Mike Baur: Not Taking No For An Answer
Over 20 years ago, most people in Switzerland probably wouldn’t have remotely considered leaving banking to take on risky investments in startup companies. But that’s something Mike Baur, co-CEO of the Swiss Startup Factory in Zurich, Switzerland decided to do in 2014. The SSUF is a business accelerator company whose mission is to take three months to turn an early-stage startup company into a dynamic enterprise through what Baur has called a “boot camp” program. Thus far it’s panned out quite well for Baur who has seen companies like IDUN Health Tech, Velvet Parking and Lari hit the peak of growth lately, and many others have come before them. So what drove Baur to go this route?
Baur felt no longer at home with banking, the career he had started with. Baur has quite the educational background with two master’s degrees from Rochester University in New York, and one from the University of Berne, Switzerland. But before he achieved those even, he was an apprentice at UBS Bank. His plan was to follow the directions set forth by a senior manager who told him what he had to do at each step to earn a promotion. He was promoted several times at UBS and later became an executive at Clariden Leu and Credit Suisse. But it was after 2008 when banks began suffering from the great recession and going through leadership issues that Baur began to reconsider his path.
In 2014 at the age of 39, Baur quit banking after 20 years. He began looking into startup programs he could independently run, but many people told him it wasn’t likely to work since there were already government programs that did similar things. But Baur wouldn’t take no for an answer, and after teaming up with a group of investors and CTI Investments, the SSUF became reality. It’s not just anyone who gains access to the SSUF, but those who Baur and his colleagues see as being able to stand firm against fierce competition and obstacles in the marketplace. The three months are rigorous at the SSUF, but very rewarding to those who complete the program when they receive seed funding as well as being able to secure office space for their operations.