The 15th edition of the venture leaders program in USA was a success and Veronica Savu, CEO of the EPFL spin-off Morphotonix, was the captain of the Swiss national team. In our latest interview she talks about her experience in the US, the future of her company and the disparity of gender ratio in the entrepreneurial scene.
Veronica, what did you learn during the business development-trip in the States?
The questions are put in a much more direct way. This helps get a start-up on the right business track without losing time and gets you used to the American style. Having lived and studied in the US for 10 years before coming to Switzerland, for me it was not a surprise.
Who did you meet and who could be a potential help for your company?
I am in contact with several business advisers whose interest was triggered by the potential of Morphotonix.
How did the global pitchfest go? Did you and your team achieve success?
It was a good learning experience, as all pitches – I appreciated how well polished and rehearsed the American pitches were. A US healthcare start-up won the first prize, in a close competition with Swiss CellSpring.
Would you recommend the trip to other Swiss entrepreneurs?
Absolutely, it is an intense business trip, where you see how US start-ups on the East Coast are setting-up and developing, and where you meet people with a lot of experience in business, who talk to you and give you feedback on your case.
What is the next step for your company? Any announcements planed in the near future?
We are looking for CHF 1.1M in investment and to bringing new team members with business strategy experience on board. As for big announcements, I would not spoil the news in advance – keep an eye on our homepage.
You had plenty time to speak with the other venture leaders. How was the vibe in the team?
It was energizing to be together with such a concentrated mass of people with the same objectives and challenges as you. There were guys with and without kids, speaking Italian, French and Swiss German, of different nationalities, and of different cultures. But there was only me to balance the gender ratio. I do hope more women will join the entrepreneurial scene in Switzerland.
Do you have a funny story of the trip in the States?
I do and it involves Bob Caspe, the CEO of the International Entrepreneurship Center in MA. He was talking to a bunch of us about our product pricing. And he asked us: „How did you set your price?“ After some silence he asked again. A couple of timid answers came up. „How do you know the customers would not be paying more? Did you ask them?“ Uncomfortable silence. „Where did you pull your price out of? Your a–!?!“ Laughing and pressure released. After this, one of my colleagues comes to me and asks „So, you liked Bob’s style?“ What I was thinking was: the one thing that’s for sure is that I liked his question.
Morphotonix founders merged their scientific experience and drive for innovation into a unique technological platform which provides a three-in-one solution for brand owners: security against anti-counterfeiting combined with additive-free processing and premium look for their products. Their solution is based on holographic-like effects embedded directly on complex geometry articles without any additives, via micro/nano-patterning of complex-shape products/master moulds for industrial production of polymeric articles.
Check out Veronica Savu in the venture leaders 2015 video, which she’s been part of: