Mike Baur has a job he considers to be fun as executive chairman of the Swiss Startup Factory accelerator, and his latest activity was being a part of a digital business activity being conducted at Feldschlösschen, the largest brewery facility in Switzerland. According to an SSUF press release, what many attendees were doing at this brewery was creating new ways to sell distribute beer, among which was the use of more digital platforms. The categories that were being tackled at the beer hack included digital, product and market, and overall experience. Executives from the brewery offered insights to the attendees, and even mentors were there to help them turn those ideas into business plans. One of the big winners of this hack was “Ü-BEER,” an app that allows users to order beer with a fast delivery.
Mike Baur has done more than beer hacks and contests. The idea behind what he does is to harness the technological prowess of young people everywhere and turn it into powerful business ideas dominating the Swiss landscape. Information technology and internet of things ideas certainly dominate most of the SSUF’s portfolio and programs, but there are many other regular retail, financial and energy ideas that are brought to the table. Baur, his colleague Max Meister and the rest of the SSUF team want entrepreneurs whose ideas are novel and groundbreaking but also realistic to be admitted to the SSUF. The idea is to bring these ideas to business phase within just a few months.
Mike Baur doesn’t have a specific schedule to what he does currently which is a huge shift from his previous career. In 1991, he became an apprentice to one of Switzerland’s largest banks, Union Bank of Switzerland at the age of 16. He was hoping to join the ranks of those who had gone from the internship program to making huge salaries as executives in banking, and he actually went pretty far in that endeavor from his beginning and managerial role at UBS to commercial managing director at Clariden Leu. But 24 years in banking was enough for Baur and he left because the laws that followed the recession made it difficult for bankers, and he was more interested in making his paycheck his own way. The SSUF was founded in 2014 and has partnered with the University of Zurich, Red Bull Media and Helvetia Investments. Companies have come out of it at an astounding rate so far.