Nexus

We are very happy to announce that we published the second Nexus Newsletter today!

The FHNW International Student Projects Insight ChinaFocus IndiaconnectUS, and exploreASEAN have created a corporate newsletter to share the highlights of the onsite seminar.

Fifteen years ago, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) pioneered with International Student Projects (ISP). The ISPs are organised by students for students, which enables more students than ever to travel abroad and get first-hand experiences as well as insights in what we did this year.

We hope you will enjoy reading through the Nexus Newsletter.

San Francisco – Day 6

Ecosystem Venture

On our last day in San Francisco connectUS went to visit Ecosystem Venture. Alexander Fries welcomed the delegation in Tim Draps Hero City where Ecosystem Ventures as well as other companies are located. Alexander is a Swiss citizen from Davos who founded and cofounded several companies. He explained to the delegation the different stages of investment when a company at series A or B and what that means for an investor.

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Secondly he introduced the different sources for funds you can approach namely; Microfunds, Angel Investors, Accelerators or Crowdfunding. Ecosystem Venture focuses on seed or early stage investments.

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Finally he listed 81 facts of what happens to entrepreneurs if they start a company and showed us the biggest mistakes that can kill a start up.

During the onsite trip we had the chance to listen to a big variety of entrepreneurs working in different fields. Once again it was very interesting to hear another perspective and Alexanders honesty was very refreshing.

Google

Afterwards we went to the Google visitor center where we explored its campus by bike.

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Intel

The last stop of the day was the Intel Museum where we got an isight about the development of computers.

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San Francisco – Day 5

Indiegogo

This morning the first stop of day five in San Francisco was at the headquarter of Indiegogo, an international crowdfunding website. Indiegogo is one of the first companies that offered crowdfunding that allows people to fund money for a start-up business by opening your idea to a community through its platform.

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Udayan welcomed us in Indiegogos headquarters and told us the story behind Indiegogo with a focus on the basics of a successful campaign and explained the fundraising mechanism. The company has a global audience and is present in 204 different countries that do business through Indiegogo. Their believe is that the crowd should be the one that decide which innovative ideas are going to be supported with funds, instead of Venture Capitalists.

The reason why a startup should consider Indiegogo as a platform to raise money is due to the possibiliy of global campaigns, further is Indiegogo open for everyone in the sense that ther is no application process, and everyone can launch an idea on its platform. And last but not least the company has a strong customer focus and therefore it is open and transparent.

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For answering the question why a start up should regard crowdfunding as an option gives Indiegogo five reasons. It is possible to validate a market, data can be captured and the three most important things are that on this platforms a direct interaction with customers take place, identities can be early adopted and money can be raised. They are very transparent about the data they capture. Startups have fast and direct access to all the data of their customers, which helps them to tailor its approach and identify their target audience.

Indiegogo offers different models of campaigns for different companies. The largest amount raised on Indiegogo was 12 million dollars.

Further Udayan talked about the importance of the 4 P’s or more generally the marketing mix, why it should be set before starting fundraising on a crowdfunding platform and talked about the importance of E-Mail marketing that brings in the beginning 20% more funding than for example Social Media Marketing.

After his presentation Udayan showed us around Indiegogos headquarters.

Zynga

In the afternoon the connectUS delegation went to Zynga an American provider of social video game services which was founded in 2007. Kayleigh, responsible for university relations,  warmly welcomed us in the impressive and colorful lobby of Zyngas headquarter.

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Zyngas office is really colorful designed and each part has its own motto. A big concern of Zynga is that their 1000 employees have a good work life balance therefore the company offers  free food, happy hour and spaces to relax or play games. The connectUS delegation was invited to feel home and could enjoy some Frozen yoghurt and drinks.

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Kayleigh showed us around the headquarter and accompanied us into a cozy conference room where two experts, a senior director of engineering that works in the field of software development and a product manager, were ready to talk to the delegation and answer their questions.

The social media game industry is steadily growing and Zynga was the leader in social games and with Farmville launched Zynga probably one of the most famous Facebook games ever.

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After this interesting session with two experts the delegation got the unique opportunity to have some fun in the in house arcade of Zynga.

San Francisco – Day 4

Youtube

This morning connectUS 2016 went to YouTubes headquarter. Rodrigo de Oliveira who works for YouTube since two and a half year works in the field of user experience research guided us through his workplace.

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Rodrigo gave us some insight about how YouTube wants to achieve its mission that is to create a platform for people around the world to share their stories. He introduced to us the three major players in the YouTube environment that are creators „YouTubers“, viewers and advertisers. YouTube is constantly working on improving its products and overcome challenges by understanding the behavior and needs of the consumers. After Rodrigos presentation we had the opportunity to walk around and see peoples workplace at YouTube.

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Swisscom

We have been really excited about our second company visit of today! We had the great opportunity to visit the outpost of Swisscom in Silicon Valley.

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Gregory Leproux, VP Business Development Enterprise, welcomed us warmly at the office of Swisscom. He started his presentation with an overview about the ecosystem of Silicon Valley with its major players thar are university like Stanford or Berkeley, enterprises and governments.

There is no magic recipe for big companies to be innovative but that is why most big corporations have spin offs that focus on developping new ideas. In comparison to the Boston area, the number of startup spin offs within the same company are way higher in Silicon Valley.

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Swisscom has a competitive advantage as they are the only Swiss telecommunication company that has its outpost here. Swisscom established its US outpost in Menlo Park in 1998. The first mission of the outpost was to observe and to know where the trends are going as well as knowing where the company wants to be in the future. Their key to success is a close collaboration with the business unit in Switzerland when introducing a new and innovative idea. Their approach is structures into the following phases following a flow: Preparation in Switzerland, incubation and solution design in Silicon Valley and finally acceleration in Switzerland.

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Their working culture is highly influenced by a huge sense of collaboration. Their work in a collaborative environment, whether it be in the sense of co-creation with startups or coopetition with big corporations in the market by exchanging best business practices.

The main reasons for Swisscom to have an outpost in Silicon Valley are observing the area to find the unknown, to be ahead of the competitor as well as exploring new territory that can bear new business opportunities. Swisscom sees the Silicon Valley as a source for value creation.

Coinalytics

The last company visit was at Coinalytics a Silicon Valley startup operating in the Bitcoin and Blockchain ecosystem. The company was founded by Fabio Federici and James Edwards two years ago. Fabio welcomed us at his office in Silicon Valley were he works with his team composed of 6 members.

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Their vision is that one day no banks will be needed anymore because there will be public financial networks were no cost of entry will be needed. Being part of that change is their drive while developing their product.

Coinalytics enables enterprises to derive real-time business intelligence and risk assessment from blockchains and decentralized applications.

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They can be perceived as game changer in their specific work environment because they had a very focused and horizontal use case. Last but not least one of the most important thing are the people that are able to execute the idea and are the magic sauce.

San Francisco – Day 3

Mozilla – „let’s troll the titans“

This morning connectUS went to Silicon Valley for the first time and had the opportunity to visit Mozilla. Asa Dotzler, „spokes model“ told us the story of Mozilla and expressed its values during a warm welcome this morning in Mozilla’s headquarters. 20 years ago Asa started like most of Mozilla’s employees as a volunteer and became one of the founding members.

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The history of Mozilla Firefox started in 1998 when Netscape was the the original and then dominant web browser. At the beginning of the web browser history there was a constant competition between two major players, namely Netscape and Microsoft with Internet Explorer. Microsoft was winning tje competition after a few years. Owning 95% of the marketshare in 2002 Microsoft wanted to take over the Internet and decided to stop to further develop its browser as everyone was using it anyway.

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In 2001 Netscape released their sourcing codes and made their software open til they public. Soon they had 1000 engineer volunteers that started to compete against Microsoft and this led to the breakdown of Netscape in 2002 and subsequently to the foundation of Mozilla with the aim of having a clean, simple and fast web browser. After closing down Netscape, the non-profit Mozilla foundation was built in 2003 with its basic values to fight for an open web and build a web browser that fits the peoples needs. Mozilla sees competition as an opportunity that increases choice and innovation because in the end both, users and developers, win. After launching Firefox 1.0 in 2002 it reached 10 million downloads in one week.

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Until now Mozilla still relies strongly on its volunteers as for example one third of its codes were created by its volunteers. Furthermore there are 90 teams that translate the content into their native languages as Mozilla only codes its website in English. Throughout the whole story of success Mozilla has stayed loyal to its values.

Being a non-profit organization Mozilla focuses on creating features for its users that always have to be free for them to choose. Making the decision to choose Firefox as a web browser also is a possibility to make a clear statement that choice matters.

swissnex

Steven Reading Head of Corporate Innovation and Startup Development welcomed connectUS at swissnex San Francisco and gave us some insights.

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Compared to swissnex Boston, swissnex San Francisco focuses on innovation with its mission to connect the right dots, thus their approach is through technology.

Luke and John Lonergan

We had the great opportunity to welcome two successful entrepreneurs at swissnex in San Francisco. After introducing themselves to the delegation, they started their interactive presentation by asking questions to the students about what they are interested in their perspective and ideas.

Afterwards Luke and John shared the experiences they made during their own journes of success. John has his background mainly in the field of healthcare and medical devices, as Luke is mostly involved in the IT sector. Luke’s company Green Plump was a leader in the field of big data analytics, which was eventually acquiered by EMC Corporation in July 2010.

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The brothers gave some concrete and valuable recommendations for all students that want to found a startup after graduating. At first it is necessary to start with a smart idea and focus on a specific audience that is able to change the business landscape. Furthermore a date should be set until when you want to achieve your objectives under the motto „push as far as you can, as fast as you can“. Moreover John and Luke highlighted also that the right timing is a key variable when starting a new company. And last but not least, be sure to have the right team and that you chose carefully the fund that you ask for support. Having a experienced and strategic partner that can advise you and that shares the same goals as you can lead you to the top.

San Francisco – Day 2

Academy of Art University

Today the connectUS delegation went to the Academy of Art University in the middle of San Francisco. We were warmly welcomed by Amber who guided us through the classrooms and departments.

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 It was very exciting to get an insight into the students‘ works in the fields of game devlopment, fashion design, animation as well as web design.

The university comprises of 40 buildings and facitilites throughout the city and has 16’000 enrolled students. The students are able to study either full-time or part time at the campus or even take their classes at home thanks to online courses. Although when students take online courses at the Academy of Arts it is in some fields still necessary to have access to certain studios or equipment.

The tour ended with a Q & A session where the students were able to get some deeper insights in their fields of interest.

In the afternoon the delegates were free to explore San Francisco and do some sightseeing with beautiful weather.

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San Francisco – Day 1

We did it!

connectUS just touched down on the US West Coast for the very first time in history! We managed to go to San Francisco! All of us are really looking forward to some awesome days with some big company visits in and around Silicon Valley and having the chance to experience the westcoast spirit!

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After a long journey to San Francisco the connectUS 2016 delegation had the possibility either to go on a city tour or take a guided tour in Alcatraz. Luckily none of the delegates were kept their for questioning.

Boston – Day 4

Freedom Trail

Today was the connectUS 2016 explore Boston day. The morning started with a special tour which was organized for us. The tour took 90 minutes and we visited some sites of the Freedom Trail which all have a crucial role in the American Revolution. Our tour guide itself was a remnant of the 18th-century, namely John Quincy Adams, which plays a significant role in the history of Boston.

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In the afternoon the delegation had time to visit some more places by themselves.

Boston – Day 3

Biogen

Today connectUS 2016 had the chance to visit the headquarters of Biogen in Cambridge, Boston. The company was founded 1978 in Geneva and therefore it is a company with Swiss roots in the biopharmical industry.

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Nowadays Biogen has strong affiliates in 30 countries and 50 additional distribution partners around the world. The company focuses on three areas namely: speciality, neurodegeneration and rare deseases. Biogen does a lot of effort in the field of multiple sclerose, not only developping treatments to stop progression of the desease, but also to reverse the progression.

The approach of Biogen is always following three steps; discover, develop and deliver. To increase their capacity especially in the production of alzheimer drugs they started to build up a new site in Solothurn, Switzerland which should be finished in January 2017.

Founded on innovation and pioneering the site in Solothurn, Biogen perceive itself as a a game changer, and basing their key to innovation and talent focus which is in the end their road to success.

wordpress-9847After their presentation the connectUS 2016 project team presented the project and gave additional insights about the dual education system in Switzerland. The morning ended with a Q&A session, where representatives of Biogen could ask us questions and some delegates  had the opportunities to share their own experiences.

MassChallenge

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In the afternoon the connectUS 2016 delegation went to MassChallenge a nonprofit organization based in Boston that is  specialized in supporting startups. Their goal is to make entrepreneurs win, thats why they grand access to an extensive network community of cooperators and facilities that cover all needs to establish a company. Being a non-profit organization means that it needs to be backed up with financial support. Among others corporations like Microsoft, Nestlé, Honda and Pepsico, as well as foundations and governments are supporters of MassChallenge.

To benefit from the facilities mentioned, MassChallenge selects every year 128 startups with a jury to participate in the companies four-month accelerator program. The startups need to pass 3 stages until they are accepted: the online application, the pitch and in the end the 12 weeks accelerator program. During the whole selection process the startups are accompanied by experts like mentors and almuni.

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Furthermore we had the great chance to hear a pitch of Hitesh Tolani, CEO of Virtudent and the winner of last years MassChallenge competition. He talked with the delegation about his experiences during the competition and shared his personal and very specific recomendations of how to benefit most of a collaboration with an organization like MassChallenge.

Being placed in Boston gives the startups the advantage of benefiting from the ecosystem in all its extend. This year MassChallenge opened a new office in Lausanne, Switzerland additionally to its offices in Boston, UK, Israel and Mexiko.

The day ended with a reflection session where the delegation could share their thoughts with the project team about how they have felt during the onsite seminar so far.

Boston – Day 2

Swissnex

Today the connectUS 2016 delegation was warmly welcomed by Swissnex at their office in Boston.

As an introduction Jonas Brunschwig briefly explained to us the unique characteristics of the vibrant ecosystem especially for entrepreneurs in Boston. With over 300 universities it is a huge pool of talents. Jonas refered to Boston as Athen of higher education. This makes it also very attractive for startup companies as well as for venture capitalists.

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Furthermore the Consul Dr. Felix Moesner gave deeper insights into the mission of Swissnex. Their overall mission is to connect dots, mainly between public to private partnerships. The areas they focus on are education, innovation and research. Through hosting as well as in participating in selected events like the New York Fashion Week or the MIT Career Fair, they want to strengthen Switzerlands reputation as a center for science and innovation.

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After a short coffe break we could enjoy two presentations about entrepreneurship which enriched our knowledge with new perspectives we didn’t hear so far.

Martin Steinmann, Managing Partner of SteamFab Ventures, told us about his perspective of the differences between Switzerland and the US business culture. He talked about seven variables that are crucial when starting a startup in the US: Culture, Financing, Market Size, Test for Demand, Team, Commitment and the Legal Framework. Especially he pointed out that a good preparation is key, as failure matters and is not easely forgiven by venture capitalists.

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The last presentation of the day was hold by Patrick Anquiel, PhD, CEO of Portal Instruments. He shared his personal success story in the field of life sciences with us which represents his formula for entrepreneurial success: Select a huge market, define a clear value proposition and have a defensible IP.

His presentation ended with a quote of Steve Jobs: “You can only connect the dots backward“.

MIT

In the afternoon after lunch Jonas Brunschwig gave us a tour through the MIT and showed us the most important places.

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Cambridge innovation Center and Venture Cafe

At the end of the day the connectUS delegation had the great opportunity to visit the Cambridge Innovation Center and got a tour through the location. The CIC supports the entrepreneurship community in Boston. In the end we could join a real life networking event at the Venture Cafe.

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