The CH in the abbreviation DACH is an exciting thing for Austrian startups. After all, Switzerland is an attractive market to expand.
Startups want to expand
17% of Austrian startups want to expand into other European countries outside the EU within the next year – and that means, in addition to countries in Eastern Europe, Switzerland in the first place. In the rich country in the heart of Europe, investors and large companies that could become customers are especially exciting.
And so last week, ten local start-up companies – Delivio, DerAutomat, global.web.shop, goodbag, leadbacker, markta.at, mobile-pocket, temprify, touchbud and Twinster – headed to Zurich in the company of trending topics. Austrian Startup Day Retail “to pitch their business models to Swiss investors and cooperation partners. The goal: Foreign Trade Austria, aws Industry-Startup.Net and the trade association have networked startups with Swiss trading companies to bring concrete projects on track.
Lure commercial giants
“We support Austrian companies in their market entry and partner search in Switzerland. Last year, we were able to support around 1,800 different companies” said Manfred Schmid, Austrian business delegate in Zurich. And there it is important to know the Swiss market well. “Switzerland is not part of the EU economic area, but Switzerland has managed to integrate itself very strongly with bilateral agreements in this common economic area,” said Schmid. “It’s not just about finding investors for a capital or equity investment in Austrian startups. It’s all about, and this is much more important, to connect young companies with potential customers in Switzerland. ”
And there are definitely potential customers in Switzerland. Austria’s western neighbor is not only known for financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies and commodity traders, but also has very large retail companies in Nestlé, the Coop Group or the Migros Group. As a startup hub, Zurich has its nose in various rankings a bit over Vienna, and Zug has a popular location for blockchain projects (such as the Ethereum Foundation).
Simple GmbH foundation
Despite all bilateral agreements with other countries, the Swiss business world is considered to be very self-contained. Anyone who wants to gain a foothold in this small, rich country needs a local team and a Swiss partner who introduces them to the corporate world. “In Switzerland, founding a GmbH is something that is regulated by the market,” says Georg Mihatsch, project manager of the Institute for Young Entrepreneurs (IFJ). There are very many providers who carry out the whole process. “This has meant that you can actually complete all the things you need to reason online,” says Mihach. “Currently you can start with us for free and then pay only the administrative fees of 800 francs.”
What Switzerland can not come up with are subsidies that young entrepreneurs in Austria like to use. “Switzerland has no state funding at all. Switzerland is, in principle, an association of 26 cantons. They all offer some incentive measures, but these are typically incentives to found just in this canton, “says Mihatsch. “These can be tax incentives, but there are almost no subsidies as they are known in Austria. However, there is a very active investor market that may replace it. ”
Docking to the ecosystem
If you want to go to Switzerland, you need first docking facilities. These provide on the one hand Accelerator programs locally, on the other hand Coworking Spaces. “We get requests from all over the world,” says Chris Bargholz, CEO of Swiss Startup Factory. “But so far the tendency is that we prefer German-speaking or those from the surrounding countries like France or Italy, because it is simply easier for the organization. His company offers founders a three-month accelerator program, which also earns 15,000 francs. The important thing is not the money, but the workshops, which are included in the program. “The team can learn a lot by doing that, with the goal of getting the round of financing they need to move on to the next phase. And that’s the value we generate as an accelerator. Not giving the money, “says Bargholz.
It is no coincidence that the Accelerator program takes place in the premises of Westhive – one of the leading providers of coworking spaces in Switzerland. “We have different offers, for startups we are relatively cheap. Since you get a job per month already for 540 francs. And depending on if you need less space, then you’re already at 180, for 5 days, for example, “says Claus Bornholt, founder of Westhive. In Zurich, there are ten to fifteen coworking spaces – compared to other European cities like Amsterdam that is little. But demand is strong. “We are in the expansion phase ourselves. We’re starting to push our limits now, and we’ll be opening our next space in two months, “says Bornholt.