As this years theme is „Innovation is the new black!“ the project team is eager to find new ways to carry connectUS to a new level. For the first time in the history we implemented a crowdfunding platform. Help us to make it a success.
We really appreciate your donation!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After this interesting session with two experts the delegation got the unique opportunity to have some fun in the in house arcade of Zynga.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Steven Reading Head of Corporate Innovation and Startup Development welcomed connectUS at swissnex San Francisco and gave us some insights.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
In the afternoon the delegation had time to visit some more places by themselves.
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.
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.
After 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.
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.
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.
This morning our day started early with a four hour bus ride to Boston.
In the afternoon we had our first company visit in Boston at Pixability. The company with its offices in NY, San Francisco, Chicago and the only EU office in London was founded in 2008 out of the MIT. Pixability is a video advertising company for premium platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube with around 70 employees.
Bettina Hein the founder of Pixability is an entrepreneur originally from Switzerland and welcomed us in their new office in Boston.
„Anyone can be an entrepreneur“ was the message of her inspiring presentation where she was talking about the recipe for being an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur needs to stick to the three principles of „Naivité“, „Chutzpah“, „Perseverance“.
Bettina Hein finished her presentation with a Q&A session with the connectUS delegation which was really helpful for delegates that intent to become entrepreneurs themselves. There is a typical saying in Boston which is important for prospective entrepreneurs: „You have to go to where the puck is going, not to where it is now.“
Consulate General of Switzerland in New York
The Swiss Council André Schaller welcomed connectUS at the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York and talked about his personal success story as well as the duties of the Swiss Consulate in New York City. Furthermore he explained to us how Switzerland is being perceived by Americans as one of the most innovative and competitive countries in the world.
Afterwards connectUS heard two interesting speeches. The trade commissioner told us about the importance of the US as a trading partner for Switzerland as the US is its second largest export market. He also shared with us how Swiss companies are valued as high quality and innovative. Therefore Swiss companies operating in America are very valuable to the economy as they provide high level jobs.
Continuing with the last speaker Michael Smith who is a Swiss-American entrepeneur. He shared his experience of enterpreneurship and start-ups both in the US and Switzerland. His top five learnings are: there is more than one way, just do it, don’t be afraid to fail, be a connecter and last but not least don’t be humble.
In the afternoon the connectUS delegation had the chance to visit the UN Headquarters in New York city with a guided tour.
After the tour the delegation was introduced to the principals of the UN with its Global Compact program via a private UN HQ briefing by one of the leading project managers. All the principals they promote today are still based on their core values; maintaining peace in the world, retain human rights and support sustainable development. The Global Compact program offers companies the opportunity to support the UN’s sustainable goals and help tackle important issues and receive some recognition as an additional incentive.
The Wallstreet Experience
After having one day off, we started the forth day in Wallstreet to understand the roots, history and importance of the former financial district in New York.
John our tour-guide showed us the most representative buildings and explained why they used to be very important for New York and whole America. As a matter of fact most of the buildings in Wallstreet are no financial institutions anymore and are used now as museums, housing or shops for example. To fit the current needs of the financial sector, with all its new technologies, most of the companies are located in Midtown nowadays.
Finally John stated that history had a huge impact on the geography of New York. Manhattan, Manna-hata (many hills), has its name because it used to be a hilly land but the more the city grew, the more it was made flat.
The tour ended with a short trading game where the delegation could make their own experiences as traders.
The second stop today was at NYU Incubators where Alex Goldberg explained to us the role of a venture capitalist. As an Investor he has to decide which startup companies he will support with financial resources. There is a big number of factors he has to take into consideration, as for example the team behind the company, the strategic intent, the execution risk, the market conditions, the supporting network of the company as well as the stage.
One very interesting aspect he mentioned was the DNI of a company. There are for example unicorns, that want to establish something new and unique in their market environment like for example Airbnb or Huber. These companies can be seen as Pioneers or Gamechangers. Then there are also so called Early Exit companies, which are established with the aim of being successfull and then sold in a few years.
After his presentation, the delegation had the chance to see two pitches of two absolutely different startups operating in different markets and which also are in different stages.
Lary Wilmore late night show
In the afternoon we had the great chance to see the recording of the late night show of Lary Wilmore. It was a hilarous and exciting experience all delegation members enjoyed a lot.