All posts filed under: Internationalization


(Translated from an account by Gian Berger, master’s student at HWZ University Zurich* and Head of Digital & Channel Marketing at Migros, Switzerland’s largest retailer) June 2022. San Francisco – A clear blue sky above and a sensational view of the Golden Gate Bridge below – finally possible again after two years of the pandemic. * HWZ University Zurich is Switzerland’s largest part-time business university. Its Center for Digital Business pioneered academic educational programs for a digitalized business world. DIGIRAM editor Gert Christen is an alumnus of HWZ and founded their entrepreneurship department before returning to California. Students of the HWZ University master study program “Digital Leadership” were once again able to travel to the capital of technology and startups to experience the famous Silicon Valley spirit up close and personal. Gert Christen, head of the HWZ University Silicon Valley Outpost, created an exciting program. Many conversations with startup entrepreneurs, pitches of digital business models, insights into Amazon’s corporate culture, amazing networking events, and reserved time for reflection sessions opened space for discussions and exchanges between students and actors of the Silicon Valley ecosystem. Together …

USA Launching Pad Brings Mitipi to the USA

For many years startup and scale-up entrepreneurs have asked me about how to enter the US market successfully. As someone who built businesses in the USA before, I’ve experienced firsthand how complicated it can be. Getting noticed, creating messaging that resonates with the American culture, and campaigning and selling in the US are very different than in other countries. It is a very big country, and the biggest problem may be to know where even to start.  To navigate these obstacles, I founded USA Launching Pad, which helps foreign companies build their sales in the USA and be more successful more quickly. Our team of experienced American business builders supports entrepreneurs every step of the way with our proven method and our personal networks.  This fall, we worked with a cohort of three tech companies to bring them into the US market. One of these companies is Mitipi, who are innovating the home security market by creating a deterrent from burglaries and home invasions. Their first product, KEVIN, is a plug-and-play smart device that simulates sounds and projects images that make …

Design Thinking your way into new markets – Introducing The USA Launching Pad:

Ever since I returned to California 5 ½ years ago, companies from abroad have been contacting me for help with the U.S. market. A very flattering and humbling experience – that so many entrepreneurs remember me when seeking help to start their businesses in the States. To my surprise, the inquiries didn’t stop even during COVID, which motivated me to think about how modern methods could improve the chances of success of new market entries. If product-market fit has been found in one market, how might the fit with a new market be tested as quickly as possible? How to find out what works and what needs to change—fast? If we had a systematic method to test before the rollout, we could eliminate costly trial-and-error, lower the risk, eliminate basic mistakes, create the best bang for the buck, recruit the best people for the plan, and more. The result is the “Launching Pad” methodology. It’s a systematic way to test and iterate to find the fit in a new market in five strategic areas: strategy, …

The State of the Corporate Startup

Video and presentations for download from the “Corporate Venturing” event on October 28, 2020. The event was organized by the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco and was sponsored by the Swiss Business Hub. Experts from Swisscom, the Swiss Railways SBB and Paul Holland from Mach49 and Foundation Capital shared their approaches to corporate innovation (more about the speakers at the end of this post). Here are the recording of the event and the speaker presentations: Zoom video recording Swisscom presentation Swiss Railways SBB presentation Mach49 innovation consultants presentation Thank you to the Chamber for organizing the event and to the three speakers for sharing their work and their inputs. Feel free to download the slides and the event video. If you have an opinion on corporate innovation let me know and let’s start a dialog. The panelists were: Swisscom (Lukas Peter, Head of Silicon Valley Outpost): Swisscom started an outpost in Silicon Valley 20 years ago and are one of the most visible and present partners and investors in the Swiss innovation scene. …

Silicon Valley Innovation Tours Done Right

This article was first published as a LinkedIn article by Antonio Grgic on November 12, 2018. He condensed his personal learnings from a study tour to Silicon Valley organized by HWZ University of Applied Sciences Zurich. What follows is the English translation of the article with an introduction by Gert Christen who organized and led the study tour. Silicon Valley Tours – Just Tourism or Meaningful for Innovation? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you know the two types of buses shuttling people between San Francisco and Silicon Valley: Employee buses of the large tech companies on the one hand and chartered buses carrying visitors from all over the world to the same tech companies on the other. Each week there are hundreds of delegations from all over the world traveling around the Silicon Valley determined to learn its secrets. They fall into five categories: Politicians who want to learn how to set policies that attract innovative companies, resulting in more high qualified jobs and highly profitable and future-proof companies. Business people who want to learn how to be more innovative and who want to sell their products, find new suppliers or create …

Thank you for a great 2017. And wishing you a happy 2018!

San Francisco is home to one of the most iconic bridges in the world. And I  crossed it a lot during 2017. And I took a picture every time…. While  driving on the bridge and while sailing underneath. Here are pictures of San Francisco’s prettiest bridge during 2017. I hope you enjoy this San Francisco landmark as much as I did. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of you! Looking forward to seeing you again in 2018, Yours, Gert Christen

Listen to our Radio Talk Show about Smart Cities

How can public-private-partnerships accelerate smart city initiatives? On the morning of January 31 I joined Voice America radio for a talk with other smart city experts. Click here or on the coffee cup below to listen to the show:   The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s infrastructure only a D+ and estimated that over 3 trillion US$ is needed to upgrade it to modern standards. However, traditional financing sources are often inadequate. How do City leaders find resources for municipal services? Are innovative public-private-partnerships such as City Innovate and Superpublic San Francisco one means to achieve this? The key points from the round of experts and radio host Bonnie D. Graham were: Smart Cities are not about gadgets, sensors or self-driving cars. They are about creating meaningful services for residents. Smart city administrators must become smart city technologists. Public-private-partnerships need to be mutually beneficial or they will not last. Public-private-partnerships combine skills and resources of both the public and private sectors. Social issues & resiliency are taking a front seat for cities.  

Switzerland for Start-ups: More than Chocolate!

Switzerland is a location to consider for startups! It offers so much more than only chocolate. Its main advantages are the central location in Europe, great talent, a vibrant & growing startup ecosystem and excellent quality of life and work!   If you are a startup and are wondering where to open an office in Europe; you should consider Switzerland and the Zurich region. I recently did a live webinar to make the case for SAAS: Switzerland as a service for startups. See my presentation here.           The recording of the webinar can be watched here.             Welcome to Switzerland! Where chocolate is as good as the startups there.

Opening of Superpublic San Francisco City Innovation Lab

Superpublic San Francisco is officially open! This morning the founding partners of Superpublic San Francisco officially opened the lab. We were honored by GSA General Services Administration Administrator Denise Roth, San Francisco San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, City Administrator Naomi Kelly, Supervisor Mark Farrell of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, City Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath, University of California Berkeley’s Prof. Susan Shaheen and City Innovate Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kamran Saddique. Superpublic brings together the innovation forces of the federal, state and city government with private industry, startups and university researchers to solve urban problems thru open innovation:           We employ our own methodology using user-centered techniques, innovation sprints and consistent community outreach to accelerate the time it takes for public organizations to learn, to research about a problem, to prototype and to document the findings in white papers and policy recommendations. These are invaluable tools for cities to educate themselves on issues and possible paths to their solution and to build capacity within city governments to tackle urban problems. The findings …

Invitation to BRIDGE SF Summit, San Francisco, September 6-9th, 2016

BRIDGE SF brings public, private, non-profit, and academic institutions together to  drive innovation for a better tomorrow in cities. Organized in conjunction with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office and the University of California, Berkeley, City Innovate  invites policymakers and leading innovators for a four-day event focused on citizen-critical issues. Topics among others are: Mobility in Cities (City of San Francisco, City Innovate and MIT Media Lab) City Planning Best Practices (University of California Berkeley and UI Labs Chicago) City Infrastructure of the Future: (ID3 and CivicMakers) Urban Sensors (City of Los Angeles and Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) Global City Knowledge Transfer (U.S. Department of Commerce and National Resource Defense Council) The Digital Age of Manufacturing (City Innovate) Clean Energy (City of San Francisco and Intelligent City Forum) The full program of the event can be found here. An event brochure can be downloaded. Registration for the Bridge SF Summit here. Looking forward to meeting you at the Bridge SF Summit 2016!