When you think of the word “factory,” you probably think of a manufacturing plant where workers are assembling or processing things, but for Mike Baur it’s a place where ideas are built into game-changing businesses that aren’t found anywhere else. The factory Mike Baur helped found and currently manages along with Max Meister and Oliver Walzer is the Swiss Startup Factory (SSUF) which is also funded by CTI Group, Goldback Group, Helvetia and Red Bull Media and its become one of Switzerland’s top business accelerators. There are several components that go into the SSUF that have helped entrepreneurs become successful with business launching.
The SSUF emphasizes networking as part of its program. Most entrepreneurs aren’t going to be able to build an entire company completely on their own, so being a part of the SSUF enables them to share their ideas with other like-minded individuals and build management and development teams for the company. The SSUF also emphasizes mentoring from business experts like Mike Baur to show young entrepreneurs how to form written plans. A business plan goes beyond just the idea and actually shows what the business will look like once it’s executed. And the biggest component of the SSUF is when the entrepreneurs finally make the pitch for funding, a task that requires them to show investors what their company can do for them.
Mike Baur wanted to form the SSUF because he realized a platform for bringing people with disruptive business ideas that investors could find attractive was mostly non-existent in Switzerland at the time. He was switching careers at this point after his previous years were spent in banking. Baur certainly had high hopes when he started out in banking at age 16 as an apprentice, and he had become an executive at the large commercial bank Clariden Leu by the time he had chosen to leave. But the reason he didn’t stay in banking forever was because Switzerland’s financial sector was changing since the 2008 housing crisis in the US had made its way over to the nation’s banks, and the overall reputation of banking had gone downhill.
Baur had a new vision in which Swiss investors would start taking new risks and encouraging younger generations to build their own wealth through disruptive business ideas. The SSUF has become the starting point for Baur’s vision because it’s been able to rapidly change concepts into execution, and once entrepreneurs have formed their teams and launch their brand, they’re given office space for their early stage. Mike Baur has had a keen interest in financial technology such as blockchain-based products and he’s now formed a partnership between the SSUF and Fintech Fusion to increase the accelerator’s focus in that niche.