How To Launch In Crypto Valley

A Step by Step Guide For Succeeding in Crypto Valley

Photo Credit: Expat Arrivals

I recently wrote an article about why it’s Time To Move To Crypto Valley, where I detailed the reasons the blockchain industry is headed to Switzerland, specifically to Zurich, Zug and nearby Liechtenstein. In this article, I offer a more actionable step by step guide of how to launch your startup in Crypto Valley and the resources you ought to access. This guide is structured as a step by step guide from visiting Switzerland, to getting into an accelerator, setting up locally, joining a community, hiring developers, finding investors, and finally getting your Dapp or DEFI project listed after its built and live on mainnet.

One of the best ways to get connected into Crypto Valley is to attend a conference there. Fortunately you have a bunch of events to choose from this winter season. Here is a short list below for January 2020. So step 1 is pretty obvious, make your first trip to Switzerland and see it for yourself.

Zug - Wine and Vision meetup at CV Labs, every other Friday

St. Moritz - Crypto Finance Conference January 15th to 17th 2020

Davos - CV Labs Blockchain Incubator DEMO DAY and Graduation Party January 21st, 2020, & CV Summit January 23rd 2020

Zurich - Crypto Summit 2020

Pro Tip: Take advantage of the global events such as the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. But do NOT buy a badge for the conference, just get a “Hotel Badge” so you can get past security at the hotels nearest the venue. The real interesting events are all outside the main conference, mostly held on the “Promenade” at the crypto / blockchain talks most of which you can register for, free of charge. This is a great time to schedule partner meetings in a compact few weeks while everyone is in town.

The Crew at Crypto Valley Venture Capital in their Zug Office

Once you have realized you need to move to Crypto Valley the next step is to find a place to office out of and accelerate your project. There are several office spaces, incubator’s, and accelerators to choose from, see the list below for some of the top options. Most of them run seasonal startup batches in the spring and fall, so put your application hat on and fill out their forms below.

Zug: CV VC or CV VC Co-working located right at the heart of Crypto Valley

Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC) — CV Labs Blockchain Incubator’s Application Process for BATCH_02

Zurich: Trustsquare, ChainWork, and Swiss Startup Factory

Geneva’s Incubator: Fongit is part of the Greater Crypto Nation Ecosystem

Thomson Reuters Labs — Incubator Application

Great. Now you are headed to Switzerland. You landed an office or accelerator to get started in. Now time to find a place to live. Get a feel for which area of town fits you and your project by reading this article.

If you need some help to answer common questions, speak to the friendly people of the agencies focused on helping move companies to Switzerland.

Zug — the Mountain View of Crypto Valley

Zurich — the San Fran of Crypto Valley

Greater Zurich Area — check out the entire metropolitan region

Greater Geneva Bern Area — where NGOs, IGOs and tech meet

Pro Tip: The affordable place to get furniture is IKEA to the East or West of Zurich. For food / clothes shopping, Germany is much cheaper. See the Konstanz Shopping centers just 1 hour to the northeast of Zurich.

Now that you have landed, have an office, a place to live, next it is time to get connected in with the many associations and blockchain communities in Crypto Valley. Find your tribe from the list below.

Bitcoin Cash Meetup, Ethereum Meetup Zurich, Bitcoin Association, Crypto Valley Association, Swiss Blockchain Federation, and Greater Zurich Meetups

DevCon 0 Crew

As you grow your startup you are going to need talented engineers and team members. Zurich has a very deep pool of engineering talent from many of the top tech companies in the world. Major offices from Google and other tech giants are headquartered in Zurich, especially for advanced research topics.

You can also hire from the leading Computer Science Programs and STEM Universities in the world: ETHZ, EPFL, UZH, HSR, ZAHW

As things come together for your project depending on which accelerator or location you pick in Crypto Valley, you are going to want to access a local law firm who is savvy in crypto regulation, tax and legal matters, lucky in Crypto Valley you have lots to choose from.

Zug - MME, Wenger & Vieli, MLL, Froriep Some of the first firms to help crypto projects navigate the Swiss Foundation model.

Zurich - MME , Lexr, Pestalozzi, Wenger & Vieli, WWP, MLL, Kellerhals Carrard, Froriep, PWCWalder Wyss

Geneva - Pestalozzi, WWP, MLL, Kellerhals Carrard, Froriep, PWCWalder Wyss

As you get settled in and start building you will want to understand the legal landscape. Switzerland and Liechtenstein have both issued detailed guidance on ICOs, token classifications, exchange licenses and so forth. FINMA is the Swiss regulator and FMA is the Liechtenstein regulator. Liechtenstein has also passed a Blockchain Act which goes into effect Jan. 1st 2020 which offers a great deal of clarity to projects operating out of Liechtenstein. Links below.

FINMA on Stable Coins

FINMA on Payment, Utility and Asset Tokens

FMA in Liechtenstein on ICOs

FMA in Liechtenstein Blockchain Act

While blockchain companies the world over still struggle to keep open traditional bank accounts, in Switzerland and Lichtenstein you have many banking options.

Zurich - Maerki & Baumann, Falcon Private Bank, Helvetischebank, Turicum Private Bank (Gibraltar based with representative office in Zurich),

Liechtenstein - Bank Frick

Crypto Services / Custody- Vontobel (services for institutional clients), Swissquote (Swiss Online Banking and Crypto Products) SEBA (Bank + Crypto Products), Sygnum (Digital Bank)

Additional Resources Here: https://news.bitcoin.com/swiss-banks-are-on-boarding-crypto-clients-and-assets/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2018-10-09/switzerland-embraces-crypto-with-fund-license-for-startup-firm

You have a team, you have been going through an accelerator or built out your product independently. Time for some early stage capital so you can expand. Here is the short list of top investors to pitch blockchain / Dapp projects.

Zug Investors - Yeoman’s Capital Based in Zug (For Dapp / DeFi projects), Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC), Blockchain Valley Ventures (part of the Draper Venture Network).

Zurich, Klosters, Geneva Investors- (Private Investor Event in January), regular Swiss Chapter Meetings of SVBS (top projects invited). The Swiss ICT Investor Club (SICTIC) organizes SICTIC Investor Days in Zürich, Lausanne, Geneva and various locations in Switzerland. Lake Star based in Zurich.

Finally you are have a product, revenue, traction, users, and growth metrics to show your project is valuable. Next its time to evaluate the best way to offer your investors or users liquidity / utility. Or if this a decentralized project and you are releasing the token into mainnet production and need to get your token listed in order to put the product into the hands of more users. Either way see the options below that serve the different token types from payments & software utilities to securities and commodities.

Exchanges / Secondary Markets Live Now: Smart Valor Exchange For Crypto Currencies, Payment / Utility Tokens, and Shapeshift

Brokerages: Crypto Finance AG, Bitcoin Suisse AG, & Tokensuisse AG

Pending Security Token Exchanges: Smart Valor, SDX, & SCX

For this final step in the journey you may want to expand your view to include some of the other friendly European jurisdictions where additional exchanges are based. Depending on the structure of your project you may be able to access markets in London, Berlin, Malta, Gibraltar and even internationally in Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Korea or Japan. Crypto Valley gives you the home base from which you can serve users all over the world.

As for reasons to come to Crypto Valley, I think you will be happiest if you move here for the right reasons. The greater Zurich area is among the most beautiful world class cities anywhere, but it is not yet at the scale of San Francisco. Zug is a super nice suburb, but doesn’t yet have the same level of buzz / activity as Mountain View. If you choose to move to Crypto Valley, you are helping grow a new network effect here and that will take time to grow. I imagine it’s comparable to moving to Silicon Valley in the 1990’s before the bubble.

However, I sincerely believe Crypto Valley is our best chance to live and work in the least censored & most free place in the world. And through this freedom we can extend those benefits to much of mankind the next decade and beyond. And that’s worth being part of.

I’m glad you are headed to Crypto Valley to build a more decentralized, honest and ethical world. Come by my office in Zug when you land in the promise land. See you soon my friends.

In Liberty,

David A. Johnston

Thanks are due to everyone who contributed to this article.

Mark Burger, Marc P. Bernegger, Olga Feldmeier, Ralf Kubli, Josh Zemel, Amit Pradhan, E. David Ellington, Pascal Neupert, Philippe Lucet, Lukas Etter, Pavel Jakovlev, Grace Torrellas, Oliver Feldmeier, and Louis Bisang.

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David A. Johnston

Entrepreneur, Investor, Technologist, Voluntarist, Future Martian Settler, & Evangelist for Decentralization.