Background - 31.10.2022 - 10:05
No other conference offers Swiss SMEs such close proximity to one another! That's the promise of the Schweizer KMU-Tag, which traditionally takes place at the Olma Messen St.Gallen. And this year's theme, "Relationships", was therefore a perfect fit. According to the host Dr. Tobi Wolf, relationships are what give stability in times of upheaval. He presented findings of the recent study from the Swiss Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, according to which, among other things, cooperation and collaboration are becoming increasingly important. In addition to this, according to the entrepreneurs and businesses surveyed, business relationships are becoming more hybrid and digital. Nevertheless, he has no desire for virtual worlds like the Metaverse to replace reality, especially when it comes to to personal relationships.
Moderator Franz Fischlin welcomed Prof. Reto Föllmi, the first speaker. He explained the reasons for the current inflation, such as the lack of globalisation dividends and pandemic-related supply bottlenecks, price-driving economic stimulus programmes and an expansive monetary policy. At the moment there is enormous volatility in prices, especially in producer prices. The national banks need to turn off the money tap and raise interest rates, says Reto Föllmi. But what does that mean for companies? "People have been used to interest rates falling steadily for years now. High interest rates create a new economic environment that needs to be adapted to." He does not believe that the inflation situation will pass quickly, especially as it has now also affected the service sector. However, he also sees opportunities for companies: The wage/price situation would allow for an adjustment of prices if needed. "People and companies can use the 'Inflation' lubricant themselves."
Giada Illardo, the "Tattoo Queen of Switzerland", described her personal success story. As an entrepreneur, the "relationship with yourself" is very important to her. "When conviction drives the passion of the heart, a success story emerges," says Giada Illardo. Her relationship with herself has changed a lot over time , and she has learned the most through failure. Looking back, she would never have guessed all that was to come, but giving up was never an option. She is convinced that "Success is what follows, when you follow your destiny". "My vision was to revolutionise a sector."
To kick off the afternoon, three start-ups presented their business models. Oliver Kofler, CEO of Carvolution, went first. Carvolution wants to remain the market leader in "Car Subscriptions" and has managed to create a snowball effect with intensive marketing that will ensure growth. Founder and HSG alumna Léa Miggiano plays an important role as the "face" of the brand. The growth is also convincing investors: So far, the start-up has raised over 50 million Swiss francs. Stefanie Lopar introduces Meet & Match. Her dating platform stands out because it combines online and offline parts. An algorithm determines how well the singles match, who then meet face-to-face. After this the singles select the interesting contacts online, and if there is a match, the chat function is activated. An important aspect of the business model is the B2B part: Partners such as event venues or restaurants, where events take place, make a contribution to the income generated. HSG graduate, Frederik Isler, presented Anybotics, one of the fastest growing high-tech companies in Switzerland. The largely autonomous walking robots from Anybotics have been developed for industrial applications, where they should, for example, enable preventive maintenance. Challenges include the complex product with its own software and hardware, as well as low fault tolerance among customers. To master these, Anybotics relies on highly qualified employees, transparent leadership, scalable processes and a culture of continuous learning, among other things. Where would those present invest their money? The verdict was clear: 73 percent chose Anybotics.
Master baker Reto Schmid, founder of the label "La Conditoria" in Sedrun, showed how he turned his village bakery into a flourishing business with over 40 employees within just a few years. "I'm an entrepreneur, not a quitter," says the enterprising native of Graubünden. "The important thing is to have a goal and pursue it consistently." One of his goals was to sell one million mini nut tarts a year. In the meantime, he has not only achieved this, but also diversified his product range. As an "innovative product developer", he creates products for retailers, which enables strategic growth. His recipes for success include quality, innovation, flexibility and sustainability, as well as appreciating employees and personal customer relationships.
HSG alumna Jacqueline Badran closed off the session. The entrepreneur and SP National Councillor spoke about her motivation to go to Bern: "To finally launch an SME policy worthy of the name." This is of course difficult due to the great heterogeneity of the SME landscape, but SME concerns simply do not get through to the federal government, she was sad to say. And this despite the fact that no opportunity is missed to praise SMEs as the backbone of the Swiss economy. With the help of some examples, she showed how certain laws were very outdated and hardly SME-friendly. "You also have to force Bern a little to make SME-friendly policies, instead of just talking about it." She therefore called on those present to influence the legislative process. "Build relationships with politics and don't let yourself be blinded by the empty rhetoric," she said.
Images: Roger Sieber/Schweizer KMU-Tag/Swiss SME Day