The Digital Lab at the EPFL in Lausanne was a hotbed of activity as the Top 10 from the Swisscom StartUp Challenge each made their pitches mid of August. Swisscom and venturelab revealed which five startups made it through to take their place on the flight to the week-long Business Acceleration Program in Silicon Valley at the end of September.
The atmosphere in the Digital Lab at the EPFL in Lausanne was buzzing with excitement and extreme concentration. It’s little surprise given that each finalist from the Swisscom StartUp Challenge Top 10 was keen to emerge victorious.
Each finalist had to face the panel of judges comprising some top names in the industry, among them Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler (Chief Digital Officer Swisscom), Adrienne Corboud (Vice-President of the EPFL), Dave Brown (Business Angel of the Year) and Beat Schillig (Managing Director of programme partner venturelab).
Each startup had just 15 minutes to sell their pitch to the judging panel. Leaving no space for detail, it was all about conveying the vision as clearly and concisely as possible. That was just for starters, however: after each pitch, the five-strong panel was also given ten minutes to drill the startups with some tough, rapid-fire questions.
And yet, despite all the nerves and tension, the level of professionalism on display was very impressive! To score points with the jury, the startups had to not only present clever ideas and a convincing business model, but also demonstrate team spirit and determination. The jury was particularly enthusiastic about Advanon, Fashwell, Nanolive, Qumram, Xsensio.
Roger Wüthrich-Hasenböhler: “I was impressed yet again by the creativity and drive of these startup companies. I’m pleased that our programme can support young entrepreneurs in making a start and promoting innovative strength in Switzerland.”
The five winners ensured a place for themselves on a business acceleration program in Silicon Valley. This tailored mentoring programme enables startups to have their entire business model thoroughly checked and establish valuable contacts with international partners and mentors. The startups will head off on their journey on 26 September 2016.
And the five startups who will be flying to Silicon Valley are:
Founded by three former Google employees, Advanon enables SMEs to prefinance their outstanding invoices easily, quickly and transparently. SMEs can have their customer invoices prefinanced by investors on the Advanon online platform and receive their cash within 24 hours. Companies than therefore customise their short-term financing according to their business needs and avoid long waiting times, while investors receive access to a new asset class. The startup recently won the Venture Kick final and received 130’000 CHF seed capital.
Every day, Instagram users click on thousands of images of models wearing clothes that they would love to wear themselves. With the ambition of making fashion products accessible to users on the Internet and offering them the opportunity to buy them, three ETH graduates developed Fashwell, an app that enables users to find and buy their favourite fashion products online thanks to an image analysis algorithm based on machine learning.
Scientists working for scientists – the startup Nanolive was founded under this motto at the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne. Nanolive is a new type of technology that enables scientists to conduct 3D microscope-based exploration of living cells without damaging them. In particular, it supports breakthroughs in medical research, such as by making it possible to test the effects of medicines on living cells. Last year the startup ranked #51 in the Top 100 Swiss Startup Ranking and won the Pionierpreis.
Zurich-based startup Qumram is dedicated to a market with a very bright future – big data. Qumram is a big data platform on which any online data can be entirely and lawfully captured and subsequently retrieved at any moment. It enables companies to meet their record-keeping obligations, identify fraud through analysis of customer interactions and optimise customer experience.
The startup Xsensio, founded at the EPFL in Lausanne, has developed a wearable that uses biochemical information on the surface of our skin to provide real-time information about our state of health and well-being in a non-invasive way. Unlike traditional wearables, Xsensio is based on nanotechnology that exploits information from proteins, molecules and electrolytes on the skin surface. The Venture Kick alumni entered last year the Top 100 Swiss Startup Ranking at #84.
Check out more pictures from the event: