Where to get the skills you need for your startup journey

In Others, Startup Scene by Sébastien FluryLeave a Comment

It is (or it should be) common sense that the team is what matters the most in a startup. And its ability to execute. Because if you have a rockstars team which fails to work together, well… It doesn’t bring the venture anywhere!

You can be extremely competent in sales or in UX or in software development. But starting is a business is often tricky. You have suddenly many things to learn on the go, alongside working on your product. And no time. Yes, no time. The scarcest resource for startup entrepreneurs is T-I-M-E (well, money comes second and is really close, of course). As an entrepreneur, you only have “priority 1 tasks”… and everything seems urgent. Scaring? But so exciting, too!

How do you get the skills you need as quickly as possible? Yeah, you can read blogs and or other documentation. Sure. You can also ask a friend who did it. OK (but he needs to have time). Or maybe can you invest a bit of time and money to boost your skills with smart mentors?

Switzerland has a good reputation in education. And has also strong entrepreneur training programs. During 8 years, venturelab provided an excellent training program, which was managed by two of the smartest guys on Swiss startup scene (Beat Schillig and Jordi Montserrat – help’ed by their killer team). The Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI – the federal agency of Switzerland) has decided in 2012 to split the national training program into regional programs, supervised by CTI… As well as the academic entrepreneurial programs (venture ideas and venture challenge) are still managed by venturelab, the formerly called Venture Plan program has stopped in 2012. Thanks to the energy of Jordi and Beat, the VentureLeaders initiative (business trip to Boston for 20 Swiss startups) has been saved and is always alive with the help of some foundations.

I’m not a fanatic of centralization, but the choice of splitting a national program in 3 regions is, well, strange. Did venturelab gained to much power or influence on Switzerland tech startup scene? Such a national program had at least 2 amazing advantages regarding to a decentralized  initiative:

  • training is similar throughout Switzerland (hey, wake up, we are competing globally, we don’t need adapted training for Swiss Germans or Romands);
  • networking. The venturelab people know each entrepreneur. And can connect you easily throughout Switzerland (OK, it’s not so big but it still helps)

Venturelab decided not to follow this political decision of splitting the training program. And even didn’t bid for the mandate. It can be hard to understand, but it isn’t: if you don’t believe in something, you have remain true to yourself and have the guts to say “NO”. Respect.

But enough of history, where can you get the skills you need as an entrepreneur, now?

Well, you have 3 consortia dividing Switzerland in 3 regions: Zürich and Eastern Switzerland (+Ticino), Mitteland (Basel to Bern) and Western Switzerland, which is called startuptraining. I don’t know personally the guys running the 2 first regions, but the ones for Western Switzerland are really great. They’ve divided their offering in two 5-days modules:

  • business creation: you’re in the early days of your venture, you need help to structure your venture and your strategy. The first session happened successfully in March and there will be 6 additional workshops this year. There is a few places available for May and June sessions, so don’t wait too long to register!
  • business development: you have a business (not only just an idea/concept/prototype) and you are selling. You need some insights on how to run and scale your company. There will be 2 sessions this year (September + November).

Trainers are experienced professionals, entrepreneurs and active investors covering all aspects of the startup journey. Even if you’ve attended some entrepreneurial courses before, it makes sense to participate. The training takes is a workshop, where you’ll get honest and constructive feedback on your project. It’s always good to have a neutral view on your project and you’d better get it before pitching everyone the wrong way… or with a ridiculous or naive idea!

Both workshops cost CHF 300.- each, but are still highly affordable for a 5-days qualitative training. CTI is sponsoring the workshop, otherwise it would cost around 10 times more.

Last conditions to attend the workshop are to have an innovative idea, technology oriented (no, you don’t need any patent, don’t worry!). And you must apply (not every application is accepted), so care about how you describe your idea and yourself!

Enjoy! And be ready to conquer the world!