Yesterday evening, Volumina Medical walked away victorious at the Start-up Champion Seed Night. CEO Amélie Béduer, along with 21 other entrepreneurs from all over Switzerland, had just 90 seconds to pitch the crowd of alumni and investors who had gathered at the Rolex Learning Center.
Short and sweet. Last night, 22 entrepreneurs were given just 90 seconds each to pitch their projects to an audience of over 250 alumni and investors. Amélie Béduer, the CEO of Volumina Medical, won over the spectators and the jury with her company’s injectable implant. This biomaterial is designed to reconstruct soft tissue, following breast cancer surgery for example. It is injected with a syringe and represents a potential alternative to existing, more invasive, treatments. The product is currently in preclinical testing.
For these entrepreneurs, who are all in search of funding for their companies, the visibility they gained from their pitch last night was capital. The aim of this annual event, which is put together by EPFL Alumni, Innogrants (EPFL’s startup support fund) and Venturelab, is to forge ties between the School’s graduates and up-and-coming firms. It’s a networking initiative that keeps gaining momentum, based on the fact that graduates and successful entrepreneurs are investing more and more in the next generation of companies.
Both current and future entrepreneurs in attendance Thursday night drew inspiration from the keynote speakers. Steve Anavi, an EPFL graduate, described how he went from being an engineer to a serial entrepreneur. And Madiha Derouazi explained how she created her cancer-vaccine startup in 2012 and grew it into a company with some 15 employees - while raising 37 million francs along the way. "If you want to start a business, you need strength, endurance and boundless enthusiasm," she said.
Following the pitches, the audience shortlisted four companies: Wakeit, Resistell, Volumina Medical and Synendos Therapeutics. The four finalists were then asked the following question: "What keeps you awake at night?" Amélie Béduer clinched victory with her response; the jury particularly appreciated her "sense of duty and responsibility." Steve Anavi added: "What’s more, the product she is developing builds on something that exists already - and that will facilitate buy-in among users."
For Béduer, this was the first time she presented her work to such a large group of people. But she has faced tougher challenges as an entrepreneur: "Time pressure is much greater in business than in academic research. In order to start bringing in money, you need to develop your product quickly and make the right decisions. There’s no margin for error. It’s also important to choose your outside partners wisely, making sure they click with your team." Thanks to Amélie Béduer’s focus and drive, Volumina Medical is certainly on the right track.