The aim of the Sparks IPO Academy is to increase the IPO readiness of these companies and potential IPO candidates for an IPO on Sparks – our dedicated SME platform. Between the two "in-person" events - the kick-off and the closing event - participants attended monthly one-hour online modules which enabled them to efficiently be part of the Academy in line with their busy schedules.
Who took part?
The number of participants was deliberately limited, which enabled a direct exchange with renowned industry experts as well as giving the small group of companies the opportunity to expand their network across the Swiss capital market ecosystem. The selection of the companies was based on criteria such as C-level commitment, IPO readiness, track record, valuation, attractiveness of the business model/equity story as well as the probability of an IPO on SIX Swiss Exchange in the next 12-36 months. Care was also taken to respect different sectors and to ensure appropriate diversity across different regions in Switzerland. Participants came from a range of various sectors such as robotics, medical technology, biotechnology, industry and financial technology as well as several former winners and runners-up of the Top 100 Swiss Startup Awards.
What did the participants learn?
The C-level representatives of these companies explored topics such as corporate governance and what needs to be considered in preparation for an IPO. This included the composition of the Board of Directors, what is important when communicating an exciting equity story to investors, how a listing prospectus is prepared and what rules need to be considered as listed companies. In addition, they went through an IPO readiness assessment in the areas of finance and legal in separate break-out sessions and directly benefited from testimonials from people who have already had an IPO – such as Lukas Kothbauer, CFO of Aluflexplack (IPO 2019) or Walter Oberhänsli, Founder and CEO of the online pharmacy Zur Rose (IPO 2017).
What are our findings?
For many owners of the companies taking part in these sessions, an IPO was somehow artificial and far away: many often only mentioned it as a distant goal. In general, there is a perception among many founders and entrepreneurs that the IPO is the crowning glory at the end of their development. With the Sparks IPO Academy, we were able to show that this does not necessarily have to be the case and that an IPO, even instead of another costly private financing round C, D, E, can be a thoroughly worthwhile alternative to finance the growth of the company and at the same time benefit from continuous and efficient access to public capital markets and growth capital.
It also became clear that the route to IPO-readiness is one that adds value and takes the company to the next level in many ways. Along the way and when launching their IPO projects, it is important for them to have shareholder alignment on the IPO intention early in the process and to spend enough time and coordination. Rushing into an IPO makes the project more likely to fail.
What happens next?
We are currently in the "post facto review" phase and are gathering feedback from participating companies and partners of the Sparks IPO Academy. The goal is to launch a second Sparks IPO Academy in autumn and to incorporate as much of the feedback received from the first course into the design of future formats. We already have a range of ideas with which we want to further develop the Academy and establish it more profoundly in Switzerland’s capital market. In September, following the Top 100 Swiss Startup Awards, which will take place on 7 September 2022, we will select the participating companies for the second run and send out the corresponding invitations before the end of the month. Interested companies can submit their application via the following link today: Application Form.