Mike Baur did something a little unconventional at the time in Switzerland when he left a big bank there and decided he was going to build a business accelerator. Banking has usually been what’s most associated with Switzerland aside from the Alps and its mountain farm tourist scenery, but that’s begun to change in recent years. Foreign investments in Switzerland have started to decline, but that’s given the Swiss people an opportunity to invest in their own future. Mike Baur’s company, the Swiss Startup Factory doesn’t just consider the numbers of what they invest in, but also the ingenuity and creativity on the part of the entrepreneurs and how they can go from brainstorming and creating to leading.
Mike Baur saw a very promising career when he first got into banking, especially after a manager told him that there was a map for going from an apprentice to becoming a high-level manager and eventually having at least a six-figure retirement plan. Baur impressed many of UBS Bank’s wealthy clients over the next 20 years, and the board of directors even recommended he get promoted several times. But in the midst of all this success, the 2008 financial problems that began in the US made their way over to Switzerland and eventually the UBS branch where Baur worked was closed. Baur moved to Clariden Leu and looked to keep his banking career on track while there, but there were several things that changed his mind.
Mike Baur was starting to grow a bit tired of the shifts in the office, the Swiss government started putting more restrictions on who the bank could help with loans, and as the regulations grew Baur felt that the banks were starting to leave certain people out. So he retired from banking officially in 2014 and then began his plan to form a new business investment venture. Some other executives like Max Meister and Oliver Walzer also felt more could be done to make Switzerland a place where disruptive brands could take hold, and through partnerships with firms like the Goldback Group and Helvetia they gathered the seed funding for the SSUF. What Baur says he loves most about this job is not being in the office as much but actually being out and around the young people whose business ideas are always flowing. The SSUF has thus far brought hundreds of businesses out of its portfolio.