Mike Baur has come to realize the economic wave of change has come to Switzerland, and that wave is going to be through empowering new entrepreneurs to build their businesses. With the founding of disruptive businesses like Uber, Saildrone, Aerofarms and ClassDojo, it’s becoming apparent that the future is now for every country in the world, including Switzerland which is now in the process of diversifying out of banking. At Mike Baur’s company the Swiss Startup Factory, he and a network of investors basically take soon-to-be entrepreneurs and their business plans through a testing period, and if they can pass it they will become operational.
Mike Baur didn’t begin in the university job fairs or offices of the SSUF, but instead was a part of the old guard of Swiss banking for many years. he started out as an intern at UBS Bank and it became apparent from early on that he had a high investment acumen. Even while still in his 20s, the bank’s affluent investors remarked about how well Baur managed their portfolios. Baur might have kept at his post at UBS until retirement, but a lot of changes came in 2008 when the US housing crisis spilled over into Europe. As loans and credit started to decline, UBS had to start closing offices and that included Mike Baur’s branch office, so he left for Clariden Leu Bank. He remained at Clariden Leu for about six years, but once again he quit banking because he found the industry to be no longer appealing, and he felt the stiffening of government regulations was preventing him from helping clients effectively and failed to allow banking to adapt to the changing environment.
Mike Baur got the idea for the SSUF from visiting the University of Zurich and other institutions where he saw business ideas at work. His friends Max Meister and Oliver Walzer joined in his vision for turning these new ideas into fully operational companies, but they knew they were going to have to get the proper backing from financial leaders with deep pockets. After reviewing how the SSUF program would work, Goldback Group and CTI joined in, and by late 2014 the SSUF was up and running. Mike Baur also founded Think Reloaded and sometimes hosts startup pitch competitions designed to get entrepreneurs to think outside the box. He also brought an office space program to the SSUF to provide more resources to SSUF graduates.