Mike Baur is a former bank manager turned venture capitalist and entrepreneur coach who is working to spur the growth of Swiss business startups. He co-founded the Swiss Startup Factory just a few years ago to be an incubator for bringing the plans of up and coming entrepreneurs to execution phase, and an accelerator that can give them the capital they need to mature in only three months. Baur founded this company on the basis that it was time for the Swiss economy to adapt and encourage its business community to invest in new technology and take risks on its younger generation. There’ve been many disruptive companies that have started out in the SSUF portfolio which are now independent in cash flow, but some current companies Baur supports are Base 58 Capital, Snowcookie and Evolute.
Mike Baur’s movement into the digital startup investment industry came after over 20 years in banking. In Switzerland, going into a professional occupation of any kind is a little different than the US because young people start out in apprenticeship programs at age 16, and that’s where Baur was when he began at UBS Bank. Banking at that time was considered the one of the most lucrative professions to enroll in, and Baur was told that if he stuck to a plan he would become a ranking member of UBS and eventually retire at a certain age. He certainly gained the confidence of his superiors during his time at UBS, and by his 30s he was already in a management position. But 2008 came during the height of Baur’s time at UBS and eventually closed the branch Baur was working at. Baur did go to Clariden Leu for several years, but Baur noted that things had changed in banking and not for the better.
Mike Baur decided it was time to look at where the millennial business community was headed in Switzerland, and build a company structured around it. The SSUF gained the support of other investment gurus like Max Meister who currently serves as CEO, and firms like the Goldback Group and CTI. Microsoft’s European division and Red Bull Media also have come on-board to sponsor the SSUF. Basically, Baur put an application process that takes entrants through vetting to see if their ideas is a good one, and if they pass that process, they’re taken through a rigorous 3-month program and if they graduate, they can have office space to work from. So far thousands of startups have become alumni of the SSUF.