Von der Study Tour des CAS Digital Leadership in San Francisco bloggen Dany Schwarzl und Ubi Piccone:

Swisscom Outpost – Lukas Peter by Daniel Schwarzl

Day 3 of our Study Tour started with the 2nd trip to Silicon Valley. For some of us (the ones who already took the Disruptive Technologies course last year), Lukas Peter was a familiar face. He had told us about Swisscoms’ innovation strategy and had given us some insights on their incubator called Pirate Hub which is their inpost in Zurich. That was last November, just before he left Switzerland for the Silicon Valley where he works now as one of five Business Developers for their outpost.

(Swisscom Outpost offices in Silicon Valley)

(Swisscom Outpost offices in Silicon Valley)

He first gave us an overview of the history of the Valley that explained how this fascinating ecosystem of entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists etc. came about. Ironically it was the financial contribution of the military in combination with the networking skills of Frederick Terman (who is called the “Father of Silicon Valley”) that enabled this ecosystem to become what it is today: a trade platform for money, information, technology, contact and process as well as a global disruptive innovation hub and birth place of many household names like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and Uber, just to name a few.

Then he went on to explain how Swisscom is positioned in the Valley, how they work and what their challenges are. In order to set up a successful corporate innovation outpost there are three stages to be considered:

Stage 1: Network & Partner (which is especially valuable if you want to get inspired)

Stage 2: Invest, Invent, Incubate, Acquire

Stage 3: Build Product(s)


(Lukas Peter explaining us the latest trends in innovation co-creation)

According to Lukas, Swisscom is quite strong at Stage 1 but still has difficulties to successfully perform the following two steps. Too big are the cultural differences between a corporate with 20’000 employees that is partly owned by the Swiss government and the startup spirit from the Valley. “Fail early, fail often, fail cheap, succeed sooner” is not a motto that is understood in big corporates. To some extent it is also a question of mentality: “The American guy sells you a Fiat for a Ferrari. The Swiss guy sells you a Ferrari for a Fiat”. This quote by Lukas explains a lot. Another issue is also to find a way to integrate a startup into Swisscom, where processes are usually slow and everything needs to be approved by a steering board. But a telco like Swisscom, who is losing revenue each year in their traditional business, needs to compensate for that and innovate new products. So there is no other choice than to try out new things like Swisscom did in a joint venture with Coop when they launched the new Swiss online marketplace Siroop.

Other issues apart from the mentality are the big distance and the time difference, which makes it difficult to reach people when urgently needed. So Lukas and his team try to raise their voice and stir things up a little. Because if you’re not creating trouble, you’re not creating much.

Plug & Play Tech Center – Laura Marcolin by Daniel Schwarzl


(You better watch where you park)

(International partners of Plug and Play – where is Switzerland?)

(International partners of Plug and Play – where is Switzerland?

Our 3rd visit of the day led us to Plug and Play, who are an accelerator, a co-working space, an investor and much more at the same time. Our host Laura, who is originally from Canada, first gave us a tour around the building and explained that hundreds of entrepreneurs pass through their accelerator programs every year. They are allocated to different verticals. The most popular ones are currently Fintech and IoT, with many startups coming up with new ideas on how to disrupt these markets and hoping for the next big thing. Plug and Play are even an investor and are/were invested in companies such as Paypal or Dropbox. In average, as much as 90 % of startups fail. Plug and Play have a success rate of around 50 % in getting startups funded, which is quite impressive. Their services for entrepreneurs, corporates and investors have proven to be very helpful for all of the parties involved over the last years. Bringing together all these players is really a very inspiring concept and we could certainly use more of that in Switzerland.

Deutsche Bank Labs – Colin Constable by Ubi Piccone

Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-14 um 09.57.38Deutsche Bank Labs enable the Bank to adopt new technologies to enhance its products, services and processes to compete in the digital age. They strengthen the Bank’s internal innovation capability by broadening relationships with technology startups, deepening partnerships with established technology firms, and providing the ability to conduct rapid experimentation.

Deutsche Bank has chosen to build labs in the midst of thriving innovation ecosystems: Silicon Valley, Berlin and London. These are the world’s centers of entrepreneurship, and the labs are embedded in their local technology communities. Deutsche Bank Labs also have teams located in other key business locations including Frankfurt, New York, and Bengaluru.

When you hear Deutsche Bank your expectations are pretty clear. You expect managers with straight top-down strategies and not that much emotions. But if you add a „Labs“ to a company name, it seems to become really game changing. As we came in to the office we felt immediately a clear startup attitude. Colin Constable who is the CEO of Deutsche Bank Labs is a middle fifty American guy with great humor. He and his team (5) run the business in Silicon Valley since 2014. The team members have different backgrounds, like Bank of course, but even Telecom and other IT companies. The first statement of Colin is memorable: „The best people to hire here are the ones who leave great or big companies, ’cause these are the ones who want to really change the game!“ The second was even better: „You guys already know, working for a bank is really annoying.“ Hearing this from a Deutsche Bank employee sounds really funny. Personally, I’m still flashed about the positivity that we found on this location. #swissbankscanyouhearme

Colin explained us their mission in a really structured way and mentioned in these 3 key points what their mission is:

1. Community Building in order to be ready for digital transformation. They already opened three other Labs. Even if there is a kind of competition between them, they really appreciate the colleagues. This is a great opportunity for Deutsche Bank to use internal know-how for the digitalization.

2. Digitize the whole environment. Everybody knows about the existing staples of contracts/documents who will be created daily. There is a big need of great solutions who allow to transform these papers in digital documents, including a storage system and considering even the legal aspects.

3. Culture change / innovation – Deutsche Bank Labs create value by making connections, evaluating solutions and ultimately offering new technologies to be adopted by the Bank. The labs do this by discovering innovative companies, identifying trends and technologies, and in parallel uncovering challenges through stakeholder engagements. When there is a match, the labs experiment to prove the value of the technologies for the Bank.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-07-14 um 14.50.20

Their focus is on the following areas:

  • Digital Banking
  • Personal Finance
  • Cloud Technology & Services
  • API Economy
  • Blockchain Technology
  • Cyber Security
  • Data & Analytics

Their goal is:
The accelerating pace of technology innovation and disruption across industries is resulting in new market participants every day and in many cases challenging established incumbents. Deutsche Bank is embracing innovation as a source of future differentiated value to the clients.

K&L Gates Startup Pitch Night: Focus on Health Tech by Ubi Piccone

IMG_9757It was great to attend this pitch night, the room was even packed with attenders. The focus was clearly on health digital business models. Because of „confidentially“ reasons, I can’t share details about the presenters and their ideas. Instead, I will focus on the way people pitched and what the key requests have been.

Everybody had nine minutes to present their own startup. The business levels of the individuals were quite different. It went from a „cool product idea“ to existing companies who had already raised millions.

The jury, based on four people who are working in the medical section, had clear and though questions. They recognized the key challenges mostly in the same area.

Key questions/tasks:

  • How do you protect your business idea? IP (Intellectual Property)
  • How can you scale you business in the next 12/18/24 months?
  • How do you attract your potential users/customers?
  • What’s your customer strategy?
  • How can you make sure to be smarter, faster and have a better product than your competitors?

A funny part was that the winning pitch received no money reward. The whole event was all about sharing contacts, getting professional inputs and meeting other/similar companies.