What it’s like to attend a swiss blockchain incubator

Denham Preen

April 21, 2020 · 4 min read

TL:DR; It’s great you should apply - here

In October last year, we had the privilege of attending the CV Labs Incubator program as part of their batch 2. As I work from home in this tumultuous time, I thought it was a great opportunity to share our experience. Especially since CV Labs has opened applications for their Batch 3 in October 2020.

Sun setting in ZugSun setting in Zug

The incubator is run in Zug, the heart of the Crypto Valley. Where the ethereum foundation was born and notable blockchain companies like Tezos, Cardano and Bitcoin Suisse still operate. Switzerland itself is another world, where ubers are teslas and it’s immaculate cleanliness makes you think there should be a tier above first world.

The program runs over 10 intensive weeks where they cover 5 core pillars

  • Perfecting your pitch
  • Strategy and team
  • Blockchain and tokenomics
  • Business (marketing, operations, sales)
  • Funding (data room and raising funds)

The first 2 weeks are by far the most hands-on with back to back workshops overseen by Heny, Nicolai and Pavel. By the end of the first two weeks you have a well-refined pitch deck and can pitch your startup upside down in swiss german, not really though, the program is run in English.

The first month after that is focussed on product and technical which consists of a series of workshops. Some I, personally, found slightly too blockchain 101 while others left the marketing founders wondering if zkSNARKs was a constellation or satoshis real name.

The following and final 4 weeks help you traverse the complicated legal and regulatory waters of blockchain and the world of finance and fundraising followed by some practical business essentials like sales and marketing, my personal favorite workshops with I AM DAN RAM.

The incubator came to a close in Davos, during the World Economic Forum, something my dad was particularly jealous of, followed by a final private investor dinner with CVVC’s personal network.

The CV Labs incubator runs deeper than a series of workshops though. The program provides great opportunities to network and get in front of influential people. We had the opportunity to pitch our start-up to the University of Zurich’s blockchain masters graduates, present alongside Glen Weyl at ETH Zurich and in Davos during the World Economic Forum. Along the journey they assign you an external mentor, we were fortunate to be mentored by Emi Lorincz. We even had a visit to CV Labs Lichtenstein which I still kind of think is just a town in Switzerland with their own laws. One of my favorite workshops was ‘founders for founders’. Where the 4 founders¹ of CVVC host an interactive evening where they share stories from their ventures, success’s and ‘fuck ups’.

Lukas and Pascal head the investment decisions, both with impressive education and career backgrounds, and are in charge of choosing the cream of the crop startups worthy of CVVC funding and the CV Labs incubator.

They have a sensible valuation strategy where they invest based on the stage of your startup’s commercial development rather than some complicated discounted cash flows on an early-stage venture. Thus they categorize startups into two tiers, early-stage and early stage with a little more traction. It’s clear that these aren’t strict rules though and that they evaluate each company on an individual basis.

At the end of the program, you come out with a killer pitch, a rock-solid business plan, a minimum viable product / minimum marketable product and on a personal level, astute for any future meeting with an experienced investor. A robust foundation, well suited to raising your next round.

Additional links:

[1] Four CVVC founders: Olaf Hannemann, Marco Bumbacher, Mathias Ruch, Ralf Glabischnig

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Denham Preen

Lover of bamboo shoots, foraging and shaddy branches
You can connect with me via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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