Finding Your Match: ETH Startup Speed Dating

When you’re a college student, chances are you’re probably already dreaming about finishing your academic career and venturing out into the world of jobs that actually pay good money and about being part of an awesome company. You might also be one of those poor people who have to think about their dreaded thesis and after all the bad things you’ve heard about this stressful project, you’re now looking for a start up to collaborate with that could make this whole ordeal a bit more fun. No matter what you’re looking for regarding the next step in your career, ETH Zurich has come up with something pretty neat that might just fulfil all of your dreams: The Startup Speed Dating.


Say What?!

The idea behind the Startup Speed Dating is that young, interested people get a chance to meet visionary Startups that are looking for talented new employees, students interested in writing their thesis in collaboration with the company, or even a Co-Founder for an ambitious idea of a new product. The best thing? It’s a casual event without a dress code and you’re not even obliged to bring along your CV. It’s all about meeting new people and having a chat about ideas, tech stuff, and what the future might hold.


The event is organised twice a year by the ETH Entrepreneur Club and is supposed to facilitate a first conversation between talented, educated people and ambitious, young companies. Moreover, the Club is trying to establish a culture of entrepreneurship in Switzerland, a country which is more focused on potential failure than on incredible success when it comes to starting a company. ETH is slowly but surely becoming the most supportive and innovative university regarding Startups, as they do not only provide great events such as the Speed Dating, but they also offer grants and office space to young entrepreneurs who decide to go solo after their education at the famous college.


How It Works

Both the students as well as the Startups have to apply for a spot at the Speed Dating and only about 120 candidates as well as 30 companies eventually get to participate in the event. However, there are no restrictions on what kind of background is required in order to take part, everyone is welcome to apply and gets a chance of being accepted, depending on the kinds of businesses that have been selected.


The evening is then organised over three rounds: First, the Startups get to pitch their ideas to the students and make them fall in love with their vision; they get 30 seconds to accomplish that mission. In the next step, the students have to hurry to get a token from the company they’re interested in, each token representing a spot on the startup’s table for a six minutes talk. Finally, the actual Speed Dating takes places and the candidates get to chat with the founders about more details as well as the opportunity for potentially working together. A networking event like this one would, of course, not be complete without an ensuing Apéro, giving the participants even more time to chat and mingle.


Our Experience

While this event might seem amazing to some people, it can also sound a bit too casual and too focused on short interactions that might not lead to anything. After all, are a few minutes truly enough to figure out if you like a company or not? Isn’t this whole thing, just like “real” Speed Dating, nothing short of superficial? As some of the Nomokians have already participated in the ETH Startup Speed Dating and live to tell the tale, we are here to reveal all the things you should know and expect from this experience.


The members of our team who went to the ETH Startup Speed Dating for recruiting purposes have fond memories of the atmosphere buzzing with young talents interested in taking the next exciting step in their career. While the actual time spent with potential candidates is quite short, it’s usually enough to get a first impression and to figure out, if the person could imagine working with us on our big vision. As Nomokians, we are not the only ones with certain expectations regarding this brief exchange; the students themselves often have a pretty good idea about what their potential employer should bring to the table and what their future job is supposed to look like. By comparing the expectations from both parties, only a few minutes can be enough to reveal, whether it’s a fit or not and if another meeting should be scheduled in order to discuss the possibility of employment.


We did not only send some of our co-workers to the Startup Speed Dating to find new talent, but we’ve actually recruited people after meeting them at the event who are now working with us. They applied for the Speed Dating, got invited (even if some of them weren’t even studying at ETH), met up with some Nomokians and left an awesome first impression which lead to a great job interview and an outstanding work experience. Roberto is one of the amazing guys we’ve met through the Startup Speed Dating and we couldn’t be happier to have him on board here at Nomoko. According to him, the whole experience of the event is somewhat weird, but that this is sort of similar to working at a Startup and he would recommend going there to anyone.


To finish up, I’d like to hit you with a fun fact that underlines just how much we love the ETH Startup Speed Dating: Back when we were just starting out as a company, when there was only an idea and one cool dude trying to figure stuff out, our CEO Nilson met Kevin Mersch at the Speed Dating and thus had found the perfect match for his first CFO at Nomoko. That’s right, you might just go to this event in expectation of a nice Apéro with a cold beer, but end up getting to co-found a Swiss Startup.


If you decide to go to the next ETH Startup Speed Dating, make sure to come and say Hi, we are definitely going to be there, waiting to meet you.


Written by Lea 

Image: Hong Kong – Lea