Beiträge

Final wrap-up

It’s sad to say, but connectUS 2017 is already over. With the Closing Event on May 8, it officially came to an end. But we had a wonderful year with lots of interesting and amazing moments.

 

Everything started in summer 2016 with the planning. The first official event then was the Kick-Off Meeting for the Delegation at the end of December 2016. There, we got to know each other for the first time personally and learned more about the upcoming Preparatory and On-Site Seminar.

 

In February, the Preparatory Seminar took place. We had the pleasure to welcome different high-ranked people from various fields and companies. Furthermore, we had the opportunity to get an insight into the Google Offices in Zurich and the Swiss Embassy in Bern.

 

Then, everybody was really excited and looking forward to April 6. We finally headed off to the USA for our On-Site Seminar! Our first stop was San Francisco. With DocuSign, Swissnex, Swisscom, Microsoft and Xamarin we had absolutely fabulous visits there. Boston was our second city of our On-Site Seminar. We had a speech from the CEO of Swissnex, an MIT tour, a tour and speech by the CIC and the chance to network in the Venture Café as well as a speech from Bettina Hein, the CEO of Pixability. Moreover, we had the chance to visit the Cambridge Science Festival in Boston. Last but not least, we went to New York. The program was packed with insightful visits such as Google, Alex Goldberg – a venture capitalist, MoMA, Swiss Consulate, Brooklyn Grange and Livestream.

 

No doubt, we had a wonderful time. This was for sure a once in a lifetime experience. Now, everthing finished with the successful Closing Event.

 

Our last words are dedicated to all those people that enabled us to have that unforgettable experience such as our supervisor, accompanying lectures, delegates, speakers and of course, a big thank you to our partners!

 

There is one more thing we want to share with you: Lean back, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy our On-Site video 2017!

Wrap up San Francisco

The Bay Area – The place where innovation comes from.

No matter what company we visited in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley, we always had the impression to have arrived in the future. Either a company’s product, business model, process or employees seem to strive for innovation. We were lucky enough to be given the chance to get firsthand insights into various companies. Furthermore, we also learnt a lot about the Silicon Valley ecosystems, as well as its engine – the Stanford University.

The first day of visits and kickoff of our on-site seminar started with the visit of DocuSign. Their basic service is a cloud-based platform to read and sign contracts online wherever you might be in the world. Of course, they are constantly thinking about new features and therefore it is no surprise that DocuSign recently introduced a new service that also includes payment. The mindset of constant product and service improvement is something we discovered in all our visits. Right after DocuSign we headed to Swissnex San Francisco. After a general introduction into Swissnex we were able to learn how they support Swiss startups that want to succeed in the U.S. Since the Bay Area is the heart of new technologies and innovative thinking this part of Swissnex is really attractive and a lot of startups take advantage of it. In general, there is a huge number of startups in that area, what also leads to even more untouched ideas. The last visit of that day was at the Microsoft office located in San Francisco downtown. It was fascinating to see how many Microsoft products each one of us uses on a daily basis without even realizing. This requires a great ability of evaluating, which technologies have a chance in the future.

After a sunny weekend and some sightseeing, we travelled to the roots of innovation – the Silicon Valley. Once we arrived there everyone thought that we took the wrong highway exit, because it looked like a totally normal living district. After the visit at the Swisscom Outpost and their introduction into the Valley, we found out that pretty much everyone who visits SV has a similar first impression as we did. Furthermore, we learned a lot about the development of the whole Silicon Valley and its “founder”. Nowadays this place is an own eco-system that is the engine of new technologies and innovation in general. This is also why companies like Swisscom decide to open an outpost over there. In the afternoon we had the unique chance to visit Microsoft again, but this time at their office in the Valley (Mountain View). Learning more about artificial intelligence (AI) and experiencing the “HoloLens” is something none of us will ever forget. It was unique to get the opportunity to explore one of these futuristic technologies.

On Tuesday, we had our last visit in San Francisco. The company Xamarin, that was newly acquired by Microsoft, hosted us at their office in the city center. Hearing something about their history and reasons to sell themselves to Microsoft was definitely an added value to our stay in San Francisco. Even more fascinating and special was the Q&A with the founder and CEO of Xamarin.
To learn firsthand what it needs to successfully lead a company and which skills are required to be a good entrepreneur, was an absolutely enriching and unforgettable experience.

Interested to read more about our visits? Here our daily blog entries:
On-Site 2017

Our next stop is Boston, where we will further expand our minds and explore more companies where we will get an impression about the difference between the west and the east coast.

The last words are dedicated to all these people that enabled us to make that unforgettable experience. All of them did that next to their regular tasks and we highly appreciate their great efforts. Thank you!

Day 5 – San Francisco

Our fifth and last day in San Francisco was splitted in two parts. In the morning, the delegation had time for them-selves and do what they wanted. In the afternoon, we had a last visit here.

 

Xamarin

Karina Ung from Xamarin organised together with Paul Singh from Microsoft this visit. David Hathaway presented us the company Xamarin in their office in the city of San Francisco. In 2016, Microsoft bought this company and nowadays Xamarin is a subsidiary of Microsoft. Xamarin has over 350 employees, 15’000 customers and 1’400’000 developers worldwide. They develop apps for each device such as iOS or Android.

 

Furthermore, we had the honor to meet the CEO and Co-founder of Xamarin, Nat Friedman. He talked about his career steps and afterwards we could ask some questions. For beeing a successful entrepreneur, you need these three qualities: persistence (keep trying), result orientation and story telling (clear communication).

After this last visit we sat together and talked about our key-learnings from these interesting visits in San Francisco. Tomorrow, we will leave San Francisco and heading to Boston.

Day 4 – San Francisco

We spent our fourth day in the Silicon Valley. So, everbody was really looking forward to this day.

 

Swisscom Outpost

Our first stop was at the Swisscom Outpost. Lukas Peter, CEO of this outpost and a Swiss guy, welcomed us at their office. It was founded in 1998 and has nowadays 10 employees. He told us that each start-up from Europe has to go to the USA for going globaly in the future – otherwise they would fail.

 

 

 


Furthermore, Lukas spoke about the difference in doing business between the USA and Switzerland. For example, you only have plans for the next 2 weeks and not any longer in the USA. Whereas in Switzerland, you have plans for the next 2 or 3 months. Another example is the risk aversion. In Silicon Valley is the motto „do new things – you can fail, but you will fail forward“. In Switzerland, you want to stay by the traditional way and you do not want to fail at all.

 

 

Microsoft

We had the great opportunity to have lunch at Microsoft in Mountain View. Paul Singh welcomed us again, together with Jarek Kazmierczak and Rajya Bhaiya. After a great lunch, we heard a presentation about Artificial Intelligence from Jarek. The most interesting point was that the digital revolution is the next industrial revolution. That means, the digital revolution is more powerful than all others.

Afterwards, we could try out HoloLenses. These are augmented reality lenses which combine the virtual world with the real world. Due to these lenses, virtual objects can be placed in three dimensional space. It was absolutely fabulous and something unique.

Stanford University

Our last stop was at the famous Stanford University. We could walk around by our-selves and see this enormous campus which is like a city.

Day 3 – San Francisco

Leisure time – this was the motto of our third day. Everybody could do what he or she wanted to.

 

But the delegation had the opportunity to explore Alcatraz, the prison of San Francisco. Most of them joined this trip. It was really interesting to see how the prisoner had to live there. With a audio guided tour, we were able to learn some interesting facts about it. For example, the families with the children of the prison officers lived on the isle.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Day 2 – San Francisco

The second day of our On-Site Seminar stood for exploring San Francisco. Therefore, we had a big bus tour across the whole city. We did a first stop by the Alamo Square. From there, we had an amazing view over the city.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards, we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge with the bus and drove over – it was so windy. After a walk up to a small hill, we had a brilliant view over the skyline of the city and the bridge.


 

 

 

 

 

In the evening, we had the chance to watch a basketball game of the Golden State Warriors versus the New Orleans Pelicans. Luckily, the Golden State Warriors won. It was an absolutely wonderful day with the whole delegation and lecturers.

 

 

Day 1 – San Francisco

Our On-Site Seminar started today with three absolutely interesting visits in San Francisco City.

 

DocuSign

This company manages contracts electronically and not on paper. So, you are able to sign, send and manage documents anytime, anywhere and on any device. About 2’000 people are working for DocuSign worldwide. 2005 was the foundation in Seattle and there is still the headquarter.

Boris Pavlovic and Christian Marek welcomed us at DocuSign. Interestingly, Boris is Swiss and Christian Austrian. Christian told us that each person can use their services, from a private person to a small or large company. Impressingly, with DocuSign we can eliminate 85% of paper from the contract cycle and 50% in the field of meeting for completing contracts.

To be and stay innovative, the have a process of five steps – opportunity, prioritization, requirements, execution and growth. With the system „3-in-a-box“ they get their ideas from 3 different fields. In each team there is a person from the business side, one from the engineering side and one from the user side as well.

 

Swissnex San Francisco

Swissnex is an initiative of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), managed in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs. Here, we were welcomed by Dominic Sutter – a Swiss person. He explained us what Swissnex exactly does. Probably the most important task is to help start-ups to get used to the American market. Therefore, they have three programs. One of them is the market entry support, where they help you to build up a brand in the USA. Around 10 to 15 companies each year are supported by Swissnex.

 

Microsoft (City)

Paul Singh, a cloud solution architect, welcomed us at the office of Microsoft in the city of San Francisco. „Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more“ is the mission of Microsoft. Paul told us some interesting facts about Microsoft like their culture or could system. Microsoft has a lot of famous clients such as Apple, DocuSign, Netflix or IBM.

 

 

 

Another fact is that the people all over the world only uses about 20% of all features of Microsoft’s products. Furthermore, Microsoft donates an average of 2.6 million dollar in software each day.

 

 

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.

wordpress-1424

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.

wordpress-1462

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.

wordpress-1523

Intel

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

wordpress-1571

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.

wordpress-1073

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.

wordpress-1103

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.

wordpress-1114

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.

wordpress-1211

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.

wordpress-1273

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