Fusion startups selection for year 2: behind the scene

by Amelie Janssens

In early April, Fusion opened applications for startups who wish to participate in the acceleration program for 2016-2017. “Fusion season 2” is coming up!

The startups selected for the 2015-2016 twelve months program will leave Fusion in September. Right onwards startups for the second batch will follow in early October for a very intensive first 3 months full-time onsite in Geneva.

After opening the applications in April, Sébastien Flury, the program director, and Guillaume Dubray, the founder of Fusion, went through a first scan of all the files received, making sure the candidates fulfilled the list of criteria required to apply. Among these, the applicants must:

  • be active in wealth management, asset management, insurance, commodities trading – Switzerland’s areas of expertise
  • focus on cyber security, data privacy, blockchain, asset, wealth management
  • present a clear execution plan
  • be incorporated in a safe jurisdiction
  • be hunger for success!

Applicants were offered the opportunity to attend a webinar in early June for a detailed Q&A on the program and the selection process.

The applicants who had passed this preliminary screening were invited to a first round of 15 minutes Skype interview with Sébastien and Guillaume. They were given 10 minutes to present their idea and team, followed by a 5 minutes Q&A. Over 50 startups have been interviewed!

The selected short list of finalists were then invited to a second round of interview with the corporate members, under the same format but in a more structured way (for example, following Guy Kawasaki’s “Art of Pitch” tips) – this is where we step in!

Last week, BNP Paribas (Kim Potvin and Benoît Ratier), Swisscard (Markus Feller), Temenos (Ben Robinson), Notz Stucki (Antonio Mira and Amélie Janssens) all met with Sébastien and Guillaume for this final round of (marathon) interviews. 23 startups over 2 afternoons, the agenda was tight – but Swiss timing was respected all over!


Fusion startups selection meeting room
Fusion startups selection meeting room

A week before, we had received the profiles of the startups, their decks and a one-pager on each. After each 15 minutes Skype interview, we had 5 minutes to individually complete a form to evaluate on a scale from 1 to 5 the team, the opportunity, the business model, the stage of development of the company and the fit with Fusion’s members.

A few days later, Sébastien sent us the combined scores obtained by each candidate based on the members’ evaluations.

We had a final meeting all together last week to finalize the list of the selected participants.

The consensus over the first 7 startups was almost a no-brainer, and after some discussions around the last 3 names to be selected, we rapidly came up with our final list of participants. We ended-up with a quick debriefing lunch altogether (startup-like: take away pizza at Fusion’s open space!).

Overall, we appreciated the high level of professionalism of the interviewed startups. The pitches were well prepared, the business models made clear and the quality of the teams quite impressive. There is a lot to learn here…

At Notz Stucki, we observed a few tendencies:

  • blockchain is becoming more concrete, through specific, targeted applications
  • the notion of robo-advisor is developing: we are now not just talking about algorithms but rather about how artificial intelligence as a whole can help improve business decisions
  • there are more startups in the field of data security – a hot topic for Switzerland
  • some innovative solutions are picking up in the areas of investment suitability, distribution, and smart KYC

At the time of writing this post, the final decisions have been communicated to the short listed participants.

Needless to say we are very much looking forward to welcoming the 2016-2017 selection at Fusion!

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