Mike Baur: From Banker to Entrepreneur
Mike Baur had the standard Swiss ambitions: go to business school and become a banker. He graduated from the University of Bern with a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance and then went on to earn an MBA from the University of Rochester. He also received an Executive MBA from the University of Bern.
His climb up the banking industry was swift. He started off at UBS Wealth Management and ended up as an executive board member at an elite private Swiss bank. After 20 years, however, the banking industry began to lose its allure. The issues were larger: there were more regulations and low interest rates. The entire Swiss banking industry had taken a hit.
Disenchanted, Mike Baur left to attend to his entrepreneurial itch. In 2014, he started his company Swiss Startup Factory with his partners, Max Meister and Oliver Walzer. The company seeks out Swiss entrepreneurs, provides mentoring and training services, and then helps fund their ideas. The goal is to see a birth of new businesses in Switzerland. In fact, the word “factory” in the company’s name alludes to how a factory churns out large numbers of products. In much the same way, Baur says, his company can be likened to a factory churning out businesses. This is his vision, at any rate.
Swiss Startup Factory (SSUP) also holds pitch contests where entrepreneurs are encouraged to pitch their ideas to investors. The winner often receives substantial investments. After watching the market for years, Mike Baur offers sound advice to startups wanting to put their product on the market: Build a prototype, put it on the market, and then let the market tell you what it wants and needs. Once you get validation from the market, develop the product further.
In the same year he started SSUP, Mike Baur also started Think Reloaded, a financial consultant company which offers financial advice. His day-to-day activities revolve around running the two companies and raising funding for SSUP. Baur is keen to point out that the success of SSUP depends heavily on the fact that it is independent and not tied to a larger institution. Its decisions, as a result, do not face conflicts of interests. Nor are they hindered by political agendas.
The Swiss Startup Factory is based in Zurich.