Can It Happen Here? (Swiss Edition)

Wow: a $1 billion cash-and-stock pay-out (although there are rumors it could have been double that) for a firm with only 13 employees and a 17-month history! The spectacular cash-in of Instagram has eyes ringing like cash registers all over, and not just in the US:

Start-ups: Gründen per Mausklick – ein kurzer Vergleich von CH, D, USA und GB:


NZZ Digital

Here, Juliane Leopold of the leading German-language Swiss paper, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, takes a look at comparative conditions in her country, versus the UK and the US, when it comes to encouraging start-ups to thrive and to strive for a similar jackpot.

The short verdict: Switzerland has come a long way, but still lags behind. There happens to be a portal there designed to ease the way for start-ups, called StartBiz, but it won’t actually get your company registered – you’ll have to do that the old-fashioned, forms-and-visiting-offices way. The usual business form adopted, the GmBH, is also legally-speaking not as attractive from the standpoint of investors buying equity interests in a company as is, say, the Limited Company one can form in the UK.

Similarly, there are of course institutions set up in Switzerland to bring inventors and investors together, such as VentureKick (and what do you know, that site is even in English!). But there are similar set-ups in most other places. Compare that to the UK’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, which offers tax-breaks to investors in start-ups. (The article also mentions a “Start-Up Pact” program there that supposedly grants £1,500 to new companies, but I was unable to find any on-line confirmation.) Oh, and it is true that one can do everything towards setting up one’s new company there on-line.

Then there is the US, specifically Silicon Valley. There is no tax-relief scheme in effect there to encourage start-up investments (that I know of; and none is mentioned in the article), but that is probably not needed in view of the many other advantages that continue to make this the world’s premier entrepreneurial hothouse. Foremost among these, as Leopold mentions, is the sheer quality of personnel that gravitate to the business scene there, whether one needs programmers, interface designers, or business executives. Added to that is the remarkably high tolerance for risk present – probably aided by the fact that, in the US, bankruptcy is often a badge of honor while in Europe it is a more devastating failure. There is also an ultra-open networking environment where – if Leopold’s article and the quotes she includes from those who have been there are to be believed – no one worries about whether their great new business idea is going to be stolen. Instead, everyone is just glad to offer a critique and encouragement.

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