An EHL Alumni at the Silicon Valley Startup Camp

EHL Editorial Team | 19 Nov, 2015

The third edition of the Silicon Valley Startup Camp, which was first launched by BCV in 2013, attracted applications from over seventy students from the canton’s higher education institutions. Ten high potential candidates were finally selected to cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit during a week in San Francisco filled with tailor-made workshops, visits to universities and companies, and meetings with venture capitalists.

Whether they had already taken part in the creation of a business project or joined the trip to discover what the entrepreneurial world is all about; for all it constituted an inspiring experience. One of our recent graduate, Charlotte Schaus, was among the 10 selected students. 

EHL - An EHL Alumni at the Silicon Valley Startup Camp

Today, she shares with us her learnings and experience:

EHL: In a few word, can you summarize your experience at the Silicon Valley StartUp Camp?

CS: The startup camp was a very intense week. We usually had workshops and presentations at the Swissnex office in the morning. We were then split in three teams and had to find an idea, work on it and learn how to pitch it. My team worked on a pair of shoes that would create energy while walking that could then be used to charge ones phones battery. In the afternoons we visited iconic companies of the bay area such as Facebook, Mozilla, Indiegogo and many more.

EHL: What was the most memorable moment of your experience?

CS: It is hard to pick one single moment, the overall experience was very enriching. Here are activities that I particularly enjoyed: 

  • Discovering and understanding how the bitcoin works at Coinbase. It was an interesting discovery for me.
  • Walking through the office of Facebook, which is more a city than an enterprise truly. It looks like Disneyland and there is free food everywhere. Interesting fact: the Facebook offices are located in the former Sun Microsystem offices, a former tech giant that was bought by Oracle Corporation. In the campus you can still see Sun panels; they are left there to remind the Facebook employees that their business can also disappear any day. Other interesting fact: when the movie “the social network” came out, the whole company (including Mark Zuckerberg) watched it together. 
  • Visiting incubators such as Y Combinator that were the cradles of huge successes like Airbnb, Dropbox or 9gag was definitely inspiring.
  • Networking is very important in the Silicon Valley, and as there is no second chance to make a first impression so we had a handshake class. I had lots of fun comparing it to the EHL code of conduct and values.
  • Visiting the gaming company Zynga (creator of Farmville, poker, cityville…). Their employees can play videogames during work whenever they want. Actually the whole office looks like you’re inside of a video game! They also brew their own beer in the building and have events for the employees every day. 

EHL: What was the biggest challenge for you during the camp?

CS: In the Silicon Valley everything revolves around innovative technologies. If fully understand their potential and impact, I was challenged to impose my ideas and convince others to consider a project that is not tech oriented.  Also, even if not many will admit, it is all about the money and I noticed a great deal of inequalities.

EHL: Now that you’re back, how does it feel to be part of such an amazing experience? 

CS: I’m not back yet! I actually stayed in SF for a short internship in a startup to be able to apply what I learned during my studies at EHL, during the CTI Entrepreneurship program at EPFL (in which I participated last year) and the Silicon Valley startup camp. 

It was an honor to be a part of such an incredible experience. Switzerland offers us many opportunities to learn about entrepreneurship and the BCV SVSC is a great example. I met very interesting and entrepreneurial students from other universities in the canton and the startup experts from Swissnex. I would definitely recommend it to any EHL student who wants to learn more about startups’ world. 

EHL: If there is one thing you will bring back with you and use for the future career?

CS: I’m now more determined as ever to create a business thanks to what I learned. You should take risks and not be afraid to fail and learn from your mistakes. Ideas have little value, the way you implement your idea and how lucky you are will determine your success. 

EHL: How your studies at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne helped you to make a difference from the nine other students?

CS: At EHL we were constantly taught to work in a team and that was very useful during our workshops. It is to me an important lesson of humility as no start-up success can be attributed to just one person!

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