MSc BIS Field Trip 2022 

The Diary

Where business dreams come true...

The FHNW organizers welcome you to the diary of the Silicon Valley 2022!!!

 Local organizer

The Diary structure is such that for each company/university presentation there is an article, followed by its authors (i.e. students to whom the visit was assigned), and some photos taken during the talk. For each extra activities only photos are shown. Presentations are shown in chronological order from the first event to the most recent one. 

Enjoy, and let yourself inspire...

Let's get started with...

Introduction & Kick-Off • 05.09.2022 

Each student was assigned to a company/university visit, for which she/he was in charge of (a) introducing the company/university reality to the rest of the students and (b) writing a short article. 

Meta Store • 05.09.2022 | afternoon

On the 5th of September, we started our field trip in Silicon Valley. One of our first stops was at the Meta store in Burlingame California where we had a hands-on experience with their newest hardware. The Meta store opened on 9.5.2022 and offers around 145 square meters of retail space. It is located on the meta-campus near their reality labs headquarters, where they help to build the metaverse. The store head is Martin Gilliard who has been working for Meta for more than 4 years. 

The store aims to show visitors how their products can be the gateway to the Metaverse in the future. Martin Gilliard says that they are not selling the Metaverse in their store, but he hopes that people will come in and walk out knowing a little bit more about how their products will help connect them to it. The store gives potential customers the opportunity to get a hands-on feeling of their products and to try them out. These objectives are set to make the product development customer-oriented. Visitors' experiences in the store support Meta in defining their future retail strategy.  


Products shown in the meta store include the Meta Portal, Ray-Ban Stories, and Meta Quest 2. Meta Portal refers to a special device in the size of a tablet, allowing the user to experience smooth video calls or conferences. Features of the device are a moving camera following the user along its movements, as well as adjustments in the voice volume of the speaking person. Special AR effects and different integrated apps provide a special video experience. Ray-Ban Stories is a collaboration resulting in different types and colors of Ray-Ban sunglasses with integrated functions like taking pictures, capturing, and sharing moments. If one is listening to music on his phone, the volume can be adjusted right on the side frame of the sunglasses. The third product available in the store is Meta Quest 2. In order to provide the full experience, visitors can try on the Meta Quest 2 directly in the store and play a game in the virtual world.  

The Meta store visit allowed us to get more insights into why Meta is offering this store, getting a new perspective and live experiences of their products. 


Afrodita Abdili

Lizanne Ottiger 

Silicon Foundry, Mr. Mark Menell • 06.09.2022 | morning

In September 2022, our group of students from the MSc Business Information Systems program at the FHNW School of Business, led by our dean, Prof. Dr. Knut Hinkelmann as well as other faculty members, visited the Silicon Foundry, a membership-based innovation advisory firm, based in San Francisco, where Mark Menell partner at the Silicon Foundry talked about the ways in which they help corporate clients to remain at the innovative edge. 

The Silicon Foundry serves its corporate members in multiple ways: 

See for more detailed information. 

The Silicon Foundry does not see itself as a consulting or research firm. Rather, it enhances its members' existing efforts by providing services such as those listed above. 

Contrary to what might first come to one's mind when looking at the relationships between startups and established companies, the type of relationships that the Silicon Foundry helps its clients establish with Startups are not at all limited to mergers and acquisitions. Corporations introduced to a startup of particular interest to their business activities may become customers of the startup, a supplier and partner, or engage in co-creation with one or more start-ups. 

The Silicon Foundry does not only scout for new technologies and startups, it also helps companies to make the perfect match and to navigate differences in corporate culture that often exist between incumbent enterprises and startups.  

We thank Mark Menell and the Silicon Foundry for their hospitality as well as the highly interesting insights and hope for a continuation of the exchange between members of our institution and the Silicon Foundry. 


Wilhelm Düggelin

David Räz

Ecosystem Ventures, Mr. Alexandrer Fries 06.09.2022 | afternoon

On the second day in San Francisco, our study group visited the Silicon Foundry where we met the investor Alexander Fries after lunch. We got a very insightful presentation from Alexander Fries about his two major Venture Capital firms Ecosystem Ventures & Digital Twins Capital. 


With Ecosystem Ventures, Alexander invests and consults companies around significant technologies and innovative business ideas. The focus is primarily on companies that are based in Europe or have strong European ties. Alexander's new company, Digital Twin, focuses on bringing similar startups together to increase success rates.   


Alexander is investing in startups in the Early Stage, which means high risk but also high-profit potential. It is all about finding THE next unicorn. The criteria for getting funded were very interesting. In the valley, it is all about fast growth and one of the biggest criteria in this investment phase is how the investor judges the founder team. In the end, passion, risk, speed, and flexibility make the valley so special. 


In general, we learned a lot about the perspective of a venture capital firm in early-stage investments and had a great opportunity to discuss this topic in detail. 


Aron Oehrli

Philip Schwarz

Airbnb • 07.09.2022 | morning

During the Field Trip, we had the chance to visit Airbnb. Airbnb – “AirBedAndBreakfast” operates as an online marketplace for lodging. Founded in 2008, Airbnb with its multisided platform has had massive growth and is nowadays used by millions of people. Hosts can rent out single rooms, flats, or even houses. On the other side, visitors can book these listings. 

In 2021, they had a revenue of 6 Billion with a headcount of around 6200 employees. Which gives revenue of around $977’000.- per employee. 

Besides their traditional “home” business model, Airbnb has developed a new business model called “Experience”. Airbnb Experiences are in-person or online activities hosted by inspiring local experts. They go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in a Host’s unique world. 

Home Business 

The “Home Business” is the business model that they started with. 55% of hosts are women. The average US host earns around $7’000 a year. Long-term rentals becoming more and more popular. They have doubled from 2019 to 2020. Today, around 25% of all bookings are long-term. 

Experience Business 

The “Experience Business” is a newer business model which was introduced in 2017. It is focused on custom experiences such as surfing lessons, cooking sessions, tours from local guides, etc. The average global experience earnings during a year is around $10’000. Top experiences make up to $800’000.  

Methodology and staffing 

Around 30% of employees who are working at Airbnb are Software Engineers. They currently focus on stable infrastructure. For new features, they have teams that are focused on quick prototyping. To get early feedback, they invite small groups of people who have a look at the new features and give feedback. They have changed the release cycle last year to have two major releases in a year (Spring and Fall). 

This visit offered us various interesting insights. Especially the strive towards simplicity in their services as well as their great office space was very inspiring. 


Oliver Köchli

Stéphane Krebs

VoiceBase, Mr. Walter Bachtiger • 07.09.2022 | afternoon

Walter Bachtiger founded VoiceBase in 2010 in California. VoiceBase is an AI-powered speech analytics solution providing business insights from voice and call data to the entire enterprise. Using the latest voice recognition tools such as natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), VoiceBase’s software converts auditory information gathered from customer service phone calls into useful data. VoiceBase assists world-class businesses in discovering, managing, and measuring sales, service, and marketing activities inside contact centers and throughout the whole organization, in addition to identifying consumer sentiment. 

According to Walter, the most crucial responsibility of a CEO in a tech company is to "never run out of money, never forget to chase after money, and never forget the first two rules." In other words, this is the most important job a CEO can have. When you are in charge of a technology firm, there is a constant stream of money going in and out of the business. Silicon Valley is home to two-thirds of the billion-dollar start-up firms in the region and it is essential to have an understanding that the "winner takes all" game is played by start-ups in the technology firm. He mentioned that there are three distinct ways that money or capital might be dispersed: fair share, first gets more, and winner takes all. Money and other forms of capital serve as the company's "rocket fuel," and the ways to achieve success are to maintain a high growth rate and a surplus of the remaining money. He even spoke on the challenges of getting the business off the ground and noted how even the worst day might turn out to be the best day in certain circumstances. 


Fritzy Parakkattel

Swissnex • 08.09.2022 

Our group had the opportunity to visit Swissnex, headquartered in San Francisco, a global network that promotes exchange between Switzerland and its partners in science, education, art, and innovation. At Swissnex, we met with Julia Bislin, Program Manager, who explained how she and her colleagues' roles contribute towards making sure that companies can get up and running quickly while minimizing any potential risks associated with such endeavors. She also gave us a comprehensive overview of all the programs they offer for businesses looking to expand their reach into new markets start operations within Silicon Valley and beyond or simply develop innovative products. 

We also got to see first-hand some success stories from startups who have received support from Swissnex over the years through their “Wall of Success” which highlights successful companies with Swissnex backing up on one wall. 

At every step along our journey throughout Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, our FHNW student group gained invaluable knowledge that will serve us well as we continue down paths toward success within innovative industries around Switzerland or beyond! These experiences during this tour have given students a better understanding not only about potential opportunities but also how best utilize those opportunities once presented; something that will for sure prove useful no matter what field they decide upon! 


Anissa Boukoffa-Jamali

Lavina Luke

Google12.09.2022 | morning

The FHNW International Field Trip to Silicon Valley 2022 created an opportunity for students to visit Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. As we all know, Google is known for its search engine and it is an American Company, and in the present day, it has become one of the best companies, in the world. Google was founded on September 4 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. 

On September 12, 2022, our FHNW study group visited the Google Headquarters in Mountain View and got the opportunity to go there, we were able to get a lot of insights regarding Flutter (Gpay, Google Ads, Google One, etc.) from Nilay Yener who is working there as a project manager. She spoke about her experience and what they do at Google. 

Moreover, she explained, how Googlers build products that would help create opportunities and build possibilities for everyone. She also shared how is the working culture at Google and she said, Google provides an environment to their employees in which each googler feels like working at home and they always nice to each other, support each other, and help each other. After that, we had a tour of the Google campus and I was fascinated by what we saw there. 

Last but not least, now I feel, I am a Google Fellow and In the future, I would love to be a Googler, who serves uniqueness, insight, and great imagination to the Google community. Overall it was an amazing and invaluable experience. 


Gagandeep Singh

Testarossa12.09.2022 | afternoon

Testarossa Winery, located in Los Gatos, California, was founded by Rob and Diana Jensen. The Jensens' goal is to produce small-lot wines of the highest quality using sustainable viticultural practices.  


The grapes for the Testarossa wine are coming from farmers who have their vineyards located in some of the most prestigious appellations in California: Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, and Santa Barbara County. The climate and soils in these regions are ideally suited for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. In the winery, they use a combination of traditional techniques along with state-of-the-art technology to create wines that express the unique character of each vintage. 

“One of the worst things you can do is to continue doing something simply because you've always done it that way.” 

This was a lesson we learned during the visit. In today's world, it's important to constantly question what we do and how we do things. Rob and Diana used to work in the tech industry before they started the winery in 1993 in a Silicon Valley garage. We can learn a lot from other industries, particularly the tech industry, and apply those lessons for example to the more traditional wine-making industry. 


Benjamin Haueter

Michael Buholzer

Swisscom • 13.09.2022 

Many large Swiss companies maintain outposts within Silicon Valley to ensure not miss major trends. This is also true for Swisscom, which as a leading technology provider in Switzerland was one of the first to open an outpost in the Valley back in 1998. The aim of the outpost is to feed external innovation into Swisscom and thereby support its own business as well as its customers in Switzerland. 

Swisscom has had a presence in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, and the outpost in the heart of the tech hub is a key part of its global innovation strategy.  As the home of many of the world's leading tech firms, the Valley is the perfect place for Swisscom to test new ideas and technologies. In addition to working with Startups and established firms alike, the Silicon Valley outpost is also responsible for driving Swisscom’s internal innovation initiatives. They have a dedicated team of engineers and experts who are constantly exploring new ways to improve products and services. Swisscom has already established itself as a leader in the area of cloud computing, and the Outpost will allow the company to continue to develop new and innovative solutions for its customers. In addition to cloud computing, the Outpost is also focusing on the Internet of Things, 5G, artificial intelligence, and lately on Web3. 


Fernando Stutz

Robin Lehner

Impossible Food • 14.09.2022 

And now for something completely different…

From the offices of tech companies using data and multi-sided platforming to create businesses to a top-flight research lab for food technology, Impossible Foods represented quite a departure for the group as we donned white lab coats, hair, and beard nets and entered a world of food blenders, pipettes, and gas spectroscopy “sniffers” analyzing aroma and at least half of what makes for “taste” in food for us humans.

This very much reflected the ethos of Impossible Foods, which leverages its position in proximity to academic centers of innovation and excellence in California, particularly in agriculture, food processing, and production, to try to disrupt the greenhouse-gas-intensive farming methods around beef cattle and meat production. The company’s founder Pat Brown always intended to do so not by seeking to market to the currently eco-friendly consumers like vegans and vegetarians, but rather determined meat-eaters who still want to weigh their ecological impact with an excellent vegan substitute for meat.

Having removed the wheat proteins they started out using through continuous experimentation to appeal to more consumers (celiacs finally welcome!), the group went on to learn an important lesson in the lab visit; Heme, the patented extract from soy root complexes that allows Impossible burgers to “bleed” like real meat burgers and capture similar aromas to cooking meat, tastes a lot better in a burger than when tasted from a flask. Adventurers one and all… now where’s that Burger King grill and some Impossible patties in the test kitchen…?


Rijon Mushkolaj

Benjamin Kirby, Mr. Richard Socher • 15.09.2022 

If you're interested in Artificial Intelligence, then you'll want to check out this story about a group of students who visited the founder, Richard Socher at his ranch. 

It's no secret that Richard Socher is an important figure in AI. He's the founder of, which is a search platform that focuses on privacy, customization, and AI widgets. Richard was a professor at Stanford University and the Chief Scientist at Salesforce.  

So when the group of students of the FHNW had the opportunity to visit him at his ranch and go for a walk with him, they were understandably excited. 

During the breathtaking sunset walk and the following in-depth discussion, Socher shared his thoughts on the current state of AI and where he thinks it's headed. He was also very open about the challenges and opportunities that come with working in this field. The students were impressed with Socher's knowledge and the way he was able to articulate his thoughts on AI.  

They came away from the experience with a better understanding of the potential of this technology and how it can be used to improve our lives. 


Cedric Roggwiller

Dario Stöckli

Plug & Play 15.09.2022 

Plug & Play was built upon the successes of the Iranian Amidi family whose carpet shop premises in Palo Alto played host to many of the transitioning big names now synonymous with Silicon Valley, Paypal, and DropBox being perhaps the most well-known. The original “co-working space” saw tech offices in the back with the shop running up front and an attractive investment opportunity in early-phase start-ups; free or reduced rent in return for equity in the companies that passed through.

That built fortune is still being invested in small-equity stakes in start-ups to this day, although the majority of the action is now in the purpose-built Plug and Play centers worldwide like the one we visited, and not the original rug shop still being run by the Amidi family in the downtown. Their ethos has concretized around an ethos of “open innovation” where large corporates, Venture Capitalists, and innovative start-ups can mix with their own seed capital and infrastructure to promote success.

Privileged to sit in on a real pitching session for the startups, we saw how challenging it can be to pitch a succinct summary of an often complex, technical business idea in just a few minutes of presentation, with broadly grouped industry verticals of 30-33 start-ups competing for interest from similarly grouped investors for each sector. In our session food supply and agriculture were very much the theme, with innovative tech ideas ranging from remote monitoring for beef and dairy cattle, soil and moisture monitoring for arable farms, innovative aquaculture, and even lab-grown pet food. This was our own favorite, apparently mirrored by Alireza Mansour, the local investment partner, who said they would proceed with this pitch to round 2 investment after our Q&A.

With 15 thousand business pitches a year and an average of one start-up receiving Plug & Play investment every day since 2009, the question left on many of our minds was whether we had an idea we might like to pitch at the local centers in Switzerland and get the ball rolling on our innovative businesses of the future… 


Benjamin Kirby