Startup Stories: Entrepreneurship Education & Startup Training by Europe’s Founders
Plants & Health: How any business can improve their employees’ health and reduce their buildings’ energy consumption w/ Oxygen at Work cofounder Manuel Winter

Plants & Health: How any business can improve their employees’ health and reduce their buildings’ energy consumption w/ Oxygen at Work cofounder Manuel Winter

August 26, 2019

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This episode brings us together with Manuel Winter, cofounder at Oxygen at Work, a startup that aims to Improve air quality in office spaces using natural plants in order to improve the health of employees and reduce the energy consumption of the buildings.

In this episode we started off by looking at the startup’s creation story and how Manuel and his team got their first customer without really having a product ready. Manuel dives deeper into what the first version of the product looked like and compares it to what it looks like today, explaining how Oxygen at work can differentiate itself from its competition using data. Manuel also explained how his team tackles the challenge of selling a fuzzy and long term vision of healthier employees to his customers, as well as his worst mistake and biggest achievement launching Oxygen at work and growing it to what it is today.

Problem - Solution Fit

  • How did the team test that there were people with a problem / need for it?
  • How did the team identify your perfect customer in the beginning?
  • What were the first steps the team took after deciding to go with it?

Product

  • What did the team’s first product / MVP look like?
  • How does the product work now, concretely?
  • How will the team differentiate itself from others coming into the same space?

Sales

  • How did the team get to their first customer?
  • How does the team sell companies such a long term and fuzzy benefit?
  • Is the team mostly targeting companies that already have plants?
  • What’s the business model behind Oxygen at Work?

General

  • What’s something Manuel did badly while working on your startup?
  • What’s one thing Manuel did really well?

Question from the audience: When is the best moment for a company that is built primarily with private funds to look for an investor to finance their growth?

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EXPERT SERIES: Finding the best angel investors for your startup w/ Business Angel and President of Zurich at Business Angels Switzerland Johann Schlieper

EXPERT SERIES: Finding the best angel investors for your startup w/ Business Angel and President of Zurich at Business Angels Switzerland Johann Schlieper

July 23, 2019

This episode brings us together with Johann Schlieper, President of the Business Angels Switzerland network and an active investor himself, with a strong focus on market-driven innovations. Johann has founded three startups himself and primarily invests in technology and durable consumer goods startups.  

 

In this episode we started off by exploring the good and the bad sides of being an investor, what you need to become an investor yourself, the biggest mistakes to avoid when starting out as an angel, and how he evaluates the quality of an idea. We then asked for advice he would give to founders, for example how to filter the good from the bad investors, how many hours to invest in your startup and the three things that investors want to see in a founder.

 

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We covered the following topics:

 

Personal questions:

  • What does he enjoy about being an investor?
  • What doesn’t he enjoy about being an investor?

 

Angel Investing:

  • How much money & experience does someone need to have to start angel investing?
  • What are the biggest mistakes new angel investors make?
  • How does he find out whether a founder has integrity and endurance?
  • How does he evaluate the quality of an idea?

 

Advice for founders:

  • If I pitch my idea and I haven't gotten any real traction yet: How could I still convince you to invest?
  • How can market-driven innovations convince investors to get funding? When doesn’t it work?
  • What are the three things he looks for in a founder, before you invest?
  • How does he detect a ‘bad’ investor from a ‘good’ investor as a founder (how would he do it)?
  • If I pitch my idea and I haven't gotten any real traction yet: How could I still convince him to invest?
  • How many hours does expect a founder to be working on his / her idea per day?

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WOMEN’S BUSINESS WEAR : Configuring your own business attire online w/ Snordtmade founder Sarah Maria Nordt

WOMEN’S BUSINESS WEAR : Configuring your own business attire online w/ Snordtmade founder Sarah Maria Nordt

July 8, 2019

Before I jump into this week’s episode I wanted to take a moment to share one of the challenges many entrepreneurs in Switzerland - including me - face when building up a team of qualified and trustful people. When you’ve built your first prototype or MVP and are ready to go all in on your idea - maybe you even received some money from family, friends or first investors - when you get to that moment when you need someone to focus on the technical side of your startup you’ll quickly realize that finding good software developers that are willing to sacrifice their high salaries to join you in your risky adventure, is going to be quite a challenge - especially in Switzerland. Why? Because you’re competing with big tech companies that have deep pockets and are willing to pay good developers a ton of money for their work. So, what can you do about that? One way I’ve found to get around this is to broaden your perspective and look for people elsewhere, for example in Lisbon. Lisbon has been called the European Silicon Valley for good reasons - Forbes Magazine says it is fast becoming a creative and tech startup hub, helped by accelerator funding, tech incubators and newly refurbished coworking spaces popping up all over the city. One company that I’ve come across and that I’m sharing with you without getting paid for it is helping startups set up their remote team in Lisbon is called Lisbon Tech Guide, they brand themselves as your partner to support you find and manage your team in Portugal. They cover everything you need from recruitment, company incorporation, budget planning, accounting, human resources management, tax advisory, co-working spaces, fiduciary topics, team building events and more. You can get a free 30-minute consultation call by visiting their website lisbontechguide.com to answer all your questions about setting up your team in Lisbon. Check them out at lisbontechguide.com and start building your remote team. 

This episode brings us together with Sarah Maria Nordt, founder of Snordtmade, a startup that focuses on sophisticated ladies business fashion. 

In this episode we started off by exploring the very beginnings of Snordtmade, how Sarah and her team tested the market need for her products, the first steps they took to launch the company and how they got their first customer. We then dove deeper into how they were planning to create demand for their brand in such a competitive environment, and what some of her low points were during her journey.

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We covered the following topics:

Problem - Solution Fit

  • How did she test that there were people with a problem / need for it? 
  • How did she identify your perfect customer in the beginning?
  • What were the first steps she took after deciding to go with it?
  • What did her first product / MVP look like?
  • How did she get to your first customers?

Sales & Marketing

  • How did she manage to create / is she creating demand for her brand?
  • How much is she selling, and how does she plan to grow these numbers?

Persistence

  • How did she make it financially possible to start & continue with her project?
  • What were some emotional low points and how did she get out of them?

Personal Fashion Configurator

  • What is it and why does she think it will help her better solve the problem?

Other questions

  • What’s something she did badly while working on her startup?
  • What’s one thing she did really well?

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EXPERT SERIES: Launching an investment fund w/ VI Partners founding partner Alain Nicod

EXPERT SERIES: Launching an investment fund w/ VI Partners founding partner Alain Nicod

July 1, 2019

This episode brings us together with Alain Nicod, a business angel, founder of various startups like LeShop in 1997 and Partner at VI Partners. Alain likes searching for startups and meeting exceptional people, and he believes it’s important that an entrepreneur can manage the day-to-day firmly, be realistic and have good sales skills. 

In this episode we started off by exploring what he enjoys about being a partner at an investment fund of over CHF 100 million, and what he misses about being on the other side. We then dive deeper into questions around how a fund works, what the returns on investment have to be, how the process of launching a fund work, what skills are needed, and more. Finally, we asked Alain for specific advice that we could apply to our own situation, how we could detect a good from a bad investor and what he looks for in a founder.

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We covered the following topics:

Personal questions

  • What do you enjoy about being a partner at an investment fund?
  • What don’t you enjoy about your job? What are the challenging moments?
  • How do you sleep, knowing that your investors expect you to multiply their CHF 101 million?

How does a fund work?

  • Why does a return on investment ‘need’ to be 10x or higher?
  • After how much time does a fund need to see a return on their investment (exit, IPO, merger, acquisition)?
  • How high do the returns need to be, to open an additional fund?

How do you launch your own fund?

  • How does the process work?
  • How long does it take?
  • What people / skills should be part of the team that opens a fund?
  • What’s the minimum size that makes sense for a fund (no health care focus)?

Advice for founders

  • The founders need a side-job, should both work part-time or one full-time?
  • How do you detect a ‘bad’ investor from a ‘good’ investor as a founder (how would you do it)?
  • What do you look for in a founder?
  • Is there a startup that should exist and that someone should start?

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FOOD DELIVERY: Fake invoices and working a full-time job next to your startup w/ Casola cofounders Linda Meier & Sofia Pique Meinecke

FOOD DELIVERY: Fake invoices and working a full-time job next to your startup w/ Casola cofounders Linda Meier & Sofia Pique Meinecke

June 17, 2019

This episode brings us together with Linda and Sofia from Casola, the first online tapas bar in Zurich. Linda, Sofia and their third cofounder Claudia started with the idea three years ago, when they realized they weren’t happy with the daily food options in Zurich, and they were looking for something between low-cost supermarket food and high-end restaurant menus - something with a good quality AND an affordable price.

We discuss the first steps that the three friends took after deciding to go for it and how they registered the company - and if you’re thinking about incorporating a company yourself, here’s a quick warning from the founders: after the incorporation you will receive hundreds of fake invoices addressed to your company, and you’ll have to find the original, and pay it. We also cover their biggest challenge which is acquiring customers, as well as the personal challenge of launching a startup while having a side job.

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We covered the following topics:

Problem - Solution Fit

  • What was your initial idea and how did you test that there were people with a need for it?
  • What was the first step you took when you decided to do this?
  • How did you get your first customers?
  • How did you do the pricing, concretely?

Employee > Entrepreneur

  • How did you make it possible to start with your project, timewise and emotionally?
  • What’s the biggest personal challenge for you during this transition?
  • What are the challenges when working next to your startup job?

Product

  • How did you build your shop?
  • How do you come up with recipes?

Other

  • How did they incorporate the company?
  • What’s the biggest challenge now?

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CONTENT: Building a personal brand that reaches thousands of people, and why views don’t matter w/ GlobalTechBox founder Cédric Bollag

CONTENT: Building a personal brand that reaches thousands of people, and why views don’t matter w/ GlobalTechBox founder Cédric Bollag

June 10, 2019

This episode brings us together with Cédric Bollag from GlobalTechBox, a startup enthusiast, aspiring entrepreneur, blogger, vlogger and future venture capitalist.

Cédric hosts a weekly show called The Startup Show where he showcases startups and investors from different industries and stages, reaching on average 650k/month impressions across all of social media. Cédric has a passion for meeting new, interesting people which is one of the reasons he’s been so persistent and has published over 160 video interviews with founders and investors.

In this episode I had the opportunity to dive into Cédric’s world and ask him about his vision behind The Startup Show, how he started it all, and many more questions that were bugging me. We cover topics like his revenue model, the importance of delegating tasks, how he grew his audience to its current size, as well as other more private topics, like his favorite book for example.

Having Cédric on the show was a delight and I learned a lot from our conversation, which is why I’m super excited to share this conversation with all of you today. Enjoy!

IF YOU LIKED THIS EPISODE, GIVE US A FIVE STAR REVIEW ON APPLE PODCAST.

 

We covered the following topics:

Problem - Solution Fit

  • How he started it all
  • How he tested that there were people with a need for what he wanted to do?
  • How did the first steps of Global Tech Box / The Startup Show look like?
  • How he grew his audience in the beginning and how he is growing it now

Revenue Model

  • How he generated revenue in the beginning vs now?

Hustle

  • Delegating: How does his process look like?
  • Work life balance: How does he keep the balance?
  • How is what he’s doing now helping reach his long term goal (venture capitalist)?

Learnings

  • What’s one thing he did really badly while working on your startup?

 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

12 Lessons for Life: An Antidote To Chaos by Jordan Peterson

21 Lessons for the 21 Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

 

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STARTUP LAUNCHER: Building the one-stop shop for early-stage ventures w/ AGORA founder Alex Balderstone

STARTUP LAUNCHER: Building the one-stop shop for early-stage ventures w/ AGORA founder Alex Balderstone

May 27, 2019

This episode brings us together with Alex Balderstone from AGORA, a virtual start-up launcher providing all the necessary tools for entrepreneurs, no matter the stage of their journey.

Starting your own venture can be a scary project with many unknowns. How do you find the idea for your startup? How can you make sure not to make too many mistakes and fail? Where can you get support in form of advice and money? These and many more questions go through the heads of every aspiring startup founder, and they are one of the reasons Alex started AGORA. His goal is to offer a one-stop shop for early-stage ventures where aspiring and active entrepreneurs can go and get the support they need.

In this episode we dive into the story of AGORA, their target audience, how AGORA is different from other platforms as well as more personal topics like the importance of mindset for entrepreneurs and what Alex did especially well and not so well while working on AGORA.

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We covered the following topics:

PROBLEM - SOLUTION - FIT

  • What’s the idea behind AGORA?
  • What’s the business model behind AGORA?
  • How did he test that there are people with a need for it?
  • What were the first steps he took after he decided to do this?
  • How does his life look like during that bootstrapping phase?

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION

  • Who’s AGORA’s target audience and where do they gather?
  • How is the team planning to acquire your first 100 paying customers?

PRODUCT

  • Why can’t I get what AGORA is offering elsewhere?
  • What’s your MVP going to look like?

MINDSET

  • How important is mindset in the beginning of a startup?
  • How can you get into the right mindset, when your environment is not ideal for it?

PERSONAL

  • What’s one thing you did really well while working on your startup?
  • What’s one thing you did really badly while working on your startup?

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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FOOD: From plant-based meat to killing traditional recipes w/ Plant Jammer founder and CEO Michael Haase

FOOD: From plant-based meat to killing traditional recipes w/ Plant Jammer founder and CEO Michael Haase

May 20, 2019

This episode brings us together with Michael Haase from Plant Jammer, a startup that helps you empty your fridge with the best plant-based recipes and and also helps you stop food waste.

Imagine the following situations…

  1. You are coming home after a long day at work. You open the fridge and you see some carrots, half an apple, soy sauce and mushrooms. What now?
  2. You found a nice cheap cauliflower in the supermarket, but don’t know what to do with it
  3. Your food is too salty, and you don’t know how to fix it

These are just some of the situations that have made me give up and order take out, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Plant Jammer offers a variety of great features like Food Pairing, the GastroWheel and the Balancer that target the problems I mentioned before. The team has a free mobile app with over 30k active users and 3 mio recipes, and for those of you with higher goals, the app lets you upgrade to PRIME which will get you nutritional target setting and tracking as well as additional meal planning features.

Having Michael on the show was a delight and I learned a lot from our conversation, which is why I’m super excited to share this conversation with all of you today. Enjoy!

IF YOU LIKED THIS EPISODE, GIVE US A FIVE STAR REVIEW ON APPLE PODCAST.

We covered the following topics:

PROBLEM - SOLUTION - FIT

  • What was the initial idea and how did he test that there were people with a need?
  • What was the first step he took when he decided to do this?
  • How much time did it take him to build his MVP?
  • How did he get his first users?

RETENTION

  • How did they manage to get to 30’000 active users and 3 mio recipes?

PERSONAL STARTUP ADVICE

  • What's one thing Michael did really badly while working on his startup?
  • What's one thing Michael did really well while working on his startup?
  • If he could put one message on a billboard to get to millions or billions of people, what would it be?
  • What's something crazy he believes that nobody else around him believes?

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BLOCKCHAIN: A solution to some of the financial industry’s problems w/ Adjoint Regional General Manager Alan Cabello

BLOCKCHAIN: A solution to some of the financial industry’s problems w/ Adjoint Regional General Manager Alan Cabello

May 13, 2019

This episode brings us together with Alan Cabello from Adjoint a startup that empowers businesses in the financial industry to achieve new levels of efficiency and control by delivering blockchain technology built specifically for their needs.

Having Alan on and talk about hot technological topics like blockchain and API’s in layman's terms was super insightful and helped me better understand these important technologies that are gaining more and more attention these days. Alan also shared how he perceived the difference between being a founder and being a manager at a startup, how he acquires businesses as customers, and more. I’m super excited to now share this conversation with all of you today. Enjoy!

IF YOU LIKED THIS EPISODE, GIVE US A FIVE STAR REVIEW ON APPLE PODCAST.

We covered the following topics:

PROBLEM - SOLUTION - FIT

  • How did you test that there were people with a problem / need for it?
  • What did you do exactly to identify your perfect customer for your brand and value proposition?
  • How did you acquire your first customers?
  • How did you decide on the pricing of your product?

FOUNDING vs. MANAGING

  • What differences do you see between your role now and the role of a founder?
  • Why is joining an existing startup better than founding your own? Why worse?

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION

  • How do you acquire customers, and how long does that process take?
  • What are the attributes customers want to see in you, for them to buy?

TECHNOLOGY

  • How does Blockchain work? How does it compare to an excel sheet?
  • What are API’s and how do they work?

B2B vs B2C

  • What’s the attractive part about B2B? Doesn’t it all move very slowly?

Books & other recommendation

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal

It doesn’t have to be crazy at work, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

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BUSINESS: Building a healthy company culture w/ Zenbusiness founder partner Ross Buhrdorf

BUSINESS: Building a healthy company culture w/ Zenbusiness founder partner Ross Buhrdorf

May 6, 2019

This episode brings us together with Ross Buhrdorf from Zenbusiness, a startup that makes it simple, easy and accessible for everyone to start and run a small business. Ross, who is known for his ability in building teams and executing in a healthy company culture, is the former CTO of HomeAway, a home rental competitor to Airbnb that sold to Expedia for $3.9 billion in 2016.

It was excited to have Ross on the show and get an insight into how a more seasoned entrepreneur is approaching the challenges one faces as a startup. We also talk about one of my favorite topics which is the building a company culture, as well as one of the challenges Zenbusiness had to face early on. I’m super excited to now share this conversation with all of you today. Enjoy!

IF YOU LIKED THIS EPISODE, GIVE US A FIVE STAR REVIEW ON APPLE PODCAST.

We covered the following topics:

PROBLEM - SOLUTION - FIT

  • How did you test that there were people with a problem / need for it?
  • What did you do exactly to identify your perfect customer for your brand and value proposition?
  • How did you acquire your first customers?
  • How did you decide on the pricing of your product?

FAILURE

  • First mobile app was a miss - why did it come to it and how did you fix it?

CULTURE

  • How do you create a healthy company culture?

Books & other recommendation

Yuval Noah Harari - 21 lessons of the 21 century

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