Do you want to be one of the lucky Swisscom StartUp Challenge 2016 winners? Get your application in now – you still have time till this Sunday (15 May). These tips from Fabio Marti, trainee at Swisscom, highlight what you should bear in mind when submitting applications and pitching generally and should help you maximise your chances of being one of the top 10 start-ups selected to pitch before a prestigious panel. Who knows, perhaps you’ll be one of the five winners to join Swisscom and venturelab in Silicon Valley this September.
I’ve been working at Swisscom since 1 October 2015 in the trainee programme and in my current project I have gained a great many insights into Switzerland’s start-up ecosystem. As a graduate of ETH Zurich, one of the world’s leading universities for technology, I’m very interested in new ideas and technologies. However, I also found out that start-up founders are only successful if they have a workable business model and implementation plan. Therefore, to ensure a successful application for the Swisscom Startup Challenge and success in pitching before investors generally, there are a number of points to bear in mind.
Fall in love with the problem, not the solution
Inspiring tech savvy people with new technologies such as blockchain, machine learning or the Internet of Things is pretty easy. However, by focusing on the technology itself when developing an idea or solving a problem, you often lose sight of what matters, i.e. the problem itself. Essentially, every start-up is developing a product or service that solves a problem. So before you even think about how you’re going to do it, you should clarify the problem and why you want to solve it. How relevant is my solution to users? And which pain points will it eliminate?
Technology versus business model
The next step in your application is to show how you are going to solve the problem you have just described. Here, it is important to emphasis both technical and financial aspects. Mention the following for instance:
- Why is your technology fit for purpose and how did you implement it?
- How does your product or service improve life for users?
- Who is your target audience and how is the technology used?
- How does your product earn money?
These aspects do not have to be fully developed, but they should demonstrate to the panel of experts or potential investors that you’ve thought everything through. This is also a good time to discuss the market, estimate its size and give an idea of the market share you expect your start-up to corner.
No risk, no fun
By their very nature, start-ups take risks when chartering new and unproven territory. This should also be addressed in your application, particularly what the competition is like. At this point it is important to identify the relevant players and how they stand as competitors. For one, it gives you a chance to impress with your knowledge of the market and two, it takes you to the next part of your application: why you are better than everyone else. Highlight your competitive edge and provide a taste of your ‘secret sauce’, be it technology, sales strategy or user experience. This is also a good opportunity to list customers with whom you have worked or pilots you’ve already conducted. If you have already received funding, tell us about how you used it along with your go-to-market strategy. Anything that proves traction is allowed.
Cooperation with Swisscom
One of the final ‘musts’ in your StartUp Challenge application is to explain why you want to cooperate with Swisscom. As Swisscom considers itself a catalyst for Swiss digitisation, start-up ideas, including yours, must dovetail with this concept and you should provide practical and detailed examples of how your idea fits. Firstly, your subject must be relevant for Swisscom and secondly, and more importantly, we must be able to support you with our core competencies. The reverse also applies: Show us in as much detail as possible how the StartUp Challenge will benefit your company:
- What do you expect out of the programme?
- How will it impact your start-up?
- What do you hope to learn on your business trip to Silicon Valley?
I hope that you find these tips helpful. For more details about Swisscom start-up activities visit: Pirates Hub or the website of Swisscom Ventures, Swisscom’s venturing fund. For all the important details about the StartUp Challenge, check out this blog. The closing date is not until 15 May. We look forward to receiving your applications.