Being probably the newest entrepreneur in Switzerland I was excited to attend StartupCamp Switzerland ’09 in Basel. I will be running the new XIHA Life office in Switzerland, so this was a great chance to meet to make first contacts with the local startup scene.

I’ve attended several startup conferences before, but this was the first BarCamp style “unconference” for me. The idea is that there is no pre-scheduled program, and most of the people will present something.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make myself to present this time, but I definitely enjoyed the presentations and will surely present something next time around.

BarCamp presentation matrix

 

Suhas Gopinath delivering a keynote

The day started off with an interesting and inspiring keynote by Suhas Gopinath, once titled as the “youngest CEO in the world”. Aged 14, he moved from India to the Silicon Valley and started a company which today runs a multimillion dollar revenue and keeps growing at a rapid pace.

Some of the things he said really made me realize – more than ever before – how much control we have on our own fortunes. Some people may appear to be luckier than others, but ultimately you can do a lot to improve the odds.

During the course of the day I had interesting discussions with Gregory Gerhardt of Amazee about ways to help boost the Switzerland startup scene truly to the next level. StartupCamp is definitely something that is needed, but in addition to that we should have more collaboration with startups from other countries.

I am anxious to learn new things, which is why it is so great to live in yet another country, but at the same time I believe I have a lot to give based on my past experience in various other countries. If we can get more people from other countries to come together, it will be helpful to everyone involved.

Switzerland startups by Gregory / Amazee

One of the interesting presentations was Farley Duvall’s “Why Red Herring Likes Switzerland!” He compared the differences between Silicon Valley and Switzerland. He considers Switzerland a strong contender to becoming the “Silicon Valley of Europe”, but a lot of work needs to be done.

Special thanks to the organizers of the event, StartupCamp Switzerland ’09 was a real success. There were 160 entrepreneurs and investors present, which is more than I would have expected to see. One reason for the high attendance levels much be the cost – the event was free of charge. Yet, in this rare case the old saying “you get what you pay for” turned out to be totally wrong.

There was food – plenty of good food. There were drinks – the day ended at a local micro brewery with an open bar. The quality of presentation was excellent – often your fellow entrepreneurs are the best source of information. I’m glad to see there are companies willing to sponsor a startup event, even during the tough economic times.