Start-up event report: Founder Institute Zurich Launch – 2 Nov 16

I had the pleasure to attend this event and here is a short report and my feed-back for those who missed it. The event was branded as “Making the Leap from Employee to Entrepreneur” and was advertised as an experience-sharing session with three speakers who left their jobs to pursue their own start-up company dream…

In fact, it was the launch event of the Founder Institute Idea-Stage Accelerator and Startup Launch Program in Zurich, and it turned out to be a very exciting opportunity!

The Founder Institute is the world’s premier start-up launch programme for talented entrepreneurs. It offers a structured approach over a 4-month period to graduate as the founder of en enduring company through weekly training courses and business-building assignments, held at night, so you can keep your day job!

The Founder Institute Idea-Stage Accelerator and Start-up Launch Programme (Matic Jesenovec)

Matic is Co-founder & Growth Hacker at Entrepreneurial Wave. After a short pep talk on start-up creation, he explained the programme and its 3 pillars:

  1. People
    • Students are selected through a predictive admission test to assess your IQ but also your personal and behavioural traits and can determine whether you are entrepreneur material with 85% accuracy
    • Mentors with entrepreneur background will accompany and support the students throughout the programme, among which some famous figures from the Zurich Start-up scene like Jan Fülscher, David Bulter, Jason Low, Stijn Pieper and many other experienced entrepreneurs that have built or led technology businesses
    • Directors to lead the programme locally
  2. Teamwork
    The purpose of the programme is to facilitate connections, collaboration and experience sharing between the students, the mentors, the alumni of the programme. To align their interests a liquidity pool is created with each start-up contributing 4% of its equity and the pool returns resulting from liquidity event(s) are split as follows:

    • 15% to Founder Institute HQ to provide operating capital for the business
    • 30% to graduates of the Founder Institute programme themselves
    • 30% to the mentors to incentivize them to take an active role in each cohort’s success
    • 25% to the local directors for their efforts in organizing, building, and running the programme
  3. Process
    The programme is organised in 3 distinct steps which will be covered over the 3.5-4 months of the cycle:

    • Idea: Vision and Ideas + Customer Development
    • Business: Company & Team Formation + Product Development & Distribution
    • Launch: Go-To-Market, Bootstrapping, & Fundraising

Students meet for weekly weeknight sessions and are led through the various stages by the Directors and the Mentors, in a very pragmatic and practical way. The work commitment is between 20 and 30 hours/week (which means you can keep your day job). Students will need to pass the minimum threshold ratings set by the Mentors to stay in the programme (only 35% of the teams will make it to graduation).

The programme starts in February 2017, with registration costs of 1’500CHF (full refund if you drop out before the 3rd weekly meeting). If you are successful and get through graduation and obtain funding of more than 50k to launch your start-up, you also have to pay a 4’500CHF tuition fee.

The #Business #Angel #Investor story (Johann Schlieper)

Johann is Founder and Managing Partner of Zollikonsult. He is an experienced manager and investor with a keen focus on market and customer needs. Johann will be one of the Local Directors and he gave a short talk on his experience as a Business Angel investing in start-ups.

He pointed to the Silicon Valley way of approaching start-up investing: focus on where are the chances rather than on the risks and on how the team can pull this out.

He mentioned the usual phases through which start-ups have to go through to get funding:

  1. Love money (Friends, Family and Fools)
  2. Bootstrapping
  3. Investors rounds
    • Strategic investors who want to help you grow and success (10% of a small thing that will become 10% of a big business)
    • Financial investors (VCs) who are investing other people’s money and thinking of big money exit and how to balance a portfolio where 8 investments out of 10 will most likely fail

He invited the participants to think fast (the faster you go, the sooner you will pivot and find the right idea, as the first idea is unlikely to be the right one, unfortunately!), to take risks, to be connected and to talk to as many people as possible like other start-ups, investors, influencers, people outside your traditional network, in order to get valuable feed-back on your idea.

The #Start-up #Founder story (Timo Hahn)

After several years in the corporate life at UBS, Deutsche Bank and Zurich Insurance, Timo studied for a MBA and decided to change life and created the tinder for art – wydr is a platform for upcoming artists to showcase their art. Clients explore the art world, find their favourites and buy the ones they like most.

Timo shared a few thoughts on his “transformation” and how to approach it:

  1. Get an org chart and assign responsibilities
    Even if it means that your name is in all the boxes, it helps you identify every area that needs attention and makes sure someone in the team will be doing it. Your team needs to have done the job, before it can be outsourced externally later. If you have no knowledge or background in an area, then you have to learn.
  2. Get out of the building and talk to people
    Speak to a lot of people. Stat with 100 ideas, then refine and change ideas based on feed-back, discuss how to do it and with who to it. And it’s a good exercise to learn how to sell… The objective is that you believe in your vision and you execute it.
  3. Get your plan and document it
    Use lean canvas and document each iteration. Don’t waste your time with business plan as it will change every time you speak to a new person. Lean canvas are much more agile.
  4. Narrow down on your idea
    Expose the problem, define solutions, then narrow down to a short list.
  5. Be surprised
    Look for a business idea that is not mainstream now, but will be in 6 months
  6. Experiment before you leap
    Leverage the multiple opportunities like Start-up Weekends. Meet other want­-repreneurs at meet-ups and start-up events. Tell every one about your idea (nobody will steal your idea!) and seek feed-back. Be coachable.
  7. Think BIG
    Creating a start-up to win your time x hourly rate is not worth the effort. Think 10 times (10x).
  8. Start now
    The right time to start was yesterday!

Next steps

If you are interested to join the programme, then apply here


More reading about founding companies:




4 thoughts on “Start-up event report: Founder Institute Zurich Launch – 2 Nov 16

  1. Pingback: Start-up event report: Founding a company in Switzerland – 22 Nov 16 | Lionel Guerraz' Blog

  2. Pingback: Create your own FinTech Startup in one weekend… what does it take to turn the dream into reality? | Lionel Guerraz' Blog

  3. Pingback: My journey as a #startup #founder – step 0 – @founding | Lionel Guerraz' Blog

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