12 Insights for Start-Ups from Industry Pioneers


Returning from the Winterthur StartupNights 2023, we aim to offer a thorough checklist highlighting the lessons startups can learn from well-established companies.

For the Winterthur Startup Nights 2023 from November 2nd – 3rd, SymbiaVC Investment Manager Alex embarked on a journey through Switzerland, engaging in meaningful encounters with family offices in Zurich before joining the largest startup fair in Switzerland with over 8,000 attendees.

Over 60 highly professional workshops, keynotes, and panel discussions were offered, but the spotlight shone on 120 startups across diverse sectors such as e-commerce, ICT, health- and deep tech, all showcasing their groundbreaking solutions.

We’d like to provide you with a brief overview of the essential elements of success in innovation, which have been discussed on and off the stage by industry leaders, seasoned founders, investors, operators and other startup insiders. This comprehensive checklist is a valuable resource that essentially every innovative company could review periodically.

1. Putting Customers First: To achieve success, companies should prioritize understanding their customers and ensuring they meet their needs. For startups, this involves conducting research, seeking customer feedback, and rigorously testing their ideas to ensure they effectively address real world problems.

2. Embracing Diversity: Established companies thrive by bringing together individuals with different skills and perspectives. For startups, the key to success lies in building teams that combine specialized expertise with business insight and creative thinking.

3. Fostering a Culture of Smart Risk Taking: Growing companies must create an environment that not only allows but encourages taking risks. Startups should become spaces where employees can safely explore ideas, learn from setbacks encountered along the way, and gain insights.

4. Embracing Continuous Improvement: Maintaining adaptability is crucial for long term success. Successful companies employ flexible development approaches and improvement methods that enable startups to adjust and refine their products or services as needed.

5. Collaboration Sparks Innovation: Collaborating with companies can infuse startups with ideas. Starting partnerships with established firms or research institutions grants access to a pool of knowledge and expertise.

6. Investing in Research and Development: Even when resources are limited, startups must allocate resources, for innovation efforts.

7. Digital Transformation: Utilizing tools in a manner that can greatly enhance the efficiency of a startups operations and foster the development of groundbreaking services.

8. Engaging Employees: Harnessing the power of intelligence by encouraging feedback and input from individuals at all levels within the organization can serve as a catalyst, for innovation.

9. Scalability Planning: New businesses should carefully consider how they may develop from the ground up to enter new markets. When considering growth, potential startups should meticulously strategize on how to scale their operations from the onset, enabling them to venture into new markets.

10. Measuring Progress with Statistics: It’s critical to monitor the effectiveness of your inventions using metrics and statistics. Key performance indicators (KPIs) must be established, and startups should closely monitor their progress.

11. The Power of Adaptability: A company’s capacity to adjust to shifting market conditions is a major factor in its success.

12. A Well-Defined Future Vision: A startup’s workforce can be inspired and motivated to work toward a common objective by communicating a clear and inspiring mission statement.

In summary, although the scale and resources of established companies and startups may differ, the principles of successful innovation remain constant. By fostering customer-centric approaches, encouraging a culture of experimentation, and remaining adaptable, startups can replicate the innovation strategies of thriving organizations.

At SymbiaVC, we maintain well-established connections with highly successful industry pioneers in the wood and timber industry. Facilitating synergies between startups and established enterprises is a key focus for us. Should you be interested in exploring collaborative possibilities, please feel free to reach out to us.