Cheese, Chocolate, Cuckoo Clocks… and Now Startups

By David Knight |

Cheese with holes, Toblerone, cuckoo clocks and neutrality – could we soon be adding innovation to the Big List of Swiss Stereotypes? The cream of the startup crop from Switzerland were in Berlin this week to raise some awareness, hosted by Rollfeld and CTI Invest.

They pitched in front of a select audience at Soho House, but not before a round table discussing Switzerland, Germany and how they differ featuring, amongst others, Swiss-born Berlin-based investor Christophe Maire.

Amongst the topics covered was the cultural differences between the two countries which, to these ears at least, seem rather minimal, especially when talking about how to roll out a startup internationally. But it was nonetheless good to see that creativity is seemingly alive and well in Zurich, not a city usually identified as being startup-friendly.

The pitches, like the startups themselves, were solid efforts, without anything that really stood out. But there were plenty of investors in the audience; a sign, perhaps, that they are taking Swiss startups seriously.

Among the services on display were Getyourguide, a platform for tourist activities, app discovery tool Appaware and its Playboard product, Web content curator Squirro, news aggregator Newscron, the unfortunately-named Gonnado – helps you ‘do stuff’ with people – personal music TV platform Rayneer and Gbanga, which Silicon Allee featured earlier this year.

There was also Questli, a startup which looks at the gamification of brands and life.

It was an interesting event, especially as more than one of the entrepreneurs there indicated afterwards that they are planning on moving to Berlin. It makes perfect sense; the German capital is cheaper and perhaps more startup-friendly in general than the likes of Zurich, yet there is a common language and, despite what some German speakers may think, a very similar culture, including in business.

To misquote Harry Lime: 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? Well, some interesting startups, at least.

So long, Holly.