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Campus - 23.03.2023 - 10:27 

START Summit 2023 sets new standards

On March 23 and 24, the START Summit and START Hack will take place at the Olma Messen St.Gallen. Europe's largest student-organized start-up conference sets new standards in 2023.

Even before the official start of the conference, media representatives and selected founders and other participants were invited to a reception on Thursday evening at the City Hall. City President Maria Pappa welcomed the guests from Germany and abroad. Members of START Global presented some facts about the START Summit 2023: With around 5,500 participants and 20,000 square meters of space, this year's conference will reach new heights. In and around the city of St.Gallen, it should be almost impossible to get a hotel room these days. In addition to the participants in the Olma halls, many online participants may be added, because all panels and keynotes will also be broadcast live via YouTube. As an innovation this year, there will also be public viewing on Kornhausplatz. 

Tips for founders

As a foretaste of the days ahead, two female founders and one male founder shared their experiences with those in attendance. HSG alumna Jennifer Dussilek started her Fintech Finway when she was 24 years old. She met her co-founder back then at the START Summit lunch. Today, the company has 60 employees. Jennifer Dussilek talked about how challenging it was for her to hire professionals, some of whom were much older and more experienced than she was. Still, she had to be a role model and inspiration for them at all times as well. "They are constantly analyzing what you say and do. You always have to be aware of that."  Moreover, dealing with uncertainty is characteristic of life as an entrepreneur, she says: "I didn't know a lot of things and Googled them first. But you can't Google everything. Sometimes you also have to rely on your gut feeling." 

Roger Dudler of Frontify now employs over 300 people in St.Gallen, London and New York. The St.Gallen native spoke about the topic of resilience for entrepreneurs in light of the crises of recent years. The key, he said, is to understand oneself better. "Why do I lead and make decisions the way I do?" Understanding this, he said, is key to the positive development of the company. In addition, he stressed the importance of coherence with regard to one's own behavior: "Stick to your values to build trust," was his tip for founders. Every crisis is also an opportunity to prove and strengthen this anew, he said. 

With hackatons to the company

Julieta Luz Porta from Argentina, who came to St.Gallen thanks to the Fellowship Programme, provided a successful conclusion. Her story is almost unbelievable. As an undergraduate student, she was repeatedly rejected with her ideas and business plans. She was told to finish her studies first. For her, however, it was not logical why one would have to finish something first in order to start something else. So she kept going, started participating in hackathons and won. During the pandemic, she managed to win several hackathons with a team of strangers she met only online, including a global competition held by NASA. As a result, she attracted the attention of investors and other important people. Among other honors, she was granted an audience with the Japanese imperial family. She advocated being brave, and trying out: "You will never find the perfect circumstances to start a business. Sometimes you have to do something that goes against the statistics. If you always say no, no, no, you're never going to get a yes." At START Summit, she is looking to get a "yes" from investors for her med-tech company, Cytbac Technologies.

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