Business angels seek new investments in Zurich

There will be some investment decisions to be made. Serono

This Friday, seven budding entrepreneurs will make their pitches to a gathering of business angels at the SWX Conference Point, at an event organized by BrainsToVentures AG.

This content was published on March 3, 2004 minutes

They hope to attract capital and coaching from some of the region's experienced entrepreneurs who are actively investing in young companies as members of the angel network.

There has been no diminishment of interest by the wealthy individuals who participate at similar events across the region. BrainsToVentures, which hosts such events three times a year, now has more than 300 angels in its network.

This year more than 400 business plans were vetted, according to Florian Schweitzer, who heads up the four year old St Gallen based firm.

Then 30 were selected to be considered in depth by a jury made up of business angels, many of them former entrepreneurs from a wide range of industrial backgrounds - some are venture capitalists, and seven were chosen for the coveted elevator pitch session.

Three out of the seven finalists will be selected to undergo an afternoon workshop the same day after making ten minute elevator pitches in the morning.

In the afternoon, BrainsToVentures will also host a workshop for business angels who want to understand better how to structure their investments in early stage companies so that they will be ready for venture capital investment at a later stage. In this session, experienced angels will talk about their experience so that new angels can learn from them.

International Angels

The business angels come primarily from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Schweitzer says that Austria's has discovered its entrepreneurial spirit and is making a greater showing than it has in the past.

An interesting development within the BrainsToVentures network is the emergence of an inner circle of investors, which now numbers about 40 people, according to Schweitzer. Membership in the inner circle is by invitation only and requires approval by the existing members.

So who are some of the members of the inner circle that entrepreneurs can meet and get to know better? They are businessmen with a flair for entrepreneurship, such as Germany's Dirk Roesing, the CEO of SHS Informationssysteme AG and a former executive with Telegate AG; Hemjö Klein, a marketing man with 30 years experience in the transport and retail industry; and from France, Hervé Defforey, whose career has spanned international finance and consulting. His family built Carrefour SA
where he maintains a position on the board.

From Switzerland, comes Gustav Wirz, who grew his firm Alphasem AG into an international concern and sold it for a significant sum when he reached his sixties. Also from Switzerland, Max Burger Calderon, an active venture capitalist whose company Apax Partners is one of the largest private equity fund managers world-wide.

From Austria, comes Alexander Grünwald, Director Altium Capital, and probably one of the youngest business angels in the club and Dr. Harald Sommerer, a banker turned entrepreneur who took his company AT&S Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik AG public and still runs the firm's finances.

By Valerie Thompson

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