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Wrap up New York

New York – established and still growing business hub

With a meaningful historical background (e.g. the wall street etc.) New York is already well known and one of the most famous (business) cities in the world. Anyways, there is still a lot of demand for office spaces in that area. Corporates still consider it as important to represent their firms at that popular place.

One good example is Google. Their office building has the same amount of square meters as the Empire State Building and we had the chance to visit it. The office tour gave us an impression on how they got the award of being the best employer in the world. The following event “Sprinting for innovation” showed us how one can shorten the innovation process. This full day visit was an amazing experience for us.

Alex Goldberg, a venture capitalist, and the invited two early-stage start-ups gave us an insight on how to decide whether you should invest in an company and which factors are relevant for start-ups to be successful during the funding process.

To be at the Consulate General of Switzerland and visit the Ambassador André Schaller was a great honor and of course also a valuable chance to ask questions about the relationship between Switzerland and the U.S. Did you know that according to statistics Switzerland is the country with the 6th best image in the U.S.?

The tour at the Brooklyn Grange was something completely different. The urban gardening institution tries to provide green spaces in urban areas and furthermore supports the usage of local products and therefore reduces the environmental pollution.

The firm Livestream hosted us for an absolutely interesting session. Their core business consists out of two parts. One is responsible to build the live videos, while the other distributes them. The high potential in the live video market is their main advantage.

Now the connectUS onsite seminar 2017 is over. But this does not mean we should be sad about it. The valuable experiences we gained have such a great value and we are lucky enough that we could be part of this amazing adventure

Many people supported us on our journey and this definitely deserves a big THANK YOU. You gave 24 students and 4 lecturers the chance to further broaden their horizons and make unforgettable experiences!

Wrap up Boston

Boston – the Silicon Valley of the east coast!

Well known for it’s universities, Boston is way more than only a student city. Very fast one considers that there is a high business potential. In more detail it is the health care and tech hub of the United States (or even the world). Of course this is triggered by universities such as the MIT, Harvard, the BU or many more. So, similar to the Silicon Valley with the Stanford engine, but on the other side of the country.

Swissnex Boston added great value to our program and enabled us to get insights into normally confidential areas. We were able to get a tour at the MIT (incl. Media Lab), the Cambridge Innovation Center (incl. Venture Cafe) and also had interesting speeches such as one from Hampus Hillerstrom from Proclara Bioscience or Pascal Marmier from Swiss Re.

Furthermore we had the valuable chance to visit Pixability. Bettina Hein, CEO and Founder, welcomed us and motivated us with her passionate speech to become an entrepreneur. We hope we can contribute to reach her goal of creating 5000 jobs for entrepreneurs!

Big thank you to all these people that made our Boston stay unforgettable. Especially we want to mention here Jonas and Francesco from Swissnex Boston. We highly appreciate your engagement!

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 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 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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