In April, Glion Institute of Higher Education hosted the Glion Start-up Lab, an interactive conference featuring speakers from rising hospitality start-ups, crowdfunding platforms, incubators, and the world of finance.
During the event, Glion students had the opportunity to ask questions and present their business pitch for a hospitality start-up. Located on the Bulle campus, this conference was organized by our finance lecturer Ms. Pia Huh for the students on the Master of Science in Real Estate, Finance and Hotel Development and Bachelor’s in International Hospitality Business.
Innovative Hospitality Start-ups
The opening segment was dedicated to success stories told by the founders of two exciting new start-ups in hospitality.
Louis and Lisa Papadopoulos, Owners of the Maya Boutique Hotel, described the adventure of creating the first hotel made of straw in Europe that is self-sufficient in energy, thanks to solar panels and a wood oven. In 2015, the Maya Boutique Hotel received the World Boutique Hotel Award (Sustainable Development) in London and the Worldwide Hospitality Award for the Best Innovation in Hotel Concept in Paris.
Marc Hazan, CEO and Founder of Keys’n’Fly, an Airbnb property management service, explained how he came across the idea to create a full service property management company that streamlines the rental experience for guests and property owners.
Incubators and Crowdfunding
The second part of the conference welcomed the founders of two Zurich-based Swiss incubators:
Mike Baur, Founding Partner of Swiss Startup Factory spoke about the Swiss startup ecosystem.
Leo Caprez, Director of Finance and Operations, Impact Hub Zurich, spoke about innovative hybrid financing strategies and legal structures for high-impact entrepreneurs. We learned that ImpactHub has a true social agenda, not just presenting hybrid models, but a commitment to supporting businesses that have a positive impact on society and environment.
Last but not least, Hichame Metatla, CEO and Co-Founder of Geneva-based Growth Incubator/Crowdfunder beeInvested shared his knowledge of equity crowd-funding.
Student Start-up Ideas
After the guest speakers, Glion student groups had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas for innovative hospitality start-ups. The presentations were evaluated by a panel of two guests: Maxime Droux, Co-Founder, and Matteo Avanzini, Account Manager, of neuvoo, an international job aggregator. The students presented three business concepts and the panel members gave informal feedback.
Gala Image by Hicham Zaime – Hicham proposed a website platform and app concept where clients can find professional artists (photographers, video producers, graphic designers etc.), view their portfolios and contact the artist through the website. The corresponding app would allow clients to find professional artists nearby who are available for projects.
BidLine by Irina Agapova, Aghasaf Jabrayilov, Ulkar Mammadzada, Matvey Shapovalov. This group of students co-presented their idea for hotel companies to increase non-room related revenue. The smart-phone application would allow customers to bid on non-room related offers such as restaurant places, spa services, gym use, etc.
Nuengnoelle by Yodsaphol Huangnam This student presented his idea to offer customized spa treatments and beauty products. To do this, he would involve a network of dermatologists using state-of-the-art machines to test customer skin types. Based on results, the products and treatments would be made specifically and uniquely for each customer, all fabricated in Thailand. He would also create a “Spa University” where employees could follow a training program.
The Sharing Economy
After all the talk of start-ups and innovative new ways to finance a business, the conference moved on to address the impacts of innovation on finance. Guest speaker Jonathan Horlacher, Financial Analyst at Credit Suisse, spoke about the impact of a sharing economy on GDP.
Impressions and Future Plans
“Overall, this event gave students good understanding of how to transform innovative ideas into real sustainable hospitality companies,” said Pia Huh, “It will encourage students to take their rough business ideas and transform them into sustainable businesses for the hospitality industry. They also got many good ideas for financing their projects, as they learned more about the role of incubators and accelerators and how to obtain financing through crowdfunding. As this was one of the first conferences on the subject of hospitality start-ups, we were very pleased with the results and we will continue to plan events around sustainable hospitality businesses and start-ups as this is key to the future of the industry.”