How a Failed Startup Experience Opened the Door to Revolutionizing the Swiss Banking Scene

July 18, 2018

F10 alumni and Startup co-founder Patrik Hansson took part in the first batch of the F10 program. At the end of the program, however, the team decided not to move on. Startup mentor Jürg Steiger had seen the young entrepreneur in action during the first batch of the F10 Incubation Program and decided to recruit him for the management team of the online investment advisory service Clear Minds. Here is the story of Patrik and Jürg.

“To buy the cat in the bag” is the German equivalent of “the pig in a poke” and means hastily accepting an offer or deal without checking the facts first. This is clearly not a trap entrepreneur and F10 mentor Jürg Steiger would fall for. Therefore, he was happy to have worked with F10 alumnus Patrik Hansson before recruiting him to the management team of Clear Minds, an online investment advisory service that tries to revolutionize how people invest. “During the first batch of the F10 Incubation Program, I had seen Patrik in action for a few months and recognized his passion for FinTech, innovative solutions and digitalization”, says Startup mentor Jürg who had been looking for new talents to join Clear Minds back then.

Patrik had taken part in the F10 Incubation Program for Startups solving problems in the financial, banking and insurance industries as co-founder of the second generation robo-advisor Vesgoo. The Startup’s goal was to provide accessible and low-cost wealth management based on investors’ thematic interests and risk profiles. “At the beginning of the program, I had high hopes and was enthusiastic”, Patrik recalls. During the following months we felt in the team that we did not move in the same direction, and it became clear that Vesgoo’s story would end there. “Startup founders should always focus on the team. If the company does not stick together as a team, the company will not succeed – no matter how good the business idea or concept is. I had to learn that the hard way”, states Patrik.

Shape the ongoing digitalization in the Swiss finance industry

As the Startup was dissolved after the F10 program, Jürg offered Patrik a position in Clear Minds’ management team. “The chemistry with Jürg has been good from the very beginning and the offering of Clear Minds is similar to the one of Vesgoo, so I happily joined”, says Patrik who has wanted to form part of the ongoing digitalization in the Swiss finance industry for many years.

Clear Minds is a research-based platform that gives clients access to global markets and enables theme-based investments in a way that is individualized to each specific customer. The platform makes investment advice accessible to private customers. Clear Minds’ customers receive an individualized portfolio proposal as well as access to research and risk management. So far, 80 million Swiss francs of assets from private and institutional investors are managed by Clear Minds. The founding team combines international investment expertise with many years of experience with Swiss clients and their key investment needs. Investors can take control and make decisions on their own while they are being supported by professionals.

News article on major finance platform created a lot of buzz

This hybrid structure was perceived positively by both users and media when Clear Minds was officially launched in spring 2018. “We had very good user responses and high media coverage”, Patrik confirms. An article about the newly launched digital advisor featured on the major Swiss finance news platform created a lot of buzz and was amongst the mostly read articles for several days. The digital adviser’s pricing model has been approved by customers and the media. “Our flat rate approach is easy to understand and widely accepted among potential clients as people are used to such pricing models for example from their mobile phone contracts”, explains Jürg. The Clear Minds management agrees that the launch success slightly exceeded their expectations.

According to Jürg, the biggest challenge now is to get clients on the platform. The media coverage helped raise awareness and Clear Minds got invited to a meeting with a regional bank and several other small private banks have shown interest. The question is how quickly clients are willing to move to the new firm. “Swiss bank clients do not change their bank often. They usually trust their current banks, as they have safely managed their assets during many years.”

Learn about national and international FinTech trends

Jürg is convinced that the banking scene in Switzerland needs to reinvent itself. “F10 plays a significant role in that development. Even if a Startup fails and the founders go back to their corporate jobs, they will be strong leaders with new ideas on how to revolutionize the banking sector in Switzerland.” The Startup mentor likes to be in the selection process for new batches of the F10 Incubation Program as he can learn a lot about what is going on in the national and international FinTech scene.

What is the outlook for the future? “As Clear Minds offers both B2B and B2C services, another challenge is to allocate resources correctly and to find the right way for our B2B model”, Jürg explains. At the same time, the digital advisor is looking for new partners and is currently collaborating with FinTech Startups that graduated from Incubation Program. “I appreciate the frequent information exchange with other members from the F10 ecosystem which paves the way for future partnerships.” Clear Minds has worked with PwC which according to the Startup mentor would not have been possible without an accelerator that brings innovative talents, corporate members from big financial institutions and investors together. “And I would not be where I am today if it were not for F10”, Patrik adds.

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