After taking a closer look at FinTech accelerators in Tel Aviv, Berlin and London, we’re going on a quick trip to the banking capital of the world—Zurich. Apparently, this Swiss city is a popular spot for FinTech startups and institutions that help them break ground. We selected some of the most interesting ones and here’s what we found out.

The FinTech accelerators landscape is quite diverse, so we’ve decided to focus on just three, very different ones this time and get back to this topic later. 

3 FinTech accelerators in Zurich: different strokes for different folks

For the first post about FinTech accelerators in Zurich, we chose Kickstart, Impact Hub Zürich and F10. Each one is completely different and caters to different needs, but they all offer tons of benefits. Read on to find out more!

Kickstart

Kickstart is a relatively new FinTech accelerator in Zurich. It was founded just 5 years ago by digitalswitzerland as a derivative of Impact Hub Zurich, a well-established institution helping entrepreneurs find suitable business partners. Actually, Kickstart isn’t just an accelerator but a whole ecosystem, bridging gaps between various organisations: startups, corporations, cities, foundations, and universities.

Kickstart has a clear vision of its target sectors. Besides FinTech, the list includes EdTech, InsurTech, Food & Retail Tech, Smart City & Technology, HealthTech and Circular Economy. As for the location, Kickstart’s main venue is Kraftwerk, a cutting-edge building that combines co-working space with a cafe and an event stage.

How to kick it off with Kickstart?

In order to apply for Kickstart’s support, a FinTech wannabe must meet certain criteria. The accelerator is open for applications from all around the world, but in order to participate, a startup must tick these boxes:

  • It offers a product or technology. Patent owners are preferred. 
  • It has already gathered some investors and funds.
  • It’s open for cooperation with other Kickstart partners.
  • At least one founder can be present during important events organized by Kickstart.
  • Minimum one of the startup’s members must attend at least 50% of the Collaboration sprint activities and events.

What’s in it for you?

A typical round in Kickstart takes up to seven months, including the application and selection process. About seven weeks are dedicated to intense work with eligible startups. What’s on the agenda? First of all, Kickstart and its partners secure funds for cooperative projects in which you can participate. This way, you get to network with high-level executives who represent the companies you work with. But this is not the only benefit of growing a company with Kickstart. The accelerator can grant you financial support so you can develop your structures more dynamically during the programme. To top things off, it also provides media exposure and office space. And it’s all completely free of charge!

The 2020 edition of the programme was a huge success despite the pandemic situation. It resulted in 48 new partnerships between the partners and the alumni. One of the biggest winners was decentriq, a cybersecurity company specialising in data confidentiality. Together with the city of Zurich, the startup is going to work on new ways of using anonymised data analytics for the city administration.

Impact Hub Zürich

Impact Hub Zurich is a collaborative community and a network of startup hubs in Switzerland. Three of its hubs are located in Zurich. While the organization is huge (with 16,000 members), incubating new FinTech companies is not its main goal. Instead, they focus on helping you run your business, manage it better and develop it, also by granting access to great educational events.

You have to be in it to win it

Impact Hub membership is not free, but depending on the plan you choose and your budget, you can reap a number of benefits that make running a startup easier. The basic fee opens the door to the co-working space. The more you pay, the more days a week you can be there, while the premium option grants you a private desk. Besides that, all plans give members access to: 

  • A personal mentor helping you set up and network. 
  • Access to all chapters of Impact Hub world-wide.
  • Coffee spaces where you can meet with business partners.
  • A dedicated, member-only, online collaboration platform (Hubert).
  • Dozens of interesting events each year.

However, if you don’t need office space but still want to enjoy other benefits, you can decide to pay only CHF 45 a month to grab most of them.

Impact Hub with a FinTech twist

Now that we’ve established what Impact Hub is in general, let’s see how it can function as a FinTech accelerator in Zurich. First of all, even though it’s not a typical, seasonal programme, it gives you instant access to what most of such programmes have to offer: 

  • Mentoring from a personal host.
  • Networking opportunities, thanks to a gigantic network of members.
  • Educational events.

Unfortunately, there is no direct financing available, but Impact Hub has your back as part of its own crowdfunding programme hosted on the Wemakeit platform.

F10

F10 is definitely one of the most important players in the FinTech game in this part of Europe. It is sponsored by SIX: a global financial infrastructure provider and operator of the Swiss and Spanish stock exchanges. This FinTech accelerator’s mission is to unite tech startups with big business to shape the future of insurance and banking. Sounds promising, right? In fact, F10 consistently delivers exactly that. Because it focuses on such a narrow, specialized goal, it can do it right.

The F10 Ecosystem includes bankers, regulators, insurers, government officials and academics. Even though F10 works only with FinTech startups, its mentors represent a wide variety of specialisations and all industry sectors hungry for new technologies. Currently, 86 of them are in Switzerland and 27 in Singapore, and you can check profiles of all of them personally, as the accelerator lists them on its website.

The second aspect of the F10 Ecosystem is the co-working space, where you can work “surrounded by fresh ideas”. What’s more, you can rent this space even without participating in the accelerator programme.

Growing with F10 in three leaps

When it comes to actual programmes, F10 offers three options:

  • Ideation. 48 hours, 15 to 250 startups at a time.
  • Incubation. 5 to 6 months, 10 to 15 startups at a time
  • Acceleration. 3 months, 10 startups at a time.

Each of them is designed to help startups on different stages of development.

Ideation is an intense, 48-hour programme that helps you shape your business model and turn ideas into prototypes. All in close collaboration with F10 coaches and right next to other participants. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your next business partner or co-founder there?

The second phase, Incubation, was created for all those who already have a working prototype. Now, they need to make the product scalable and secure funds for launch. To make it happen, F10 provides three main services a budding entrepreneur may need: individual coaching, help in product development and fundraising. On top of that, you get to network with top FinTech experts and influencers. In fact, this is what makes F10 stand out among other accelerators. Thanks to being dedicated to a single industry, it gathers a very special crowd—you shake hands with people who can easily catapult a startup into the stratosphere

Perks don’t end there, as F10 members can use exclusive test data from leading banks and insurance companies. Once the product is ready, you can safely test it in a dedicated sandbox API platform for banks and insurers that conforms to PSD2. To make things even sweeter, in exchange for equity, F10 can invest up to EUR 150,000 in your startup, if the product shows enough promise.

The third FinTech Accelerator programme offered by F10 is Acceleration: addressed to post-revenue startups feeling ready to hit the global markets. At this point, members get access to senior level executives from corporations that cooperate with F10 and meet with investors in person. Acceleration is in fact a great way to present an innovative FinTech product to an international audience or cash in on a mature idea.

The 2021 season at F10 is going to be very intense, so apply or join the wait list now, while it’s still not too late!

More about FinTech accelerators in Zurich coming soon!

That would be all about the first trio of FinTech accelerators in Zurich that we’ve selected for this showcase. Soon, you’ll be able to learn more about other curious startup destinations, such as Bluelion and Innovation @ Thomson Reuters. Stay tuned and follow Code & Pepper on social media for startup updates!