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Building your Business in Switzerland

On a bright Saturday morning, about thirty women came together to listen to the voice of Isabelle Siegrist of Sandborn. The topic of the day was Building your Business in Switzerland.

Starting a company is difficult. Imagen you are not swiss and not familiar with the swiss law and all the little details you have to keep in mind when starting out. Isabelle, a swiss citizen and an HSG graduate, is the perfect person to not just give insight into how to form an idea out of a million ideas, but also to guide us through the weird landscape of swiss law and all the “boring” accounting and finance stuff.

Before Isabelle started her talk, she wanted us, women, to tell the others about our background, why we attend this meetup and what questions we have for her. The presentation round took a while, but it was worth the while. So many interesting backgrounds, some more business related, some more tech related. So many ideas and innovations. And so many questions. Some of the attendees had already started their own company, others were still in the “figuring out the idea” phase. And indeed, many mentioned that narrowing down the many ideas to one thing with which you can start a business was actually the problem they were facing right now. Others were already worrying about accounting, finance, legal and marketing. And I think all the women were relieved to see that women in tech actually exist :)

Isabelle’s talk consisted of two parts. The first part focused on how to clarify your business idea. How to sell it and how financing actually works. Depending on whether you intend to sell your company one day or not, your business model and your financing will be different.

But first things first! How do you get that one idea? One of the things Isabelle pointed out to us is to not be shy about our ideas. Explore them for a little while, think about what your product or service would be. What would your product be like? How would costumers get your product or your service? Where lies the value of the product? The value of the product is the reason the client buys it. And while we talk about the costumer, who is he or she? Narrowing down your target costumers is also an essential step in the process.

Once you have your idea, you should try to sell it to potential costumers. And because people like to look and feel, the “test selling” will go a lot easier with a prototype. Depending on whether you are creating a service or something more investment heavy, your prototype will be quite expensive. But do not worry. A very impressive example was mentioned by Isabelle. One company produces exo-sceletons. Instead of building a prototype, they hired a designer and an artist to create a picture of their future product. They then created a flyer for the product and sent it to potential buyers. Amongst them Audi, BMW, etc. And guess what? Audi responded and said they would be interested. Without one screw or piece of metal, they already had their first customer!

Another thing to keep in mind when starting your start-up is the financial impact on your life. Remember the good old days, back when you were at Uni and couldn’t afford a thing? Well, that’s pretty much where you are heading when funding a company. So maybe going out with your full salary every month colleagues will be a little hurtful. Surround yourself with peers. Try to network and find others, who have just started their company and are in the same position. They will be able to relate to you and to help you during difficult times. If you need a little kickstart in finding peers and people who are also starting a company, Isabelle can help you get in touch!

After a solid two and a half hours of listening to Isabelle, asking our questions and frequent discussions, we all needed a break. This was a great opportunity to get to know the other ladies a little better and maybe find someone to start your start-up with!

The second part focused mainly on the legal part. Switzerland has its very own structure of how companies can be built and what form they can take. Depending on the size of your company, the risk you are willing to take as a private person and the financing you are planning to do, a different legal form will be suitable. I won’t bore you with the details, but I think this part was as confusing for most of us as getting a straight idea in our heads! This — and some info on accounting — took about an hour and at the end, many had to leave early, because the event wasn’t planned to take this long.

Despite the “overtime”, the event was a good opportunity to get familiar with start-ups and their creation and to get a sneak-peak at the confusing world of swiss law. It was also a great opportunity to meet women in tech and to exchange experiences and numbers!

The next event of womenplusplus will be on November 19th this year! We hope to see you there!

If you want to get in touch with Isabelle or need some help with your startup -> this is her web page.

Would you like to read more about coding, tech and data? Head over to Blondiesblog!


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