Experiences from Silicon Valley – “Champions League” of start-ups

Back in Switzerland, jetlag is still affecting People-Analytix CEO Christoph Küffer – but perhaps it is also due to the many takeaways from Silicon Valley.

Christoph, you are spared the question about the highlight of the week for a moment. What was your first impression of Silicon Valley?

Christoph Küffer: Silicon Valley stretches from San Francisco to San José and Palo Alto, where we stayed, is right in the middle of it. Here you come across small single-family homes in contrast to San Francisco with its skyscrapers. In the Valley, large companies, government representatives from all over the world and start-ups combine to form an ecosystem – everyone benefits equally. Nowhere in the US people invest more than here – the “Champions League” of start-ups. The negative sides of this are to be found in the massive price developments for real estate as well as in the volume of traffic. It also quickly becomes apparent that the mentality is quite different.

How did you spend your days in Swisscom’s Business Acceleration Programme?

I was very happy that People-Analytix co-founder Tom Debus accompanied me. In this way, we were able to split up because our agenda was quite full. It was first about practising and sharpening our pitches and then presenting them to investors on various occasions. We also had numerous exciting discussions with investors, business angels, customers, and other start-ups. The day started at six in the morning and ended late in the evening. We were looked after by the Swisscom team in Palo Alto, which did an excellent job and opened many doors for us.

You mentioned earlier that the mentality is different from ours. What does that mean?

There are numerous “business hubs”, which promote the encounter of founders and investors. There are also regular events where selected start-ups – comparable to a beauty contest – can pitch in front of investors. The competition is enormous, i.e. it is crucial to demonstrate the added value and uniqueness of the product in the shortest possible time. Otherwise, you are right out of it. In the US, successful entrepreneurs are role models and comparable to rock stars.

And finally: What were your highlights of the week?

There were a few: The Swisscom Start-up Pitch Night at Swissnex, the spontaneous invitation to participate as a speaker at an event on the subject of “Gig Economy”, the discussions with other start-ups… But also, the many, sometimes critical, feedbacks, the cohesion and team spirit in the entire group.  And of course, the realisation that we have created something unique and meaningful with our platform. I am looking forward to implementing the tips and lessons learned.