Startup Board Academy
Successful startups have
outstanding Boards of Directors


Day 1
Virginie Verdon / Karim Maizar
Basics for Startup Board Members 
  • What’s so special about start-ups?
  • Roles and duties
    • Company bodies (General Assembly, BOD, Auditors)
    • Swiss legal framework
    • Responsibilities of a BOD member
    • Being a BOD member in a start-up
  • Principles of good governance
    • Best practices for start-ups
    • Role of the BOD at key stages in the life of a start-up (future rounds, merger, exit, key person resignation)
  • Start-up environment
    • Classical risks and pitfalls for BOD members in start-up
    • What questions to ask before joining a BOD?
    • Improving relations between shareholders, BOD and management
    • Building a successful BOD
    • BOD remuneration, what model to apply in start-ups?
  • Compliance
    • BOD members liabilities
    • Conflict of interests
  • Insurances
Day 2
Virginie Verdon / Jacques Hefti
Finance for Startup Board Members 
  • Understanding the Business Model
    • How solid is it?
    • What are the key success factors?
    • Case studies of successful  and failed business models in start-ups
  • Financial checklist
    • Key reminders
    • How to monitor the finances of a start-up ?
    • Financial tools
    • Case studies of start-ups financials in good and bad shape
  • Overindebtedness (art. 725 CO)
    • Duty of the BOD
    • Risks for the BOD
    • Case studies
  • Role & Responsibilities of BOD members in financial management
  • Relation with auditors
  • Start-up financing and BOD involvement
Day 3
Jean de Wolf / Virginie Verdon
Crisis Management for Startup Board Members 
  • Crisis Management in a start-up
    • What are the common causes of start-up crises?
    • How to identify the early signs of a crisis?
    • Crisis response recommandations
    • What actions to take as a BOD member?
    • Communication in the crisis
    • Groups role play
  • Insolvency
    • Type of enforcement proceedings
    • Role and responsibility of the BOD
    • When to call the judge?
    • What actions to take ?
    • How to present the case to the judge ?
    • BOD liability in a bankruptcy procedure
    • Groups role play
Day 4
Virginie Verdon / Brigitte Baumann / Jean de Wolff / Jacques Hefti
Board Due Diligence - Live Session 
  • 4 start-ups, which have already incorporated, are invited to present to participants, acting as potential BOD members
  • At the end of the presentation, each start-up describes its ideal board (skills & personality)
  • 4 groups are created among the participants with the closest match with each of the start-up  requirements
  • Each group, with the support of a trainer, conducts its due diligence as future BOD member, interacting with the start-up management team
  • Each group gives the results of its due diligence to the start-up with a list of recommendations
  • Start-ups give their feedbacks to the due diligence team (how they feel about this experience, lessons learned, communication process, etc..)


Paul Watkins

CEO at KÔJNT Masters Accredited Executive Coach

I got a lot from the SBMA sessions. Acting on a Swiss board has some significant differences to other countries. The SBMA sessions made those differences clear and gave a realistic and pragmatic experience of where a Swiss board member’s attention needs to be.

Penny Schiffer

Head of Startup Initiatives ​at Swisscom

I was really impressed by the quality and experience of the speakers but also by the great knowledge and niveau of discussion with the participants.

Philippe D. Monnier

Board Member at several international startups such as WayRay SA

The Startup Board Members Academy is particularly useful because course leaders are successful practitioners, the content is down-to-earth and participants provide excellent networking opportunities. Highly recommended!

Course leader

Virginie Verdon

Virginie has a strong background in energy, clean-tech, telecommunication and IT sectors. Often called in during transition periods, she helps companies in their fast growing and restructuring phases. She brings her hands-on expertise in C-level management, finance, marketing & communication, and international business development.

Fascinated by organizations in transition, she took part in two IPOs, led a full privatization process and restructured various SMEs as well as MNCs departments in multicultural environments. She is chairman of the board of a government-owned company and serves on the board of directors of several SMEs and start-up companies.

Jacques Hefti

Jacques Hefti has a strong background in founding, developing and coaching startups in ICT, in advanced engineering and in social entrepreneurship. He is currently serving on the board of two service organizations and advises entrepreneurs and board member candidates for startup boards.

Jacques is Co-Director of Startup Campus, one of the leading training and coaching platforms for spin-offs and startups coming from ETH and all major Universities in the German part of Switzerland. He has been teaching strategic management, innovation & entrepreneurship for more than five years and is coordinating the startup activities at the Zurich University of Applied Science in his role as a head of entrepreneurship@zhaw.

Moreover, he has a track record of over 25 years in management positions as a CEO or senior vice president in the interior design, tourism and public transport sectors.


Guillaume Dubray

Guillaume is managing partner of Polytech Ventures. He brings with him over ten years of experience in investment management, fund management and corporate finance. In parallel, Guillaume is a finance lecturer at several leading academic institutions and business schools.

Prior to joining Polytech Ventures, Guillaume was Chief Investment Officer and Co-founder of Active Niche Funds SA, an investment firm specialised in the CleanTech sector. Previously, he was responsible for various Venture Capital activities for the LCF Rothschild Group in Geneva. Guillaume started his career with Ernst & Young in Geneva and in New York, where he worked as an M&A consultant on behalf of large US-based Private Equity funds.

He graduated from the Haute Ecole de Gestion (HEIG-VD) in 2002 and subsequently obtained Chartered Certified Accountant qualification (ACCA) as well as an MBA from the Manchester Business School.

Julian Foulger

Julian is CEO of Swiss Mergers and Acquisitions, a partner in Longbow (high-value asset recovery) and non-executive chairman of Swiss biometrics (face and voice) company Keylemon. He brings with him a wealth of experience of sitting on boards of directors in Europe, USA and the Far East, both as an executive and a non-executive director in start-up and established companies.

Prior to moving to Switzerland, Julian co-founded, via a buyout of a charity’s assets, with 5 others the Shaw Healthcare Group, filling the position of Business Development Director responsible for both financing and contract negotiations, which owns and operates 80 nursing homes and specialist private hospitals. Prior to Shaw Healthcare he was CFO of mobile 3G telecoms infrastructure company start-up Wireless Systems International, which he joined from global Japanese CAD / CAM software group Zuken-Redac where he was Group CFO. Julian’s first commercial role was as CFO of publishing (subscriptions and books) and training company Sewells International.

He is a qualified accountant and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Martin Horst

Dr. Horst, a former Professor for Biochemistry, founded two companies: Nexilis identifies research-innovations through selection of feasible applications, technology proofs and defines/clarifies industrial value in order to develop products in the overlapping field between medical devices and biotechnology. The second company, Accelerex, provides innovative and professional consultancy to small and medium sized medical device, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Accelerex offers objective evaluation of business opportunities and can perform a professional and detailed due diligence service for either inventors or investors. 

Until 2004 Dr. Horst was a member of the management team of Synthes AG, one of the leading manufacturers of implants in the field of orthopaedics and traumatology. Prior to this position Dr. Horst worked with Geistlich Pharma AG, a major manufacturer for biomaterials used in dental surgery.

In addition Dr. Horst is a long standing CTI start-up coach and he is a member and chairman of the board of directors in several small size and start-up companies in Switzerland, Germany and UK.

Michel Jaccard

Michel Jaccard is the founder of id est avocats. He has been involved in the last 20 years in more than a hundred corporate finance and M&A deals in Switzerland and abroad, acting for entrepreneurs and owners, venture capital and private equity firms, industrial buyers and financial sponsors. Along his corporate expertise, he sits on several advisory boards and regularly helps C-level execs and board members of SMEs and global brands navigate the world of advanced technologies, distributed computing, open source, data protection and cybersecurity, and more generally manage their online presence and digital transformation.

Michel holds a JD and PhD from the University of Lausanne and an LLM from Columbia Law School (Stone Scholar, Fulbright grantee). He is admitted to practice in Switzerland and New York, and has been highly recommended in Corporate/M&A, Technology, Media/Telecoms and Intellectual Property for the past 10 years by leading guides such as Chambers and Legal500.

He also maintains a blog on innovation and technology law and frequently acts as jury member or mentor in national and international startup competitions.

Karim Maizar

Karim is a partner in our Zurich office and heads the firm’s startup desk. In this capacity, Karim has been advising founders, startups and investors for many years in connection with venture capital transactions, employee participation programs and exits (M&A). Karim is a co-founder and member of the board of the Swiss Startup Association and regularly acts as speaker in the area of venture capital. He also engages in political discussions that are related to the promotion of the Swiss startup ecosystem. Karim further has long-standing expertise in advising companies and individuals in general matters of corporate and contract law.

Jean-Marc Wismer

Jean-Marc Wismer is a serial entrepreneur in the fields of IT and medical devices and a former executive with a large multinational organization. He has a history of building companies from early stage to international growth, with strong experience in carving out strategies for complex businesses, in product development, in private equity financing, in regulatory affairs, in operations and growth management, and in marketing and sales. He holds a MSc in Electrical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and an MBA from the IMD. Jean-Marc is also a business consultant, teaches and lectures entrepreneurship with various organizations.

Jean de Wolff

Jean spent over 20 years in technology oriented companies. His domains of expertise range from international sales to management of large telecom projects. While an executive in large multinational companies, he experienced many of the domestic and international development stages of a corporation. Jean is also an entrepreneur and started several ventures which have been successfully sold. Jean is currently a partner and board member of several small and medium-sized companies and start-ups. He also works as a consultant, advising entrepreneurs and SMEs.

The training will take place on
afternoons from 2 to 6 PM in Zurich, Switzerland.

The total fee for the 4 afternoon-trainings is CHF 950.-

A special price applies to a limited number of new startup founders.

Autumn Session 2019, Zurich

Day 1: October 28th, 2019

Day 2: November 4th, 2019

Day 3: November 11th, 2019

Day 4: November 25th, 2019

Spring Session 2020, Zurich

Day 1: February 24th, 2020

Day 2: March 2nd, 2020

Day 3: March 9th, 2020

Day 4: March 23rd, 2020

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