People behind Swiss Innovation
The Inno-Swiss platform is dedicated to boost
Swiss innovation and the people behind

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    Nicolas Durand (picture) and co-founder Iwan Märki met at EPFL during their PhD studies.

    Abionic starts the commercialization of its revolutionary diagnostic platfrom

    Mi. 27.05.2015, 10:00

    On May 22, 2015, the ambassador of Swiss nano-, bio- and medical- technology know-how Abionic announced the launch of its allergy test on the market as well as the incorporation of its US subsidiary in Boston....Read more

    Switzerland's 3rd best startup Abionic is the first company in the world to sell a quantitative system for rapid allergy tests. After raising CHF 3.8 million in 2014 to further develop its catalog of allergy-specific reagents, the EPFL spin-off, 2010 Venture Kick winner and venture leader USA, just launched its first product on the market, called the abioSCOPE. The system developed by Abionic consists of a round disk the size of a CD that holds up to eight small, transparent capsules and a reading device into which the disk is inserted. The capsules contain nano-chambers, where specific proteins present in drops of blood from the patient are quantified within minutes. The reading unit is equipped with a touch screen that is used to operate the device and which shows the results. In addition, an iPad app allows the doctor to do other tasks, such as quickly print out a report.  

    "We succeeded in bringing a new technology to a real certified product on the market"

    “Starting commercialization is one of the most important step for a start-up company: It means that we succeeded in bringing a new technology to a real certified product on the market. We are definitively entering an exciting phase!” The first sales have been realized in Switzerland. Abionic plans to start European sales at the next EAACI Congress (European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology) which will take place in June. In addition to the launch the company announced the incorporation of its US subsidiary in Boston, MA, that will support its internationalization strategy.

    Discover the abioSCOPE developed by Abionic in video:



    A great success for Sitzerland's 3rd best startup

    For the second consecutive year in 2014, Abionic was elected 3rd best Swiss startup in the TOP100 ranking. Its co-founders, Nicolas Durand and Iwan Märki, met at EPFL during their PhD studies and benefited from the support of Venture Kick since the company’s early days: «Venture Kick helped us to gain a global vision of our activities and not loose ourselves into details. I would recommend the program to anyone who is interested to enter the Swiss startups ecosystem”, concludes Durand.

    Abionic was also part of the Swiss national startup team in 2010, "one of the best moments in my entrepreneurial career", said Nicolas Durand in our interview of 2014 (in French).

    Additional Links
    Like Abionic, become a venture leader in the USA - or China
    Kick-start your startup with Venture Kick
    Learn more about Abionic (Article in the 2014 Venture Kick annual report issued in January 2015)
    Read our interview of Abionic when they raised CHF 3.8 million in October 2014

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    Claudiu Musat from Obviz is going to pitch his project on the second stage of Venture Kick soon.

    Two great awards for Venture Kick alumnus Obviz

    Do. 21.05.2015, 16:00

    On May 3, 2015, Venture Kick alumnus Obviz won a prestigious European award for better journalism, the Press for More Award. A week later, the EPFL spin-off won the 20th SICTIC Investor Day in Lausanne. ...Read more

    The Press for More award

    ‘Difference Day’ - which took place on May 3 in Brussels - aims at putting forward the freedom of speech and of the press as part of our fundamental democratic rights. The event is organized by the Brussels Platform for Journalism together with BOZAR, the Evens Foundation and iMinds, under the patronage of UNESCO.

    The award recognizes a European project that contributes to better journalism through the use of technological innovation. The winning project typically stimulates participation, has a strong impact and significant growth potential.

    A total of 29 impressive projects from 15 European countries had been submitted for the award. Nevertheless, the jury members unanimously voted for one specific project to receive the ‘Press for More’ award 2015 on May 3. The winner –  OBVIZ.com (When it’s not obvious, it’s ObViz) – helps people explore and understand controversies. It addresses the lack of structured information on the internet on controversial subjects using cutting edge artificial intelligence. If you need to make a decision, like vaccinating your child or not, the outcome will be very different depending on what article you happen to read first. Most people don't have an expert that they can just ask, so they need trustworthy information. And that is exactly the role OBVIZ.com has taken up.

    SICTIC Investor Day
    Organized for the 5th time in Lausanne by web entrepreneur Sébastien Flury (www.startupolic.com) and Swiss ICT Investor Club (www.sictic.ch), SICTIC Investor Day Lausanne gathered more than 60 people at Debiopharm Headquarters.

    8 startups from Western Switzerland were selected, among 22 applications, proving once again that internet startup scene in Switzerland is lively. After a presentation of the recently created Swiss ICT Investor Club and Innovation Forum Lausanne, it was time for the 90-seconds pitches. For a change in tech events, there were more women than men among startup presenters: 5 women entrepreneurs pitched the audience! The audience selected SThar (predictive analytics), Xsensio (biochemical wearable devices), Obviz (user engagement) and Tawipay (international money transfers) for the 7 minutes pitches. Xsensio is also a Venture Kick alumnus.

    After four highly qualitative pitches, EPFL-based startup and Venture Kick alumnus ObViz was picked as winner of the competition by the jury. Claudiu Musat received a Samsung Galaxy tablet, offered by Innovaud. ObViz helps readers explore and understand controversies and intends to increase user retention and engagement for media producers. A beta version of ObViz is up and running.

    Claudiu Musat invited everyone to use and test the platform, to help him and his team improve the tool. The next SICTIC Investor Day Lausanne will take place on 26th of October 2015 at CVCI. Investors can already secure their seat on http://sicticlausanne.eventbrite.com  

    Additional Links
    Kick-start your startup with Venture Kick

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    Szymon Kostrzewski (right), CTO of KB Medical, received the 1st PERL Prize in 2015

    PERL Prize 2015: 3 alumni on the winners’ podium

    Mi. 20.05.2015, 18:00

    The PERL Prize has become a key competition and support offered by Lausanne Region to companies established on its territory. This year, the Venture Kick alumnus and EPFL spin-off KB Medical won the first place in front of Flyability (2nd) and Nanolive (3rd), two alumni as well. ...Read more

    The 12th edition of the PERL Prize took place on May 7 at the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne with more than 450 people. It was broadcasted live on the regional TV la Télé.

    Initiated in 2003, the PERL Prize (Prix Entreprendre Région Lausanne) rewards innovative and promising companies, whose idea or product will have an impact for Lausanne, its region and economic development.

    Additional Links
    Check out the videos made at the event and of the finalists

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    The team of the ETH Spin-off Hylomorph

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    The team of the ETH Spin-off IRsweep

    Here are the latest Venture Kick winners of stage two

    Mi. 13.05.2015, 10:00

    Three promising high-tech startups recently convinced the jury at the second stage of Venture Kick: HYLOMORPH, IRsweep and ceveeo. All are qualified for the big Venture Kick final (CHF 130’000 to kick their startup). Fingers crossed!...Read more

    HYLOMORPH has developed cellulose layers that allow surgeons to minimize foreign body reaction and fibrosis upon operation, thus reducing patient’s pain and revision surgery rates. The CEO of the ETH Spin-off, Simone Bottan, will travel with the “Swiss National Startup team” to Boston and New York June 2015 for an intense 10 days entrepreneurial business development trip.

    The ETH Spin-off IRsweep develops spectroscopic sensors for the multi-species analysis of gases and liquids in the mid infrared range and combines the key features of high speed, spectral bandwidth and resolution. Such sensor systems are in high demand for on-line and in-line process analysis, as the MIR range hosts the strongest absorption features of many molecules. The Spark awards of ETH Zurich recently honoured the outstanding inventions of IRsweep.

    Through DogsSense from ceveeo you are always up-to-date about the health of dogs as well as their activity and location – all through high-tech sensors that are plugged into an ecological leather collar or harness. The sensor measures the dog's heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature and outside temperature. All data is displayed on the smartphone to show the health status. The team of ceveeo just launched a presale campaign on indiegogo to bring their invention to market. 

    Additional Links
    Is your business idea good enough? Get the kick

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    The VIBWIFE team

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    The team from Axiamo

    Who are the latest Venture Kick winners?

    Di. 12.05.2015, 17:00

    "Why would someone buy this?" is a question that can stump startups as they try to explain their value proposition. Fortunately for four startups pitching in the first round at venture kick session, the answers were both compelling and realistic....Read more

    The rate of unnecessary cesarean sections increases worldwide every year. This leads to high health and economical costs. The innovative device from VIBWIFE would drastically reduce the c-section rate by helping to reposition the baby to the ideal birth position. Resulting in a reduction of the birth duration which will allow the hospital to have higher capacities. In short: quicker births are more secure births.

    Axiamo is providing the motion sensor that lets you focus on your application and gives you the objective feedback to improve the sport training and performance. The sensor is capable to process complex motion analysis algorithms. It enables not only to analyse the sport performance, it is even possible to get instant feedback.

    PharmaBiome will develop an innovative technology platform to formulate safe, efficient and scalable pharma-level fecal microbiota transplant products. Fecal microbiota transplant is a novel, lifesaving therapy that has no approved pharmacological solution yet. Our technology will address this need and extend its use from last resort treatment of infections to the treatment and prevention of multiple other microbiota related diseases.

    SThAR develops predictive software based on the emergent science of sociothermodynamics. Their models describe and predict social trends to optimize the success of marketing campaigns (for promoting products, brands, or electoral information), and forecast consumption patterns and evolution of sales for designing smart geomarketing strategies.

    Additional Links
    Is your business idea good enough? Get the kick

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    ScanTrust’s partners and customers include both multinational Fortune 500 Companies as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.

    Anti-Counterfeit Startup ScanTrust Raises $1.2M Seed Round

    Di. 05.05.2015, 15:00

    ScanTrust, a Swiss internet of packaging startup dedicated to prevent and combat potentially harmful counterfeit products from entering the public market, has closed a $1.2 million round of initial seed funding led by AngelVest Group and SOS Ventures with participation from strategic partners in the packaging industry and select angel investors. ...Read more

    Headquartered on the EPFL innovation park in Lausanne, Switzerland, and also equipped with a fast-growing branch in Shanghai, China, ScanTrust provides a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution for product authentication and supply chain traceability to brand owners and secure document issuers. The offer is based off the Company’s groundbreaking invention of the world’s first copy-proof QR code, which can be directly printed into a product’s packaging or label that readily allows consumers or supply chain inspectors to quickly and easily verify whether the product is real or fake using only a mobile phone.

    With the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) projecting that by the end of 2015, the global value of counterfeit and pirated goods could be as high as $1.77 trillion, counterfeiting is exacting greater economical damage to brands and risks to consumer health. From the melamine-tainted milk and infant formula scandal that shook China in 2008 to the thousands of lead-laden toys sold in the US, the number of disturbing counterfeit incidents—fake alcohol, drugs, cosmetic products, and even eggs—has drastically increased. At a time when no consumer can be 100% certain of a product’s safety, ScanTrust seeks to restore reliability and confidence back into the market.

    “Counterfeiting is not a new problem and many solutions have been developed to solve this problem; however, traditional solutions to prevent counterfeit goods have proven ineffective at providing a scalable, global solution,” said ScanTrust CEO and co-founder Dr. Justin Picard, a long-time industry veteran who has developed several disruptive counterfeit detection technologies that are currently used on billions of products from global brands and is a methodology co-leader on the OECD Taskforce on Charting Illicit Trade. “We believe ScanTrust’s purely digital platform provides a secure product authentication that is cost-effective, easy to implement, consumer friendly, and scalable.”

    Nathan Anderson, another co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer, leads efforts out the Shanghai office. “Since our inception, ScanTrust has been a ‘global’ startup,” says Anderson. “Counterfeiting is a global problem, and with demand for premium products increasing in emerging markets such as China, our Swiss-Chinese footprint allows us to align our support efforts with the needs of our customers. We are excited to build our team to support roll-out of a technology that will inevitably have positive impact across the globe.”

    ScanTrust’s partners and customers include both multinational Fortune 500 Companies as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and this most recent round of funding will primarily go towards building out the product and engineering teams, as well as supporting on-going projects with existing customers and onboarding new customers.

    About ScanTrust
    ScanTrust a leading provider of secure cloud based product authentication and supply chain traceability solutions. By combining industry leading secure 2D barcodes with a comprehensive software suite, ScanTrust helps brand owners protect against counterfeit goods, monitor their supply chain and enhance trust. ScanTrust has offices in Lausanne, Shanghai and Beijing.

    ScanTrust: A Venture Kick, venture leader USA and Swisscom StartUp Challenge 2014 finalist
    Since the start, ScanTrust has been supported by a number of programs and won a number of startup prizes. For example, it won the final of Venture Kick in December 2014. CEO Justin Picard was a venture leader USA the same year and a finalist of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge. ScanTrust is also ranked on the TOP100 Swiss Startups Award.

    Meet Justin

    Additional Links
    More about ScanTrust
    Read our interview of CEO Justin Picard (in French)

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    Chris Millan

    Interview of an American founder in Switzerland: “We planned to stay for 6 months – it’s been 6 years now”

    Fr. 01.05.2015, 10:00

    In many cases, young entrepreneurs who want to develop cross the borders, for example in the US or in Germany. The contrary is rare. But for Chris Millan, this is what happened. He developed his startup CellSpring with Kramer Schmidt in Switzerland. Soon the two partners will go back to America with the Swiss national startup team. ...Read more

    Chris, CellSpring is a bio-tech company based in Zurich. How and when did you found the company?
    Actually we have not founded the company yet. We plan to do so very soon, and will be headquartered in Zurich. We work out of the ETH Zürich Innovation & Entrepreneurship Lab.

    Your core technology is the 3D Bloom. What is that exactly?
    Traditional in vitro tests are done by growing cells on plastic surfaces like petri dishes or well plates. Those have been valuable tools for a number of important discoveries in biology, but there is a revolution underway as we develop new ways to culture cells in 3D environments that better mimic the conditions in which they live in the body. 3D Bloom is our proprietary platform for assembling cells in 3D - think of it as a “bio glue” - and we can use it to make tissues with different functions depending on the cell types we use. These small tissues, which are about 0.5mm in diameter, can be used to test a new pharmaceutical and improve the predictability at a very early stage as to its effectiveness or potential toxicity. Our vision is that 3D Bloom microtissues will reduce the number of drugs that fail during clinical testing, with a long term goal of significantly reducing the number of animals needed for preclinical drug screening.

    CellSpring is an American company. But you decided to come to Switzerland, which is unusual. Most of the time it is the opposite way. Why did you come?
    CellSpring is a Swiss company, which just happens to have 2 American co-founders. I came to Zurich in 2009 after finishing my bachelor at Tulane University in New Orleans - which happens to be the hometown of both my co-founder, Kramer, and I. A research mentor encouraged me to look abroad for Masters programs, and I settled on ETH which has a great reputation. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision and it was only supposed to be for 18 months, but 6 years later, I’m still here! I had a great opportunity to stay for my PhD and work on a project that really motivated me, and now my scientific network is actually based in Zurich so it wouldn’t make sense to leave now.

    How difficult was it for you to leave your homeland?
    It was easy to leave. I was ready for an adventure and excited to be challenged in a brand new environment. Things have become more difficult over time, though. I was late to meet a friend recently and was told “You can’t do this anymore, you’ve been here a long time and you know how it works here now”. I do know how it works now but just because you take the boy out of New Orleans, doesn’t mean you can take the New Orleans out of the boy.

    Can you describe the american business culture? How do Americans handle business? Is it very diffierent to the Swiss?
    CellSpring seeks to blend the best aspects of American and Swiss business culture into our identity as a company. We’re fortunate to come from the U.S. - an entrepreneurial country with a relationship-driven environment that encourages risk-taking and building businesses on a global scale. We’re also fortunate to be headquartered in Switzerland - where investors and industry emphasize the key details and push you to establish highly specific plans. We believe there is great power in combining the American attitude of big thinking with the Swiss devotion to precision and quality, and that is what CellSpring aims to do.

    How many partners/investors do you have and who are they?
    We have been very lucky to partner early on with one of the bigger pharma companies in Basel, with a smaller cancer diagnostics company in the US, and a number of academic labs in the Zurich area. Those partnerships have been extremely valuable to us as learning tools for test-driving and validating our technology with our future customers. Nobody can give better input than the product end-users. We have been fortunate with funding so far through grants and competition winnings, and we plan to raise our first investment round in Q4 of this year.

    Last year you were named ETH Pioneer Fellow and CellSpring got the stage II kick by Venture Kick. How did these successes push CellSpring?
    The ETH Pioneer Fellowship was really crucial in enabling us to commit to CellSpring full time as it covers our salaries, lab space, and office space for 1 year. With the Venture Kick stage II we’ve been able to invest more into our partnering, using the funds both for fueling our ongoing pilot projects and for traveling to big biotech conferences to look for additional collaborators. Winning these prizes has also been a great confidence boost for us since it shows a certain validation of our business model and that we have a solid team that is proving that it can execute.

    Recently you were named venture leader 2015 and will travel to Boston and New York for a business development trip. What do you expect from this event?
    The trip to the U.S. will be another great opportunity for us to get feedback from industry leaders regarding our business model and plan for reaching the market. While we are based in Zurich, we will want to establish a presence in the US – it will help that both co-founders are Americans. We will have a very early opportunity to evaluate which parts of our pitch resonate in the US market, and where we should put our focus. On top of the Venture Leader events in NY and Boston, we will also travel to Philadelphia during the trip to take part in BIO 2015 — the largest biotech conference in the world.

    What are your next steps?
    We have a lot on our plate for the next 6 months. We are applying/in the running for a number of additional funding opportunities that will help us grow our team, with a first hire likely coming in the form a scientific-minded director of research. Along that vein, it will be critical to continue executing successful collaborations with our partners to grow the bank of data that supports the 3D bloom technology.

    Additional Links
    Meet the Swiss national startup team of 2015

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    Meet the Lunaphore team: Diego Gabriel Dupouy, co-Founder & CTO, Déborah Heintze, co-Founder & COO and Ata Tuna Ciftlik, Founder & CEO

    Lunaphore successfully closes Series A financing round of CHF 2 million to develop its revolutionary tissue diagnostics platform

    Mi. 29.04.2015, 11:00

    Lunaphore Technologies SA, a young Swiss medtech company developing a disruptive technology for tissue diagnostics, announced today the closing of a Series A financing round of CHF 2 million. The round was led by Redalpine Venture Partners in Zurich with the participation of private investors from Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Proceeds will be used to develop Lunaphore’s first tissue diagnostics platform....Read more

    Lunaphore, a spin-off from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), was founded in April 2014. Lunaphore has developed an innovative tissue diagnostic platform, primarily for analysis and classification of tumors. The platform is based on a microfluidic chip technology that allows fine-tuning of such diagnostic assays, and increases their speed and accuracy. To bring the products closer to the market, the company raised CHF 2 million from Redalpine Venture Partners and private investors from Switzerland and the UK.

    “From the very beginning, our philosophy was to build a great team and a great product, and this very first investment is a significant validation of both. Besides, we are excited to have a lead investor on board with such an impressive track record like Redalpine.” says Dr. Ata Tuna Ciftlik, the founder and CEO of Lunaphore.

    In addition, Lunaphore announces the assignment of Dr. Michael Sidler to the Board of Directors. “We are excited about the unprecedented speed and flexibility of the platform and the passion and dedication of the founders”, says Sidler. “Solutions like Lunaphore’s are required in a world where medicine is becoming more personalized and determined by panels of biomarkers”. Michael is a co-founder and partner at Redalpine and contributes his longstanding experience in as an entrepreneurial life science investor, with his background in Biology and Diagnostics.

    Lunaphore’s core technology, which has been developed at EPFL during the last 6 years, is called Microfluidic Tissue Processor (MTP). The MTP increases the speed and accuracy of basic processes required to implement diagnostic assays on tissue samples like solid tumors. The first application is going to be on searching signatures of certain proteins in tumor tissues, a procedure known as immunohistochemical analysis. A set of clinical studies has already been conducted with 76 breast cancer patients, and the results showed that Lunaphore’s platform can perform such analysis within 5 minutes when compared to 2 to 8 hours for current standards. Furthermore, the obtained diagnostic results are 90% more accurate than methods used in a state-of-the art pathology laboratory. Lunaphore has already a few prototypes are under validation in collaboration with key opinion leaders and players in the field.

    The tissue diagnostics market that Lunaphore is aiming at is worth a few billions and is growing fast. Market researches show that the increasing age in population and the high number of new biomarkers that are being discovered will generate an even larger market with a higher growth rate. “This puts us in a great position as a technology provider” estimates Ciftlik. By combining accuracy, speed and automation, Lunaphore wants to be the core technology provider on the international scene.

    About Lunaphore
    Lunaphore Technologies SA was incorporated in April 2014 by Dr. Ata Tuna Ciftlik, CEO, Diego Dupouy, CTO, Déborah Heintze, COO and Prof. Martin Gijs, as a spin-off of Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss institute of Technology in Lausanne) with the vision of building tissue diagnostic platforms for –omics era. Since its incorporation, Lunaphore has been supported by various programmes like Innogrants by EPFL, Venture Kick, venture leaders and venturelab, Start-up Coaching of Commission of Technology and Innovation (CTI), SystemsX.ch initiative, Fondation pour l’Innovation Technologique (FIT), SPECo & Innovaud initiatives of Canton de Vaud. In addition, Lunaphore has won more than 12 awards in the national and international scene, including PERL Prize (Lausanne Regions Entrepreneurship Prize), IMD Start-up Competition, and is the youngest start-up in the 2014 TOP 100 Swiss Startups by IFJ and Handelszeitung, entering the list ranked 35th (startup.ch).

    Additional Links
    More about Lunaphore
    Read the interview of CEO Ata Tuna Ciftlik about the great news

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    The tissue diagnostics market targeted by Lunaphore (from left to right: CEO Ata Tuna Ciftlik, COO Déborah Heintze and CTO Diego Gabriel Dupouy) is worth a few billions and is growing fast.

    Raising money: “You have to play both smart and hard”

    Mi. 29.04.2015, 11:00

    Lunaphore was founded in 2014. On April 29th, 2015, the EPFL spin-off just announced closing its first Series A financing round of CHF 2 million to develop its revolutionary tissue diagnostics platform. We met CEO Ata Tuna Ciftlik to discuss the great news – and learn more about how he feels about the startup adventure he jumped into after his PhD....Read more

    What are the origins of Lunaphore?
    We created Lunaphore in April 2014. However, until the company incorporation, there was a period of preparation where I have found (and agreed with) my co-founders, acquired basic knowledge and secured some funds that would finance the first year of the project. This preparation period, indeed, dates back to April 2013, the date of my major PhD publication.

    Why did you decide to embrace the entrepreneurial path?
    This is a question that is asked rather very often, and also a very hard one. I would need a few pages of bullet points to explain myself, since decision-making (I am no exception) is a process with many emotional and rational reasons. Briefly, the most important emotional reason seems to be the gravity of adventure and challenge, the instinct of leading and exploring. The rational reason is the size of the opportunity in both the earning and the learning when compared to alternative jobs. There is no other setting that you can simultaneously learn and earn that fast and that much.

    You just raised CHF 2 million to develop your revolutionary tissue diagnostics platform. Tell us a little bit about how you experienced the process of raising your first substantial funds.
    Raising money is a probabilistic pipelining process, where you have to play both smart and hard. We had a preparation period, during which we sharpened our ideas, prepared some material and action plan. In the following, we could easily attract attention and create enthusiasm among investors. After 2-3 months we started pitching, the number of appointments and presentations we had to attend all over Switzerland overwhelmed us. We, 3 co-founders, even had to be split between events taking place at the same moment. The hardest part was the closing of the deal and it was particularly different than creating the demand. It was a whole different world for “first time entrepreneurs” like us, and we had to both learn and succeed simultaneously. The dynamics of the deal closing and the anticipation power was an educating experience to me.

    Can I ask you how will the money that you have just raised be used?
    In the solid part, we will work towards our first product. In the soft part, we will add people with complementary skills and experience, and finally, build a competitive company structure that can overcome the significant challenges awaiting us.

    What is your vision for your company?
    Nowadays, we hear the word “personalized medicine” almost every day, and tissue diagnostics is one of the core enabling elements of it. However, the tests based on tissue sections are so painfully long and expensive, only the 3-4 high priority biomarkers can be checked per patient. We have the enabling technology to break this limit since we are fast (5 minutes vs. a few hours) and accurate with the potential of full automation. Our vision is to build a standardized tumor analysis platform for all biomarkers, like today’s blood analyzers.

    What market and first countries do you target?
    The tissue diagnostics market that Lunaphore is aiming at is worth globally a few billions and is growing fast. Our first targets are Germany and the USA. Germany is geographically close and the largest medtech market in Europe. USA is by far the largest market that we can address. Plus, existence in the US is critically important, as most potentially we’ll be acquired by an American multinational.

    Among many prizes and recognition, you are in the TOP 100 Swiss startup ranking (as youngest startup in Romandie, and among the 5 best), won Venture Kick stage 3 and were a venture leader (USA) in 2014. How did the TOP 100 help you so far (i.e. to raise money) and what have been the benefits of the Venture Kick initiative and venture leaders program for your company?
    The TOP 100 Swiss Startups ranking was quite a good leverage for our credibility. When it comes to working with a young startup, all industry players need some referral from external reviewer. Entering the list at rank 35 as the youngest startup was an incredible PR. A startup always needs cash and visibility among investors and partners. This is how it stays alive.

    Venture Kick was both of them. Just being a kick stage winner is already good to increase credibility in the Swiss startup scene. Nevertheless, I got the real benefit when I got “smashed” at the kickers camps (laughs)! If you listen instead of crying, it vaccinates you against all the odds that might kill you in the near future. It hurts but makes you stronger.

    Before venture leaders, I had psychological barriers making me think that entering to US market is a rather impossible or a remote goal. When on the return flight, the US was the first international goal in our business plan. I have also learned that in the US, the perceptions of risk and assessment criteria are primarily different that what I saw here. Now, I’m preparing Lunaphore to be “US ready” for upcoming fundraising and partnership deals.

    When you started, did you think you would have so much success, in so little time?
    For sure, we wanted to be successful and believed in ourselves. Yet, nobody can be 100% sure when it comes to a future success. We have done all the work that we think that is necessary and we can afford. We worked hard and smart. We have increased the probability of the success as much as we can in a limited amount of time with little money. Despite all these, many factors that are beyond our control can play a role in our success. Taking fundraising as an example, you can build a great project and team, yet sometimes, investors may think that is not the right moment for the investment, or sometimes they have just invested in a company in the same field and they think it is too risky not to diversify their portfolio. I can give you hundreds of other reasons beyond our control and influence decision makers. So to answer the question: We always believed in ourselves, and at the same time, doubted if we’ll ever succeed.

    How many employees do you have (when you started and now)?
    In April 2013, it was alone. Now, 2 years later, we are 7.5 FTE’s in addition to around 20 people in our collaborative network like advisors and scientific collaborators.

    Additional Links
    Read Lunaphore's media release about its financing round (29.04.2015)

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    L.E.S.S. started with two people (Yann Tissot, CEO, and Simon Rivier, CTO). Their first financing round will help them grow to more than 12 people and boost their sales.

    Interview with Yann Tissot, CEO of L.E.S.S.

    Mo. 27.04.2015, 10:00

    Lausanne based L.E.S.S. started in 2012 with only two people. Three years later, the company employs six employees, won the most prestigious innovation and business awards in Switzerland and is ranked 2nd in the TOP100 Swiss Startups. On April 28th 2015, L.E.S.S. announced closing a CHF 3.0 million Series A financing round and is ready to boost the revolution of lighting further. ...Read more

    Hello Yann, and congratulations for the great news! Why did you decide to embrace the entrepreneurial path?
    I think I was born entrepreneur in a sense that I always chose my different jobs with curiosity, passion and commitment. Unfortunately, I never met an inspiring boss such that launching my own venture was a logical way of living an exciting professional life.

    If I am not wrong, you raised CHF 800’000 in seed money through non-dilutive competitions and startup support over the past years. Now that you’ve raised your first round of CHF 3 million, how do you look back at your initial seed funding strategy?
    I think you have the financing strategy that you can afford at the time you are looking for money. In our case, we have an industrial project where the risk is to stay forever in the “chicken-and-egg” configuration: The customer wants a working product that requires significant product development and investors want clear indicators on sales at a very early stage to decide on financing.

    Unfortunately, we needed key infrastructures to build our first products and subsequently address our first customers. In other words, addressing our market was costly with a long-term ROI (return on investment) which is not the ideal constellation. Therefore, we did not have much choice: We needed to finance this infrastructure whatever the mean and winning all these prices was the chance we had to catch.

    Switzerland is fantastic for pure seed money and I am glad we seized these opportunities, and that we have been lucky enough to win sufficiently prizes to finance a part of this infrastructure needed and get out of the “chicken-and-egg” loop.

    Do you plan to raise more money in the future (and was this first round difficult)?
    Yes, the plan was always to raise money and this for three reasons. First, we need a costly production infrastructure at a too early stage to get any standard bank loan. Second we are active in high volume markets where you need to get over a critical production and sales volume in order to be cash positive. Finally, the sales cycles of the industry are pretty long such that they impose cash flow spikes to the company that can kill it at an early stage.

    Obviously, it was difficult to raise money because of the three reasons mentioned above. In addition, the world of hardware components, moreover in fast growing markets, is dominated by companies located in Asia. This makes it difficult to find financing in the western world.

    Besides VI partners, venturelab’s network, via its Founders Cash Pot, contributed to L.E.S.S.’ first financing round. What is your feedback about venturelab’s contribution, and the novelty that our program brings in the Swiss startup investment scene?
    Raising substantial funding is very challenging in Switzerland, particularly in the hardware field. Gaining the support of successful Founders with solid financial capacity is essential. As former founders, they understand the entrepreneurial dynamics and what it takes to build a global company. venturelab’s approach connects founders in a straightforward and efficient manner.

    Among many prizes and recognition, you are Switzerland’s second startup in the TOP 100 Swiss startup ranking (the best in French speaking part of Switzerland), won Venture Kick stage 3 and were a venture leader (USA and China). Take the TOP 100: How did it help you for example?
    We did not have much money dedicated to marketing and sales and the TOP100 gave us a boost in visibility and credibility. Customers in our industry may sometimes be reluctant to enter into discussion with startups that future is not necessarily secured. Being selected nr. 2 in Switzerland by experts allowed to decide some of our customers.

    About recruitment: How many employees did you start with and how many do you have now?
    We started with two people, Simon Rivier and I, and are six employees today. I am proud that the payroll is entirely covered by our early turnover. The financing round will help us to grow to more than 12 people and boost our sales.

    Additional Links
    Read L.E.S.S. media release (28.04.2015)

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60 venture kickers made it to the TOP 100 startups

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  • 60 venture kickers made it to the TOP 100 startups

    Each year, startup.ch launches the TOP 100 STARTUP AWARD in cooperation with the Handelszeitung. From over 100,000 young companies, the 100 most innovative and promising Swiss startups are picked by top startup experts.

    Check out the TOP 100
  • Kick your startup idea to success with venture kick

    venture kick helps potential entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to win up to CHF 130,000. Moreover, startups can use the know-how of experienced experts and entrepreneurs and be granted access to a network of investors.

    More
  • Swiss startups ready to take over the World.

    The venture leaders have a clear-cut goal. They envision themselves as global players and want to take the first step to their global expansion. The ten-day business development program is specifically structured to help them achieve this goal.

    More
  • The first address for Startups in Switzerland

    More than 50.000 startups were accompanied by the IFJ. A little more then 25 years ago, we have made it our mission to guide these entrepreneurs on their way to successful businesses. So they can develop their role as a part of the Swiss economy.

    More