What is the Swiss Start Up Factory?
Launched in 2014, the Swiss Start Up Factory (www.ssuf.ch) is a Zurich-based accelerator looking for ambitious digital entrepreneurs. At the SSUF we provide all the tools startups will need to build, develop and expand: a wide range of financing options, professional pitch trainers/coaches/mentors, a robust national/international network, and much more.
What happens at the SSUF?
The SSUF runs a three month long startup accelerator program in which we provide a unique platform of services, coaching, mentoring and office space in the heart of Zurich. A crucial component of our services is our well vetted network of entrepreneurs; they will provide startups with the invaluable insight to achieve their ambitious goals.
The structure of the program will be marked by completing three performance oriented milestones, which are necessary to graduate from the program. And congratulations to all startups who have come so far; you have now “carved out” your startup (i.e. you’ve founded your company). The hard work was by no means done in vain, for there are exciting benefits offered at the end of the program. For example, all successful startups will have the opportunity to spend one month abroad in a top startup ecosystem. The goal of this experience will be to scale and expand their products.
What is the main goal of the accelerator program?
The main target is to carve-out (found) a new company.
The accelerator program mainly consists of:
- Iterations (working sessions / prototyping)
- Milestone meetings
- Input sessions (from specialists)
- Mentor sessions (we have over 50 mentors in action)
- Survival days
- Dinners (with entrepreneurs and sport stars. Entertainment is included)
- Sales trainings
- Team building sessions
Who decides if the milestones are accomplished?
A pre-selected jury, composed of industry specialists, entrepreneurs and founding partners of SSUF, will conduct the milestone reviews. Defining the milestones will be a collaborative effort between the startup and the jury. Milestones will be specific to each startup.
What happens if a milestone cannot be successfully accomplished?
In the case of an unsuccessful milestone review, there will be two courses of action.
First, the startup will need to repeat the milestone. In this case, in order to be on track the startup will need to complete two milestones (the unsuccessful attempt and the next scheduled milestone) before the next milestone meeting.
Second, and most likely, the startup will need to leave the accelerator. In this case, the startup can keep the cash contribution. Importantly, the final decision on the appropriate course of action will be left to the jury.
Which process do you prefer in order to develop products during the working sessions / iterations?
The SSUF development methodology is based on the principles of the Lean-Startup approach (Build – Measure – Learn).
How can our startup get accepted?
Apply online for our next accelerator batch. We start twice a year (February / September)
How much do you invest?
We have a standard deal – we invest CHF 33K in cash (CHF 25K as part of the accelerator plus 8K for our equity stake). Together with the value of the program our package is worth 50K for which in return we ask for 8% of the company’s equity.
Which services are offered as part of the program?
- close support form the core team
- support of the lean startup approach
- Trainings and support events
- Desk for all team members (Incl. Wifi, Snacks, Cleaning, etc.)
- Access to a satellite location for two weeks
- Access to business support (product management, marketing & sales, finance &accounting, PR, and legal)
- Access to designers and developers
- Access to mentors and our corporate network
How should the cash contribution be invested?
Startups are free to spend the cash amount to cover any business related cost.
Do we need to write a business plan?
No. We make acceptance decisions based on our application form, lean canvas, demos and personal interviews.
We have been working on our startup for a while. Is the SSUF still appropriate for us?
Of course. We can help any startup that hasn’t already raised a series A round. However, if you can avoid it don’t found your startup before the accelerator.
We already have taken some funding. Can we still apply?
Sure. We’ve accelerated many startups in the same situation.
We don’t really need the money. Does it still make sense to apply?
The money is only a small part of what the SSUF does. The core benefits of the program are acceleration, the network, input-sessions, mentoring and valuable insights .
Do you only accelerate startups in the ICT sector?
No, we are enthusiastic about startups in any field. In the past we have mainly focused on ICT, but we are also very interested in ideas in hardware.
Can a single person apply for funding?
No, this is not possible. We strongly believe in the a sustainable team spirit.
What is the perfect balance of a startup team?
We prefer teams composed of at least one techie and one person from the business side.
I have a great idea for a startup, but I’m not technical. Will you still fund me? Can you help me find programmers to implement my idea?
We will consider funding you, but your chances are much higher if you find yourself a technical co-founder. Finding one yourself, through friends or friends of friends, is advised because having a personal connection to your co-founders is crucial; we’ve found that teams thrown together for the purpose of starting a startup usually fall apart under stress.
Can we participate without moving to your coworking space in Zurich?
No. You don’t have to be present all the time, but you will need to be here for the numerous mandatory meetings. (e.g. milestone meetings)
Can I, or part of my team, participate part time?
Basically, we want you and your team to be dedicated full time to your startup. If you have any legacy projects, which you are involved in, please be upfront about them and we will find the best solution possible.
We don’t want funding, but will you give us advice?
In this case, you can turn to the SSUF Growth Accelerator Program.
Will someone from the SSUF review my startup idea?
Unfortunately, we can’t have conversations with everyone about their ideas. If you apply we will certainly review your application. Also, catch us at our networking events for a first chat about your idea. Of course, you could also join the Swiss Start Up Factory Association.
Do you give feedback on application results?
Due to the volume of applications we receive we can’t provide detailed feedbacks to all applications.
How do you introduce the startups to interesting investors?
In week twelve of the acceleration program we have our Demo Day. The Demo Day consists of our newly carved out startups presenting themselves to a large group of pre-selected investors. This is a private, invitation-only event.
What happens after the successful carve out of the company?
Startups spend a month in one of our partner’s international offices; e.g. New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Beijing, Shanghai, Milan, Istanbul, Moscow, etc. After this trip they come back and focus on their startup.
Do we need to sign a contract for the acceleration program?
Yes, startups and the SSUF will sign a term sheet. A term sheet is a bullet-point document outlining the material terms and conditions of a business agreement. The term sheet will guide legal counsel in the preparation of a final agreement (bylaws and shareholder agreements).
Which legal entity will be used for the foundation of the company?
We strongly advise to found a limited company (AG – Aktiengesellschaft).
How will the corporation be funded?
As a consequence of legal and tax conditions it is necessary that the founding team provide the cash amount that represents their shares structure and voting rights.