Mike Baur believes in bringing in people with ideas never before put to use in tech-based businesses and disruptive brands at his company, the Swiss Startup Factory. There’s many different ways the SSUF fosters in these new businesses from classroom instruction on building the structure, brainstorming sessions, physical challenge activities and pitches to investors. But Baur wants to make sure that people come to the SSUF prepared for all the obstacles they encounter in not only the startup phase, but in the first few years of operation. One thing he always reminds young entrepreneurs about is that they will need to be willing to take risks.
Mike Baur says he’s not talking about taking wild gambles when you take risks to startup a business. He also says the risk-taking really is not the decision to start a business in and of itself because that’s more of a building process. The main areas of risk are what you’re going to invest in with your business capital, what kind of marketing you’re going to do for it and the kind of people you delegate the business’s responsibilities to. The risks aren’t made without putting thought and some calculation into them, but ultimately you still need to make the decisions that could turn your company a fortune, or have it fade out quickly. But many leaders in Switzerland are saying it’s now time for that country to start taking risks with the banking industry’s safety net no longer what it used to be.
Mike Baur knows a lot about banking because it’s what he did prior to starting the SSUF. He had a great acumen for investing and making loan recommendations to banking officers and telling clients how to plan for their business and future endeavors. Baur started this career as a 16-year old entering UBS Bank’s internship program, but within 10 years he was already making big decisions for primarily commercial clients. He did love this job early on when banking in Switzerland was in its golden age, but the US housing market collapse and subsequent effect on international banks changed everything in 2008. That same year Baur went from UBS Bank to Clariden Leu, and though he tried to do things in banking the way they had been done before, he realized that Switzerland’s financial industry had changed forever.
Mike Baur realized that even though banking had lost its grip on the Swiss economy, a new market for venture capitalists was forming. He had visited many universities and conferences where he saw graduates and entrepreneur hopefuls put forth a lot of great ideas, and he realized that all these ideas needed were just business plans and capital. By 2014 he had already gotten an early-stage venture capital group started in Think Reloaded, and in 2015 that was expanded to what is now the SSUF. Baur says it’s not just about getting a return in financial numbers at the SSUF, but it’s also about creating a place that ideas are free to flow and people are bound to come because they believe in changing the future.