Swisscom Startup Challenge: Insights, Contacts and an Investment

21.10.2014 14:32

The five start-ups that were selected for the Swisscom Start-up Challenge are back from the Silicon Valley. It was an intensive and successful week.

ScanTrust (Lausanne), eSMART (Ecublens), Geosatis (Lausanne), Hoosh (Lugano) and CashSentinel (Yverdon-les-Bains) are the winners of this year's Swisscom Startup Challenge award. The five companies spent last week in California's Silicon Valley, where they attended a Swisscom-tailored mentoring programme. It was an impressive week. Sylvain Bertolus, CEO CashSentinel, told startupticker: “It felt like one week in the valley is like 6 months back home in terms of business development.”

Important new contacts
CashSentinel is an escrow service aimed at improving security for people buying and selling used cars. Large sums of money can be transferred securely via mobile phone. The most important parts of the journey for CashSentinel’s CEO were meetings with potential business partners. Bertolus said: “I had the opportunity to meet some leading companies and personalities in my domain (fintech), and received extremely valuable feedback regarding the value of our product and expansion plan. Other meetings have yielded some potential future partnerships which will now be looked into more deeply.”

The same is true for Rikke Blix Hagemann, CEO of Hoosh: “My meetings with Ebay and with Oracle have great potential and follow-up meetings are already in the book. In addition we have 5 offers in the making for potential new clients of significant size in Silicon Valley - Great trip with great value.”  

Hoosh Technology offers a marketing intelligence service that provides insight to almost any industry across any market in the world. Based on its advanced and qualitative Visibility Score Hoosh provides unique on-the-fly insights about online advertising performance, competitors, market position, and eventually marketing budgets - at a fraction of the price of traditional marketing intelligence.

Impressive culture
Although both entrepreneurs came well prepared to the Valley they were deeply impressed by the openness and the vibrant start-up culture. Rikke Blix Hagemann comments: “It was truly amazing to experience the positive attitude and open mind towards our products and offering. We might be a small start-up, but they all really value the potential innovation coming from start-ups like us, so the giants take their time to listen and get impressed from what we can offer.”

And Sylvain Bertolus was fascinated by the entrepreneurs that were just everywhere: “Meeting "startupers" outside of a start-up venue in Switzerland is a rare event. In the valley, it's the opposite: everyone here knows what a start-up is, how it works, what their role, risk and rewards can be when working at a start-up. Stopping by a cafe? More than half the customers are working on software, slides or both. Grabbing a bite from a local restaurant? Your neighbour is receiving coaching from an investor over lunch.”

Swisscom invests in Geosatis
For one of the five Swiss start-ups the week was particularly successful. Geosatis announced that the Swisscom Team has decided to invest in the company. Detail will follow in a press release tomorrow. The goal of Geosatis is that by using electronic, GPS-based monitoring the social reintegration of non-violent criminals can be made easier, more humane and cheaper. The company provides all the products needed for this: from the electronic tag to the monitoring software to the app. The offender can remain in his familiar living environment, thus saving on prison costs.

Another review of the trip by Christian Neuhaus was published on the Swisscom ICT blog.

About the Swisscom Startup Challenge
As part of the Early Stage Fund, Swisscom and venturelab are looking for five high-flyers from the ICT, media and cleantech sectors to attend a mentoring programme in Silicon Valley, where an investment by and partnership with Swisscom will be evaluated. The young entrepreneurs will have a unique opportunity to have their project thoroughly scrutinised by qualified industry experts and venture capitalists. They will also gain access to know-how and benefit from the network of the Swisscom’s outpost in Silicon Valley.

The following awaits the start-ups in Palo Alto:

  • Individual acceleration programme, tailor-made for the participants
  • Access to the broad network of Swisscom’s outpost in Silicon Valley
  • Mentoring and challenging by Swisscom Ventures, Venturelab and serial entrepreneurs
  • Meetings with potential customers, partners and investors
  • Inspiration and trend-scouting in the most important location for the IT and high-tech industry
  • Evaluation of business cooperation with Swisscom
  • Evaluation of an investment by Swisscom Ventures
  • Sharing of ideas with like-minded people and an unforgettable time in Palo Alto
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Fascinating technology