VNTR terminology – explained in simple terms


An accelerator is an institution that helps start-ups develop quickly through coaching over a certain period of time. In other words, it speeds up the development of a start-up. In Switzerland, there are three accelerators: Kickstart, F10 and Fongit.


Incubators put less emphasis on rapid growth. Their recipe for success is finding the right pace for start-ups. F10, the association that produced SIX, actually offers both: an incubator and an accelerator programme. The start-ups participating in the incubator programme have not yet been founded, but the concept, and often a basic prototype too, exist. The aim is for the teams to successfully found their start-up by the end of the programme, and to be “investor ready”.


Intrapreneurship (= intracorporate + entrepreneurship) refers to entrepreneurial behaviour displayed by employees within a company. The idea is for employees to behave as if they themselves were entrepreneurs. Some of Kickstart’s partners, such as Axa, Swisscom and Mobiliar, also send their intrapreneurship teams to Kickstart so that they can attend the master classes and coaching sessions with the start-ups. An excellent example of an intrapreneurship team that used Kickstart is the Axa “Up-To” car package service. At PostFinance, Matthias Egli from Ormera is a good example of an intrapreneur.

Development areas

Changing needs and new trends and technologies present opportunities for new or different business models. VNTR | Innovation & Venturing strategically looks for opportunities and defines development areas, i.e. related and potential new markets, that it sees as exciting. These development areas are not the result of a rigid, pre-defined process. Instead, they are identified by monitoring new trends, technologies and start-ups and by bringing together all sorts of different components. VNTR regularly checks to ensure they are still up to date and relevant.

Design thinking

Design thinking is a mindset involving a number of processes, tools and methods that can be applied to complex problems where the solution is not immediately apparent. Design thinking is distinguished by the fact that it starts off with the customer/individual (user-centred), and then – based on their observations/responses – identifies needs, which in turn helps to come up with ways of solving problems. Instant feedback is obtained and tested using quick and simple prototypes so that the results can be used to help with further development. Design thinking is the core method used for every innovation process in innovation teams today. It is also an approach customer experience management (CEM) teams are familiar with and use today  too.


Within the Swiss Post Group, and at PostFinance too, CO-STAR is a means of outlining new business ideas. Other companies prefer terms such as NABC, business model canvas and so on, whereas we use CO-STAR which gives us a common language when it comes to innovation projects.

The VNTR CO-STARs are normally in horizon 3. Each letter stands for an aspect of the project/idea: C = customer, O = opportunity, S = solution, T = team, A = advantage and R = result.


Unlike incremental innovation, radical or disruptive innovation can displace and destroy entire markets, existing products and companies. According to Clayton M. Christensen, radical innovations tend to come about in areas and markets that are of no interest to the market leader in terms of margins, for instance. The innovation is usually poor quality at the outset, but then evolves dramatically, becoming a disruptive factor in the high-quality, high-margin market of the market leader. Radical, disruptive innovations require a different approach to incremental ones.

MVP – minimal viable product

A minimum viable product is the initial, bare-bones version of a product that is trialled with customers and on the market before undergoing intensive development, and is either validated or invalidated based on the feedback obtained. It is usually the product’s critical function that is tested, and often in very simple ways (a mock-up, a paper prototype etc.). With that said, nowadays the initial version of a product on the market is often considered a MVP if just one critical function is tested without there being any completed RAT product.


Riskiest assumption test – a type of risk assessment test This term is being increasingly used to indicate that just one function is being tested without having a finished product. In the past, the term MVP would have been more common in this context. Today companies often use the term MVP when launching the first version of a product.


Proof of concept: providing evidence that a concept works A solution is tested in a small environment to see whether it performs as expected and actually works. We use this term in relation to start-ups when we test a solution they have come up with in our own technical environment.


The idea structuring method: normally used with presentations to obtain feedback on an idea, prototype or concept. NABC is an acronym made up of four areas that require analysis: need (of the customer), approach, benefit (to customers and companies) and competition (alternatives today and in the future, value proposition).

Pitch (or elevator pitch)

The presentation of an idea, prototype or concept in its most basic form. An elevator pitch is where you try to win over your audience in around a minute so you can move onto phase two (e.g. another appointment). A pitch presenting an idea tends to last five minutes and incorporates the NABC idea structuring method.


“Venture” covers all the related activities, structures, offers and teams. It stands for venture or risk capital, which is invested in startups, as well as in newly created projects and startups, or ventures, on the market. Venture includes the innovation team and the Corporate Venture Capital team.

  • VNTR – Innovation
  • VNTR – CVC

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