In today’s interview, we’re speaking to Jonas Augsburger (Computer Science intern), Fränzi Aufdenblatten (Technical Manager), and Marcus Bergagård (Lean Agile Manager), three Swisscom Kickboxers who pitched their way in the Kickstart 2020 accelerator program. This annual program gives intrapreneurs and startups the opportunity to connect with leading Swiss organizations to foster innovation partnerships and develop their business supported by experts from the Swiss innovation ecosystem. We spoke to them about the experience they gained so far, taking risks, and their plans for Kickstart 2020.
Thank you all for taking time today. Why don’t you start by describing your projects in a sentence or two?
Jonas: CliMate motivates people to live more sustainably by providing a community-driven platform that encourages people to take part in challenges that can help the environment, such as shopping at a zero-waste store or traveling by train rather than plane.
Marcus: Roady is a travel app that proactively provides you with real-time suggestions for your points of interest, such as hotels, restaurants, popular sights, and rest-stops, along your road-trip based on your profile and preferences.
Fränzi: The Ginius Way gives you time for the important things in life by taking care of your daily tasks and chores. As a digital butler, it not only provides a place to note your to-dos, but it also organizes and completes them.
“The most important thing for us was to have fun, enjoy what we were doing, and do something good for the planet.”
How did you end up taking part in Kickstart 2020?
Fränzi: The idea for The Ginius Way was born out of our own struggle to manage our daily lives alongside a busy consultant job, with very little spare time. So, in the beginning our working methods were based on our own experience. Then a failed pilot taught us how crucial it is to verify our assumptions about the customer in a structured way. A program such as Kickstart will force us to challenge our own assumptions and sharpen all parts of our business model!
Jonas: In our case, participating in Kickstart 2020 is a great way to speed up the process to market entry. We were already part of the Kickbox program at Swisscom, and it was our coach who suggested participating in an accelerator such as Kickstart. Realizing the potential of the program and with nothing to lose, we decided to put our pitch hats on and tried to impress the Kickstart jury. Amazingly, we were accepted and are now looking forward to this awesome event.
“A program such as Kickstart will force us to challenge our own assumptions and sharpen all parts of our business model!”
Tell us about the jury selection process, you must have been pretty nervous…
Fränzi: I think the most nerve-racking part for us was the “quick-fire” interrogation, where the jury put the KPIs in our business case to the test. I was so relieved once we’d survived that!
Marcus: I was quite nervous too. While I was waiting to start my pitch in the "Control Room" at the Kraftwerk in Zurich, it dawned on me that I should better do the pitch in English... So, I quickly translated the entire pitch from German to English while waiting for the team before me to finish. I finished just in time for my turn. It was a little risky to change things so last minute, but the pitch went well so in the end it was worth it.
Jonas: Ah yes, I remember you hectically typing on your laptop last minute, Marcus! We also took a risk for our Kickstart pitch. As a team, the most important thing for us was to have fun, enjoy what we were doing, and do something good for the planet. So, we decided to experiment with our pitch and put on a little play about CliMate for the jury. However, I must say, there is a fine line between being ridiculous and being entertaining. During our pitch, one jury member laughed, but everybody else kept their poker face. At that point, we were worried that our Kickstart journey might already be over. But the risk paid off, and the jury loved our unique pitch. Now we are super excited to participate in the real deal!
What are your plans for Kickstart 2020?
Marcus: My plans for Kickstart 2020 are to soak up as much as possible from the experience of meeting such interesting and inspiring leaders and connect with other startups from Switzerland and abroad. For Roady, I think Kickstart will be a pivotal moment, giving me new inspiration, great insights, and know-how for the project’s future development and market exposure.
Fränzi: Kickstart is a unique opportunity with so many sources of expert knowledge and opportunities to receive feedback. We are hoping to make use of these resources to build up our business and make it profitable.
Jonas: We are also looking forward to receiving feedback from professionals about the product and its potential, realizing that we might need to pivot to find success. At the same time, we want to continue improving and optimizing our product and adapting it to suit our target customers more effectively. Our ultimate goal for Kickstart is to find a profitable business model in line with our vision and expand our reach. But, Most importantly, we want to do something good for the planet and find like-minded people who share our vision.
These are great final words! Thank you again for taking time today and sharing your experience. We are looking forward to reconnecting soon about your Kickstart journey.