Between the Swiss Alps and the Silicon Valley
24 Mar 2015

Between the Swiss Alps and the Silicon Valley

There is no doubt, Silicon Valley is

24 Mar 2015

There is no doubt, Silicon Valley is the best place for budding tech startups looking to take their business to the next level. It is home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, as well as thousands of tech startup companies.

What can we learn from the Silicon Valley as Swiss entrepreneurs and investors? Could we copy their business model or should we adapt it to a more European, or even better a Swiss, environment? What we know for sure is that Swiss startups do not make enough use of the opportunities of globalisation.

Nowadays, there are significant differences between Switzerland and California and there are some negative aspects of Silicon Valley which Europeans would not be willing to accept.

Analysing the different environments step by step, we can compare the culture and conditions for startups in Silicon Valley and Switzerland. The success of Silicon Valley startups can be explained in part by, for example, access to venture capital but also the implementation of legal frameworks. For example, in Switzerland, laws are formulated in order to prevent damage while in the U.S, laws are enacted to facilitate the growth of companies.


The different characters of young enterprises are also a factor. Silicon Valley startups are ‘need seekers’, they tend to concentrate on gathering the deepest insights possible into both the articulated and unarticulated needs and desires of their customers. Their most important goal being pioneers in the market. Swiss startups are more often ‘technology drivers’ and depend to a greater extent on their technical expertise to develop attractive products and services.

The characters of the founders follow the same path: US founders tend to be pioneers, they are insistent and are talkers. Swiss founders work hard and are more disciplined, but are often too restrained. These differences point to the potential for improvement in Switzerland, but their diversity also shows that it is not possible to copy wholesale the innovation system of Silicon Valley.

In addition, we can easily notice there are some adverse side-effects of this system, which Europeans would not be willing to accept. For example, the vast number of employees who cannot afford to live in the area and are forced to commute over long distances every day, contributing to the social divisions in the Valley. In addition, the region is dependent on the fate of the software industry and currently has a relatively high unemployment rate, compared with Switzerland, to about 10%.


It’s evident that conservative market economies and the liberal market economies are very different. and Switzerland should not try to imitate the Silicon Valley. What’s missing in Silicon Valley is building sustainable long-term businesses. Everybody expects things to happen in three to five-year turnaround time. But Raiffeisen or Nestlé in Switzerland has a different approach. That’s why the healthcare industry presents immense opportunities in Switzerland.

These companies need long-term planning. The top 100 health software companies with 50 million or more revenue aren’t fast-burners. Most of them take the time to obtain 50 million in revenues and by then, they are firm and solid.

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