Seven promising start-ups, over 100 domestic and international investors, and four hours to shine: this was the first Investor Summit at Zurich Airport. To see how start-ups use the event to their benefit, ETH News accompanied the team from ETH spin-off Archilogic to the event.
An hour and a half before the event gets under way, Dominique Burgauer, Archilogic CFO and COO is already down at the Prime Center testing the technology. This ETH spin-off specializing in automated 3D visualisations of floor plans wants to make the best possible impression. Not even the cold weather that visibly bothers Burgauer can get in his way. For Archilogic, the Investor Summit marks the prelude to the second round of financing - everything has to be perfect. After all, this event is about potential multimillion-franc investments.
In the run-up to the event, Burgauer and Kaspar Helfrich, Archilogic co-founder and CEO, have studied the list of attendees to see who they definitely want to talk to. "We’re not just looking for new investors - visibility and networking are also very important for us," explains Dominique Burgauer. Archilogic, founded in 2014, received an invitation at the start of November - and the team has been preparing their company’s appearance ever since.
This prestigious event is one of five projects to emerge from the DigitalZurich2025 initiative. The partners of the Investor Summit include DigitalZurich2025, the Swiss Economic Forum, Google, Zurich Airport, UBS and the NZZ, as well as ETH Zurich.
"For us, today is about giving innovative spin-offs from ETH and the ETH domain an opportunity to present themselves to potential investors and business partners before the World Economic Forum gets under way," says Professor Detlef Günther, ETH Vice President Research and Corporate Relations.
The start-ups were selected by a jury led by Marjan Kraak, who works at ETH transfer and heads up the spin-off group. "The companies had to display high potential for innovation and growth and be attractive for international investors," explains Kraak. "They should already have the initial start-up phase behind them and, wherever possible, should originate from various industries." Medical-technology company Abionic, sports-shoe manufacturer On, software companies Dacuda and Teralytics, cleantech start-up Climeworks, and food company QualySense join Archilogic at the summit.
Before the first four start-ups get the chance to present themselves in a short pitch, we gain an insight into the possibilities that digitalisation opens up for businesses, courtesy of Matt Brittin, Google’s President of EMEA Business & Operations. In addition, Dennis Just, CEO of Knip AG, explains how his start-up managed to successfully position itself on the market with an insurance policy app, securing an investment of CHF 15 million in October 2015.
Kaspar Helfrich and Dominique Burgauer take advantage of the coffee break to hold their first discussions about Archilogic. Although they still have one hour before they formally introduce their company in a presentation, they carefully plan to use every available moment for networking. Before their pitch, the audience heard from Climeworks and QualySense, as well as the guest speaker - explorer and pioneer Bertrand Piccard.
As the initiator, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard gives an impressive presentation of how he and his partner, André Borschberg, hope to use their solar-powered aircraft to achieve a paradigm shift in the management of raw materials and energy. "Our focus is on cleantech, not green technology." For Piccard, climate change is both a wake-up call and an opportunity to develop sustainable technologies - just as the start-ups are doing.
The time has finally arrived: Burgauer, who came on board at Archilogic as an experienced CFO, presents the start-up in an impressive fashion. He demonstrates the 3D technology and defines the company’s vision and business strategy. Real-estate companies and businesses that can use Archilogic’s software to plan workplaces virtually were clear target groups.
The company presentation goes down well with the guests, both from Switzerland and abroad. Although, for some of the start-ups, the business strategy was perhaps not completely clear, Archilogic and several other spin-offs succeed in winning the audience over with their presentations. Whether the investors want to commit themselves may be a decision that some of them will want to sleep on, but the company has certainly sparked their interest.
"We have definitely met some people who can help us," reports Kaspar Helfrich after the summit draws to a close. He expresses hope that the event will be held again next year, ideally with even more international. Marjan Kraak also sums up the experience positively: "It was great that the summit was fully booked, and I was even able to meet some interesting investors for newer ETH spin-offs."