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The allure of emerging markets for swiss startups


Here at Seedstars we’ve been focusing our efforts on emerging markets, striving to bridge the gap between innovative startups in emerging markets and businesses and investors interested in global opportunities.

But as we uncover business opportunities for well established businesses we should not lose sight of the incredible opportunities that await Swiss entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

For this reason we invite Swiss entrepreneurs to join us on October 27th at the Chambre Vaudoise du Commerce et de l'Industrie (CVCI), for our very first event dedicated to Swiss entrepreneurs, where we will gather the relevant players in the field, including mentors, institutions and businesses in order to offer guidance and information on the opportunities available when expanding to a new market.


But first of all, what do we mean when we talk about emerging markets?

Here at Seedstars we have identified some criteria, that we use to identify emerging markets that range from Morocco to Chile and from Singapore to Moscow. We developed the Seedstars Index (SSI) to measure the quality, maturity and potential of the 54 ecosystems we interacted with in 2015. The SSI focuses on three criteria:

1.     Culture: How prevalent is the entrepreneurial mindset in the country? How much is entrepreneurship and risk taking celebrated and promoted?

2.     Environment: How conducive is the legal, political and financial environment to build and grow companies in that country?

3.    Opportunity: How possible is it to grow and scale within local and foreign markets?

We have then grouped these markets within macro categories based on geographical position, namely Latin America (Latam), Africa, Asia, Middle East and North Africa (Mena) and Central-eastern Europe (CEE).

We looked at how Switzerland performs on the SSI scale, and found that while being a highly fertile ground for startups in terms of investment and institutional support, it also makes for a great testing ground with its limited market size and strategic geographical position.

Indeed Switzerland and the State of Vaud have an economy that is largely open to the world and Europe and exports make up almost one third of Switzerland’s gross domestic product (GDP) – according to the Department of Economy of the Canton of Vaud. But while companies from Mexico or Brazil would come to Switzerland with the aim of expanding to other western European countries, we would like to challenge Swiss entrepreneurs to have more of a global outlook.


So now to the question, why should Swiss startups be interested in expanding to such markets? Let’s have a look at some data:

·      57% of the Global GDP is located in emerging markets 1

·      770bn was the B2C e-commerce turnover in Asia Pacific, representing 43% of world market share, in 2014 2

·      by 2050, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan are expected to exceed 300 million in population 3

·      80% of all smartphones will be located in Emerging Markets, by 2020 4

Each of the market we cover of course has specific characteristics, in terms of market size, language barriers and cultural openness. But these markets are also ripe and ready for innovation. The challenges of entrepreneurs differ greatly in markets where infrastructures, habits and natural environment can pose different constraints, in need of disruptive ideas to take over the market.

These markets however are often unknown, or discarded because of the geographical distance or hardship in finding warm leads, and initiate communication efforts.


How do we help Swiss entrepreneurs get started?

We have built a partnership with The Office for Economic Affairs (SPECo) of the State of Vaud (SPECo)  in order to give the chance to Swiss enterprises to make this important step with the aim to support Swiss entrepreneurs interested in growing their business and expanding to emerging markets.

Enter a New Market

  • Get connected to the right people

  • Access legal and financial support

  • Find & hire talent

Grow & Nurture Your Network

  • Find & contact the right people

  • Promote and grow your business

  • Learn new skills to enhance your professional brand

Unlock Sales Opportunities

  • Find leads and accounts in your target market

  • Get real-time insights for warm outreach

  • Build trusted relationships with customers & prospects

We invite Swiss entrepreneurs to join us on October 27th, and then we facilitate the first steps abroad with a 3-day ecosystem tours in your target market where we host and organize meetings with key stakeholders of the region of interest.

The enterprises involved in the process will also get a FREE pass to the Seedstars Summit held on the 6th of April 2017 where over 1000+ top investors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and startup ecosystem facilitators will be reunited in Lausanne, and get access to our network of experts in over 60+ markets, who will offer their support on fostering innovation and get practical intelligence to inform strategic decisions.


The Office for Economic Affairs of the State of Vaud

The Office for Economic Affairs (SPECo) of the State of Vaud (SPECo) supports companies that are located in the State of Vaud, especially those involved in the sectors of advanced technology and industry. SPECo advises entrepreneurs and puts them in contact with organizations that are appropriate to their specific needs and can also provide direct financial support.

Seedstars Group

Seedstars Group, a Swiss-based international organisation, has for mission to impact people's lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. The group's objective is to connect, build and invest in high growth companies in these regions with the support of its international network of investors, corporates, government agencies, incubators/accelerators and entrepreneurs. It is most famous for its international startup competition, Seedstars World, which is now present in over 65 countries.



  1. IMF, World Economic Outlook 2014
  2. European Commission, Global B2C E-commerce Report 2015
  3. UN, World Population Prospects, 2015
  4. GMSA, Smartphone forecasts and assumptions, 2007-2020



About the author

Alessia Balducci

Seedstars Summit Associate and passionate about empowering others to create a better society.

If you have any questions about the Seedstars Summit 2017 reach out at