Gert Christen grew up in Switzerland and spent his youth in a village in the mountains. All his life, he was fascinated by the outside world. So as soon as he could legally travel, he went abroad to work.
At 21, he was living in Australia, improving his English. At 24, he ended up in Singapore, where he stayed for three years. There, he helped build a startup that sold RFID technology.
The company needed someone to put together all the pieces to create a complete, working solution. What was missing was software. So Gert wrote the software, then sold the products, and supervised the delivery. These steps helped him develop his business sense, and taught him how to persevere.
During that period, Gert realized that others his age understood things he didn’t. This inspired him to know more, so he returned to his home country to get a degree in Business Administration.
Once Gert finished his degree, Nokia came calling. They were looking for someone with the experience to put the pieces together, make a complete solution, sell it, and deliver it. So Gert became Nokia’s rollout manager in Switzerland, in charge of the commercial aspects of building two cell phone networks.
Gert was now dealing with many millions of dollars worth of business, hundreds of employees, and warehouses and offices all over the country. Using his newly acquired business knowledge, he put a process and management structure in place, among other responsibilities. When another opportunity arose, which involved building an entirely new business unit within Nokia that required someone with experience managing the risk of innovative projects, he landed that job.
Gert moved to the USA to build up and lead Nokia teams for engineering, project management, and technical support for some of the data cell phone networks in the country. As more and more people started playing games on their cell phones, Gert and his team launched the apps business for Nokia in the Americas, serving several hundred million users.
When the iPhone came out, everyone suddenly wanted to know how to do business with apps. Somehow, the word got around that Gert had just returned to Switzerland, knew how to do business with apps, and knew people at Nokia, Apple, and Google.
As one thing led to another, Gert ended up helping people build their own businesses, and later, building incubators that helped people build many businesses. Over the last few years, he built incubators for the ETH University in Zurich and other partners, for the city of San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley. He also began teaching entrepreneurship at several universities.
Gert also created Startupfair, Switzerland’s first national conference for startups and the innovation ecosystem. The team won the national marketing award for their campaign because they made 10% of the Swiss population aware of the topic of starting their own company.
Today, Gert helps large companies start new businesses. As someone who incubated startups and launched a new business within a company, he fully understands the startup and intrapreneur perspectives. Most recently, he’s s been advising large corporations who would like to create their own incubators for new and innovative businesses. For more about Gert, click here.