Countries all over Europe are building their own Silicon Valleys, and the financial industry stands to benefit especially with the digitization of money movement. Mike Baur says the digital revolution has presented a new opportunity for financial experts in Switzerland where it is really taking off. His current job as executive chairman of the Swiss Startup Factory is to identify good investments in unused ideas for apps and digital-based businesses. What led to the discovery of wealth to be found in these unusual ideas was his disillusionment with banking and subsequently leaving it. It had a few minor setbacks at first, but Baur says it was well worth the decision.
Mike Baur had long thought that Swiss commercial banking would be his entire career. When he first started learning banking in 1991, the promises were great as to how far he could go with it. Baur picked up the basics of large fund management and advising on commercial loans pretty quickly. By his mid 20s he was already promoted to a higher management role, and the executives at UBS where he worked were giving him great recommendations to their clients. Baur was given the ultimate position in 2011 as a managing director at Clariden Leu and their parent bank Credit Suisse, and it looked like he would be coasting to retirement from there.
Mike Baur had noticed large changes in banking and finance laws after the housing crisis of 2008 brought in reforms. It became much harder to do business and open new high level accounts than it had before for Baur, but he also started feeling it was time to do something else besides sit at an office desk. So in 2014 Baur raised the capital to start the SSUF and met with former finance executives Max Meister and Oliver Walzer to form the system for accelerating startups. What Baur and Meister usually do is travel and network with college students and potential entrepreneurs to get a feel for whether or not their ideas are viable for the SSUF. If they are, they will be accepted into a 3-month program in which the ideas will be taken through a planning stage and given a chance to reach the action stage. After passing a range of tests and then launching from the SSUF portfolio, Baur helps the entrepreneurs by providing office space free for a few months through the 360 program.