. CUTISS was one of the three winners. The other two were better known to the audience: Hoosh and Versantis. In addition three runners up were selected: Samantree, Insightness, Goodwall. A list of all the presenting start-ups can be found on the website of CEO Day.

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