De Vigier Award ceremony, with Nick Hayek!

In Startup Scene by Sébastien FluryLeave a Comment

Every year in June, the De Vigier foundation organizes its award ceremony in Solothurn. This foundation was created by the famous William A. de Vigier to support young entrepreneurs on their way to success.

This edition was the last year as president of Moritz Suter (you know, the business man who founded Crossair). To celebrate the end of his engagement by De Vigier foundation, he successfully convinced Nick Hayek – the “king of watches” – to do a little presentation. For people who don’t know him, he’s the CEO of watchmaking giant Swatch Group.
imageNormally, Nick Hayek never does public presentations. You know, this passionate entrepreneur doesn’t want to show off. But he finally accepted to do a short pitch for Moritz, but also for the region (Swatch Group employs thousands people in the area). I was really pleased to be invited again and to have the opportunity to listen to Mr. Hayek live. Here are some key statements (and interpretation from me) from his presentation.
Nick Hayek stated than there are 2 ways to solve problem:
  1. by elaborating rules (and sticking to)
  2. or by freedom… Freedom to try
Entrepreneurs see chances and risks, but shouldn’t be worried about success and failure. If you keep your child mind and you have fun building things… Seize the opportunity to try something. And motivate your friends to do the same! And don’t stay wannabe entrepreneurs.
What Switzerland needs, it is independent and fresh minds to continue to innovate. And freedom to do it.
Don’t watch entrepreneurs with the traditional managerial view (expectations not reached, reached or exceeded). Just BE SURPRISED by what entrepreneurs can do!
Nick Hayek has also shown a funny little Swatch video about internet time. Yes, you know, Swatch introduced this new concept of universal time, with no time zones, back in 1998. A day is divided in 1’000 (Swatch) beats, meaning that 6 AM is 250 .beats. Forget Greenwich, welcome Biel/Bienne (BMT – Biel Mean Time)… because Swatch is based in Biel, the universal heart of the watchmaking industry. Unfortunately, I cannot find the video on the web (if someone from Swatch is reading… please give me the link!. I loved the final statement of the video…
“You don’t have to understand it. Just use it!”
How could we apply such a motto for entrepreneurship? Let’s try:
“You don’t have to fully understand these crazy entrepreneurs. Just help them.”
That’s only my 2 cents idea, so if you have a better idea (you probably have!), please share it in the comments!
But let’s come back to the startups for which the event was organized. 10 startups (on 180 applicants coming from whole Switzerland) were mentioned, but only 5 got the CHF 100’000.- grant. Here are the 4 industrial startups and the web startup nominated:
And the 5 awarded startups were:
De Vigier seized again the opportunity to reward a personality doing many efforts for entrepreneurship in Switzerland. Patrick Aebischer, President of EPFL, received this honor, which he really deserves. He has just massively transformed his school and Lausanne technology scene. He responded to Mr. Suter’s question about the rivalry between the 2 Swiss Federal Institutes for Technology ETH (Zürich) and EPFL (Lausanne) very wisely.
“Competition is not Zürich. Competition is the world.”

The Board of the De Vigier Foundation changed completely this year and a complete new team is now on board, among other ones Lausanne-based serial entrepreneur (turned VC) Alain Nicod.

Next year, your startup could be one of the startup nominated. Why not? How to apply: visit the de Vigier website and apply. You only have to be less than 45 years old, being full-time committed in your venture, based in Switzerland and have an innovative project (already launched is of course highly preferable!). Remember you have to apply before September, 30th. Good luck!