Swiss Startup Ecosystem: Incubators, Accelerators, Investors...
There are a couple of startup ecosystem players that you want to know about because of the immense support (finances, resources, visibility or knowledge) that they bring. It's good to understand what they do from the start, so that you can better prepare to reach one of them. This article introduces different startup ecosystem players with focus on Switzerland.
Incubators work with ideation stage startups. Because they are so early-stage, the risk is huge and there are not so many incubation players. They usually provide work spaces, coaching, funding, connections and visibility to their startups. Most of them are application-based, you need to submit your idea or a small pitch and some of them take equity stakes while others don't. In Switzerland, these include Blue Lion, Fongit, Glatec, Start-up Centro Promozione, and Boldbrain Startup Challenge.
Trainings are somewhat similar to Incubators as many of them focus on Ideation stage startups. However, they mostly provide coaching, connections and visibility only. Some of the most popular trainings are from Innosuisse, Startfeld, Startup Academy... There are also a few local associations providing support and training to startups. Check them out for your canton.
Accelerators deal with startups that are a bit more advanced, typically in MVP or early growth phase. They usually provide funds for an equity stake, coaching, connections and introductions to investors. Som examples are Venture Kick, Kickstart, Innopeaks, MassChallenge, Seedstars and F10. Braingelist functions similarly to an Accelerator as they take equity stakes for their services. Swissnex is not an Accelerator per se, but they help growth stage startups to expand internationally.
Crowdfunding platforms give online access to individuals who want to invest in startups for equity, future profits or to receive the product. Instead of preparing pitches and financials like you would do for angel investors and VCs you prepare campaigns and anyone can sign-up for it. Examples: Indiegogo, Seedinvest and Kickstarter.
Angel Investors & Angel Investors Clubs
Angel investors are individuals with a particular interest in startups in which they invest up to 50'000 at very early stages (Prototype & MVP). They can be working alone, in which case you find them at different events and programs or they can be associated in an Investor Club. Some examples of such clubs in Switzerland include: SICTIC, Start Angels, Investiere, and Business Angels Switzerland.
Venture Capital firms invest in later stage startups (typically Growth), howere some of them invest in seed-stage too (MVP). Here are some players: btov, Equity Pitcher, Ti Ventures, ZKB, RedAlpine, Wingman Ventures, Polytech Ventures, Index Ventures, Tomahawk VC, Swiss Startup Capital, Backbone Ventures, Alpana Ventures, and others.
Corporate Venture Capital
Some corporates have their own Venture Capital arms through which they invest in relevant to them startups. Working with a corporate has its own benefits such as access to the market. The following companies have their venture arms: Swisscom Ventures, Nestlé's Inventages, Rignier Digital Ventures and others.
Co-working spaces provide spaces for startups to work in for competitive and flexible prices. They also frequently organize startup trainings, events and have speakers. Some of the examples are: Impact Hub, Westhive, Technopark and many many others.
Startup competitions are pitching competitions where a few startups get selected as top startups. Some of them offer financial rewards. Some examples include Top 100 Swiss Startup, Venture and Venture Leaders.
Events and Communities
These are larger scale events designed to connect investors, startups, corporates and supporters or communities of players, for example: Start Global, Startup Days, Startup Weekend, and Startup Grind.
Many universities support their students with startups with coaching, co-working or even investments. ETHZ and EPFL have an ecosystem of spin-offs, HSG has Startup@HSG, and ZHAW also supports entrepreneurs through Entrepreneurship@ZHAW.
Some other platforms allow entrepreneurs to look for co-founders: Cofoundme.
Kapsly is a Startup Marketplace with flexible payment terms. KAPSLY allows your Startup to grow without money by connecting you to the right business partners and providing agile service agreements with an option to pay with company shares.
You can check out a more detailed map done by SICTIC & Digital Switzerland here.