A night of fun and playing around with business ideas and app programming took place at Feldschlösschen, a Swiss brewery located in Zurich. There was plenty of beer to go around and the people at this event were even given a tour of the brewery, but the objective was to see new ideas put to the test in the marketing, sale and distribution of beer. Most of the individuals at this event came from the Swiss Startup Factory, a for-profit organization aimed at forming entrepreneur ideas into companies within a very short time. Baur and other business coaches were happy to see how the young programmers and marketing specialists came up with unique proposals for beer sales. One company seems to be already forming, an app known as “U-Beer” which allows users to order beer from nearly anywhere and have it brought quickly. The ideas that have come from the beer hack will be brought to integration at the SSUF.
In Switzerland, being a part of big banks has as much of a cultural prominence as being a Wall Street executive in the US. It had an allure for Mike Baur who was introduced to the occupation as a 16-year old intern and performed quite well at his position. But after 24 years as an advisor and later commercial division manager at UBS and Clariden Leu, Baur decided it was time to leave. Switzerland’s banks had started coming under scrutiny for being looked at as harboring tax evaders, and for Baur his days were being spent too much in the office when he felt there was much more out there.
Going into startup funding and beginning an accelerator was very new territory for Mike Baur, and he certainly took a substantial pay cut to do it. But he consulted with several other former bankers and business professors at various colleges, and he figured out how he could make the accelerator work. Most of the entrepreneurs he targets for admittance to the SSUF are programmers and developers because IT startups and disruptive internet of things companies comprise much of Switzerland’s industry. But any idea that can be pitched successfully to investors will usually get the attention of Baur and his colleagues. The accelerator runs a 3-month program which not only has coaches and mentors working with the attendees, but also has outdoor activities and unique contests aimed at strengthening ideas and inspiring more teamwork among them.