A group of young innovators were recently taken to Feldschlösschen, a popular brewing company in Switzerland where they were part of a competition in creating the best beer hack. These innovators were from the Swiss Startup Factory, an organization that brings ideas to life and turns them into disruptive businesses. Also in attendance at the brewery was SSUF cofounder and chairman Mike Baur, a man who has helped fuel Switzerland’s venture capital scene. The beer hack event was all about making beer more accessible and using app platforms to simplify marketing and buying beer. There were nine teams of developers total in the hack and three winners in the digital, product and experience categories, but one of the feature winners was the team that developed “U-Beer,” an app that allows you to order beer on demand with very fast delivery.
Banking was once one of the top career choices of young men in Switzerland. Its promise of high pay and living the high life were why Mike Baur chose to go into it. A human resources manager at UBS, the bank he started at met with him when he first entered the apprenticeship program. He told Baur that he just needed to meet the written goals on a chart, and he would end up retiring comfortably. Baur did reach high status in banking later as a director at Clariden Leu, but he retired early because he had other plans. Plus being a banker had become more of a chore with long work hours instead of an enjoyable occupation.
Mike Baur believed there was so much more out there, especially with mobile technology and brand new companies the likes of which had never been seen before now coming into being. That led him to first starting ThinkReloaded and later meeting with executives from Goldback Group and Red Bull Media to form the SSUF. The SSUF has been especially invested in the internet of things and high tech startup ideas, but they also have a diverse range of financial service and auto industry ideas in their portfolio. The sessions of the SSUF last for three months, and during that time entrepreneurs learn how to make pitches and form business plans out of raw ideas. Entrepreneurs who can make it through those three months of rigorous tests can get office space for their companies that they’ll have rent-free and complete with IT infrastructure.