Success is not a given and failure is not inevitable



FailCon does not seek to glorify or praise failure, nor does it wish to make failure out to be worse than it is. In an enlightened fashion, FailCon Zurich takes a realistic view of failure.
Anyone who’s been successful in business will testify to the setbacks faced in the process of building up a firm, a brand, or a product. Allowing mishaps and failings to dictate your fate is a grave mistake.
Learning from these smaller defeats adds resilience to the success that can come from it.

True failure occurs only when a defeat becomes the event that keeps you from continuing the journey towards your goal. Not starting that voyage for fear of failure is to be defeated in life, before you’ve even started to live it. Nothing great comes from those who do not venture out to make it so.

Troubleshooting Failure: Building a Resilient Entrepreneur
Troubleshooting Failure: Building a Resilient Entrepreneur Deep Parekh - Geneva

Description of your talk: My first venture failed. It took me 3 years to come to terms with it. Dissecting the failure helped me drive success in new businesses that I’ve launched. I now repeat the “failure exercise” both at the business level as well as at the project level; understanding why something didn’t work and learning from it makes me more resilient as an entrepreneur.

Speaker Bio: Deep is a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of a boutique management consulting firm in the Americas and Europe, named as one of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. magazine. He’s failed once and has learned a lot from that, and attributes his current success to his first failure.

Deep on LinkedIn

Failure by Omission
Failure by Omission Liam Boogar - Paris

Description of your talk: There are many types of Failures in the world, and we often forget about Failure By Omission – the failure that we experience when we fail to express our doubts about a colleague, friend, or family member’s project, when we fail to press them to answer the tough questions early, and when we sit back watching them fail slowly, and don’t have the heart to tell them until the damage has been done.

Speaker Bio: Born in the Silicon Valley, Liam Boogar moved to France in 2010, where he worked for a few startups, and began blogging about what he saw around him. In 2011 he co-founded Rude Baguette – France’s Startup Blog – which today has established itself as the go-to blog for the French startup scene. Alongside co-founder Trista Bridges, Liam is working to create more visibility and transparency in the French startup ecosystem, in order to connect France with the rest of Europe, and the rest of the world.

Liam on LinkedIn

How the Swiss perfectionist 'syndrome' leads to a larger fear of failure
How the Swiss perfectionist 'syndrome' leads to a larger fear of failure Sandrine Szabo - Geneva

Description of your talk: Not considering failure doesn’t prevent it. By obsessing on success we are naturally bound to fail. In the digital world, people expect magic. But who can bet you will be innovative enough to enlighten all your customers sustainably? Failure, or trial and errors has to be adopted as your process to succeed, and repeated continuously. We have to reprogram to think of failure not as a shame but as a path to success.

Speaker Bio: I am a young entrepreneur (since 2006), still learning everyday. I never intended to build a company. I did it because none of the jobs I could have would let me do what I thought was really important: try new things. I created a job board (profession-web.ch), a community (swissw2), a digital agency (netinfluence) but was still frustrated with the lack of innovation and tolerance of complexity. So I created a lab called simplelab to help companies embrace complexity and practice innovative thinking to create enlightening experiences for their customers, driving engagement in the long run.

Sandrine on LinkedIn

Quitting, 'sucking', and failing your way to a better life
Quitting, 'sucking', and failing your way to a better life Michael Wolfe - San Francisco

Description of your talk: Almost every success is preceded by being willing to quit something that is not working, potentially suck at a new job, and risk total failure. Mike will walk through several examples of quitting, sucking, and failing from his own career as well as those of several well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. He will also help answer how we know the difference between a “good” and “bad” fail and how this model can be applied in your own career.

Speaker Bio: Michael is a serial entrepreneur who has been a founder, founding employee, or executive at four startups, including Vontu (2007 acquisition by Symantec), Kana (1999 IPO), and I/PRO (1998 acquisition). He spent two years on the executive team of Symantec after the Vontu acquisition. He has also been an entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark Capital twice. He has taught at Stanford University, where he graduated with a BS and MS in computer science. He has lectured at Harvard, Dartmouth, and St. Mary’s business schools and has spoke at several conferences, including TechCrunch Disrupt, Always On, and Failcon San Francisco. He has also invested in or advised several B2B startups. When Mike is not working or with his family, he enjoys, triathlon, cyclocross, and ultra-distance running.

Michael on LinkedIn

Failure as a requirement for successful startup eco-systems
Failure as a requirement for successful startup eco-systems Marcus Kuhn - Zurich

Description of your talk: About 1 out of 10 VC funded startups fail to meet the investors expectations. Only around 3 out of 10 make back the money that was invested in them. The risk involved in creating companies that scale means a very different risk-reward scheme compared to traditional young businesses. Failure is inevitable – but also required. Failure creates experienced entrepreneurs and it means the ideas pursued are ambitious enough.

Speaker Bio: A graduate from the prestigious University in St. Gallen Marcus has a business background with a specialisation in strategy. No matter where he is, Marcus knows how to get things done effectively. He’s interested in the web and technology.

Marcus on LinkedIn

3 x (virtually) broke - and still going
3 x (virtually) broke - and still going Dorian Selz - Zurich

Description of your talk: We initiated Memonic when there was no Catch, Evernote, Springpad. Suddenly we faced a well-oiled Silicon Valley machine. Memonic – manual note taking – stalled. Squirro – automatic note taking – was born. With Squirro we may have a too novel product proposition. Hence our journey: Between exciting and being broke – serially.

Speaker Bio: Dorian is a serial entrepreneur and currently building the third startup. Today he is co-founder and CEO Squirro.com, a personal digital research assistant. The company also offers memonic.com, a web based digital notebook. Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of local.ch, the leading local search platform in Switzerland. Prior to launching local.ch, from 1999 to 2005 he was Partner and COO at Namics, an internet professional services firm. He holds a PhD in information systems from the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland. He graduated from the University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Dorian on LinkedIn

Amazee 2 Amazee Labs
Amazee 2 Amazee Labs Dania Gerhardt - Zurich

Description of your talk: Success breeds success, but failure does not need to produce more failure. In fact, when carefully examined failures provide valuable lessons that can be applied when taking a second run at something and help ensure a successful outcome.

Speaker Bio: A native of Basel, Dania studied economics at the University of Basel. In 2007 she co-founded Amazee 2 Amazee Labs in Zurich. She has also been involved with TEDxZurich and was co-host in 2012.

Dania on LinkedIn

Fail Forward >> Nine Notions of Innovation
Fail Forward >> Nine Notions of Innovation William Kanaan - Zurich

Description of your talk: Entrepreneurship is about experimentation — a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Being an entrepreneur isn’t about failing, it’s about questioning the status quo, and taking a scientific approach to life. At Google, we broadly follow 9 notions of innovation that help guide our behavior and our approach to experimentation.

Speaker Bio: William Kanaan, New Business Development Manager for EMEA, is a high tech veteran who has founded and worked for several startups in the Silicon Valley and Canada. He has been a senior software architect and consultant at Netscape, Sun and Fujitsu consulting. During the last 7 years at Google, William worked on Mobile, News and Ads systems. William holds a bachelor degree in computer science.


skim.com - the story of a failure, lessons learned
skim.com - the story of a failure, lessons learned Balz Roth - Zurich

Speaker Bio: Balz Roth is partner of the international Business Angel Network Go Beyond, leads its Zurich Chapter and serves as lead investor in a number of startups. Balz is both an experienced business angel and a successful entrepreneur, with over 20 years experience founding and running several SMEs in the technology and media environment and the lifestyle and entertainment industries. His broad know-how of different industries, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit and strong analytical skills help him to understand, select and guide promising entrepreneurs. Balz has an Electronic Engineering Degree and an Executive MBA from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Privately he enjoys outdoor pursuits such as running, skiing and flying. He lives with his family in Zurich and Somerset UK.

Balz on LinkedIn 

Discussion Panelist 
– Finance & Failure: Investor perspectives
– Failure as necessity for startup ecosystems



Discussion Panelist
Discussion Panelist Jan Fülscher - Zurich

Morning Panel: Finance & Failure: Investor perspectives.

Speaker Bio: Start-up ambassador and expert in start-up matters. Connector. CEO of Business Angels Switzerland. Co-entrepreneur for a number of start-ups, consultant in the start-up industry, mentor and trainer / teacher at a number of universities.

Jan on LinkedIn

Discussion Panelist
Discussion Panelist Sébastien Flury - Basel

Morning Panel: Finance & Failure: Investor perspectives.

Speaker Bio: Previously startup mentor, now turned entrepreneur. Blogging to share some ideas and boost the Swiss startup scene, I love connecting the dots and am a “startup activist”. I love winter sports (ice hockey, snowboard & ski) and am the proud dad of 2 little boys.

Sébastien on LinkedIn

Discussion Panelist
Discussion Panelist Daniel Moser - Zurich

Morning Panel: Finance & Failure: Investor perspectives.

Speaker Bio: Daniel is CEO and Co-Founder of Quitt.ch, which takes care of everything that is required for a correct and legal employment in private households. He holds a Masters in Computer Science with a Minor in Economics from ETH Zurich, where he graduated in 2006. Afterwards he was a Consultant and Software Engineer at Zühlke Engineering AG for 3.5 years. During this employment he gained a lot of experience while working for a big variety of companies such as Phonak, Swisscom, Diebold, and also startups like Neuropie Solutions. In 2010, he resigned from Zühlke to start working fulltime on quitt.ch, which was launched in October 2011 and now has several hundred customers. quitt.ch is Daniel’s first startup company and was selected in the Top 100 startups in Switzerland for 2012.

Daniel on LinkedIn

Discussion Panelist
Discussion Panelist Jakob Strebel - Zurich

Afternoon Panel: Why failure is a stigma in Switzerland

Speaker Bio: Experienced “starter” of Datacenter and Networking startups, when Business Development, Sales, Sales- and Channel management go hand in hand. My slogan is leading by doing it. My passion is, to bring startups into the main Market. From the early adopters (technical buyer)to the customers who cares more about the Cost Benefit ratio.

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