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Picture by: Markus Spiske

How would you describe your startup culture in one sentence? This seems like an easy question but in a lot of startups (or companies in general) “culture” isn’t really tangible and just a nice concept. So how can you build a startup culture that your employees feel connected to and why is it even important? And what has a gardening guide to do with it? Before we dive deeper into these topics, let’s first look at some basics to have a common ground of understanding.

What is company culture?

Let’s start with what the definition of company culture is. Startup culture is well known for its perks like fancy offices with motivational posters on the wall, Friday afternoon beer sessions or no dress code. And of course, also at Sparrow Ventures we have certain offers for the team, such as team events, table tennis or snacks in the office. But is that really what a culture defines? …


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Picture by Jonathan Smith

Bringing ideas to life and growing them into impactful companies that are loved by both customers and employees is a process that’s always captured my fascination.

However, at the beginning of my career, I didn’t launch myself into startups right away. I tried the traditional path first, but for me, it wasn’t very fulfilling.

In the search for my true passion, I got to know Toni, a coach at my university. He gave me this one piece of advice that I will never forget: “Silvan, with all the potential career paths that you could follow, imagine who you could become in 10 years from now by following each of these tracks. Then tell me which future version of yourself feels the best.” …


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Picture by Tim Mossholder

Hiring the right people for your startup, especially in an early stage, is arguably the most essential element on its overall road to success. But where do you start, what do you have to look for and what process can you follow in order to do so?

Start with thinking about employee happiness

With regard to people and peoples’ overall happiness, a good source for inspiration to get started is Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory, stating that the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness are what is fundamental and universal.

Based on this, when considering candidates for the long term success of our work together, we should be assessing the ability, motivation and culture fit of the person as well as ensuring that we are providing the autonomy that they need in order to succeed in their job. …


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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co.

The general shift towards a more health-conscious diet has been impacting the food industry for the last few years from the rapid rise of dairy alternatives to plant-based food becoming the new norm. Even though Switzerland was already in flux with the advent of this new era, the Corona pandemic in the first half of 2020, will most likely strongly influence what we eat, how we eat but also the way we are going to interact with restaurants, bars and cafés in the future.

To thrive in the competitive market of changing demands, companies across all around the world are more than ever forced to stay agile and evolve quickly by offering the right food and services that satisfy not only our hunger but also our nutritional and emotional needs. …


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bestsmile Zurich Bellevue

Founded in late 2018, bestsmile, a young Swiss startup is on a mission to make dental correction accessible to everyone who wants it. With clear aligners produced in Switzerland the team around Ertan Wittwer, Philip Magoulas, and Marcel Kubli is taking a new approach and has grown rapidly while creating a lot of buzz with numerous of its boutique-style practices opening throughout the country within a short period of time.

This has fully convinced us and therefore we invested in bestsmile at the end of 2019. …


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Antelope Canyon, Arizona — Photo by Ashim D’Silva

Originally product development, even in the tech industry, was a slow process. You would follow a waterfall process, first doing research, then writing a massive time-consuming product requirement document and then finally handing it over to engineering to be built. Once the product was finally released after many months, what would likely happen was a product that didn’t solve the customer needs and hence not meet business goals.

Fortunately, we have evolved from those days and now we are all familiar with agile and lean development. However, despite the new push towards agile, in the tech industry, we often see and hear about the struggles to see the big picture and creating a data-driven product development process. Therefore, we have created a product series, where we will share one approach that will help you, whether a startup or corporate, to go from discovery to delivery. This also underlines our belief at Sparrow Ventures that, as part of the venture building process, the discovery phase is likely one of the most important elements in the product area, because it is all about experimenting and efficiently finding a way to validate solutions. …


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The approach

At Sparrow Ventures, we follow a very detailed venture building process, where we validate numerous business models in the Seed Stage with the objective to bring several ventures into the Growth Stage each year. If they meet the criteria to progress to the Growth Stage, they receive funding and have the chance to become a fast-growing and successful startup within our portfolio.

During this venture building process, we follow a lean and data-driven approach, where we validate the most important angles of the specific business models. …


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Anja, Venture Architect @ Sparrow Ventures

Be an employee or be an entrepreneur? Many talents would like to go ahead and found their own business and also have the capability to do so, however taking one step further to do so is a big decision. Being an entrepreneur, you will enjoy the freedom to work in the way you prefer and do what you love and make success that you own.

However, as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to avoid the financial pressure, lack of resources or manpower, instability and certain degrees of isolation. If there is a third option, to have all the support and financial stability as an employee, but work freely, create real business and bring real impact like an entrepreneur, this would be an amazing solution for many start-up enthusiasts. …


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Yan, Senior Investment Manager @ Sparrow Ventures

Yan shares his take on why he thinks startups have a strong partner with us on their side, which also links to the reasons he chooses to be a Sparrow.

What kind of startups are we investing in?

We focus on startups that already showed some traction and therefore have already reached a certain growth stage. Typically, we are looking here at Serie-A and Serie-B investment rounds. For this, we are especially interested in B2C and D2C operating businesses in the field of Food & Beverage, FinTech, Digital Health, Last-Mile-Delivery, and Community & Lifestyle.

Why is that the focus?

As we belong to the Migros Group, one of the largest retailers in Europe, we are naturally on a mission to strategically invest capital in startups that make sense for the operations and bring long-term value for the group as a whole. …

About

Sparrow Ventures

Building kick-ass ventures and investing in promising start-ups as part of Migros. Based in Zurich — CH.

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