Although they work in completely different fields, Aurélien Demaurex (ecoRobotix), Andy Flury (AlgoTrader) and Luc Gervais (1Drop Diagnostics) had one thing in common in 2017: they entered the Swisscom StartUp Challenge. Last October, as winners, they completed a business acceleration programme together in Silicon Valley. Now they look back at an eventful year packed with challenges and success, focusing on business-related and technological aspects, as well as their staff.
Aurélien, Andy and Luc, what were your top three personal highlights of the last business year?
Aurélien: Our team increased from 8 to 13 people, we’ve opened new offices in Yverdon-les-Bains and we carried out large-scale pilot projects in Europe.
Andy: My three highlights were adding support for automated trading of cryptocurrencies to our product, a seed investment round and the start of our development team in Poland.
Luc: We obtained a second National Institute of Health research grant to work with Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, and performed a clinical validation study at Wuxi People’s Hospital in China. And we built up a network in Silicon Valley thanks to the intense week of business development during the Swisscom StartUp Challenge.
What’s currently on your to-do list? What’s next for your start-up?
Aurélien: We will finalise our Series B round (we’re in good shape) and launch four more pilot projects in 2018. Then the biggest item on the list is of course the market hit of our first project by the end of 2018 and everything linked to it, like production, hiring people and so on.
Andy: In short, launching AlgoTrader USA including the NYC office, extending our team to 25 people and increasing our client base by 100%.
Luc: We want to close our Series A funding round in the first half of 2018. Then we will finalise the development of our product, obtain regulatory approval and enter the market in Europe.
What’s gone completely differently to how you planned it? What has gone well and what has gone not so well?
Aurélien: The main difference compared with our initial plan is timing: everything takes longer than expected… For example, we had to delay our market entry to have a more stable product. HR has gone well: over the years, we have recruited a great team!
Andy: The closing of the investment round took quite a bit longer than expected. Two things that have really gone well are growth in revenue and team spirit. On the other hand, we had difficulties finding qualified developers.
Luc: Raising funds from investors has been more difficult and time-consuming than planned. The start-up financing environment in Switzerland is still very limited and has a lot of room for improvement. We were pleasantly surprised to see that healthcare professionals and patients are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about our product.