From the Swiss Alps to the Pacific Coast, our newest business member, Conexkt Ltd., is developing innovative projects, while helping entrepreneurs, innovators, startuppers, scientists and policymakers to transform their ideas into tangible projects. Conexkt is located in Sion (VS/Switzerland) and Abbotsford (BC/Canada), and is soon to open a branch in Tallinn (Estonia) via the estonian e-residency program. We got the chance to talk to one of their co-founders, Dr. Johann Roduit, about what he thinks business should be about, the challenges for Conexkt, and how storytelling and ethics are crucial for a company.
Tell us about your business, what do you do exactly?
Conexkt is a project development agency. It focuses on turning ideas into products and services. We offer consulting, communication, marketing, and coaching services. In a way, we act as a sort of incubator.
Why did you decide to establish a life in Canada and start such a company?
The company started in Switzerland. Our headquarters are in Sion (VS). But having some family and strong ties with Canada, it encouraged us to expand outside of Switzerland.
How did you build your network in the industry?
After years working in academia, with training in science communication, a background in the humanities and a PhD in bioethics, I noticed that to increase our impact in this world, we need to move from the world of ideas (the academic world) to the world of products and services (the business world). Both worlds should work together. I am also convinced that businesses can be – and should be – a drive for positive social and environmental change. This encouraged me to launch my own business. In addition, there is a strong need to communicate what science is all about, and what the latest scientific breakthroughs are. This is increasing as we live in a fake news/post-truth world. So, we saw the opportunity to launch science communication projects. Since then we have helped scientists with their storytelling, clarifying the underlying values driving their ideas and projects. We also created different platforms or venues to share their ideas, such as TEDx and scientific cafés. Quickly, we found that clients outside of the scientific community needed the same services. We also noticed that instead of being a hindrance to business, ethics can be used as an incubator of ideas. It helps you clarify how the core values of your business can be reflected in the products or the services you want to launch.
Storytelling is one of Conexkt’s strength. Now, I understand that this is an effective way for emotional communication for products like coffee, local micro breweries etc.
How can storytelling be applied to communicate scientific projects?
We, as humans, are storytellers. We communicate in stories. We analyse and process life in terms of stories. As you mentioned, we connect easily with a brand, if we see their products or services within a story. If we want to share a scientific project to a community outside academia, the same key elements apply. We want to know about the characters of the story (the scientists), why they work on their project (what do they value?), how their discoveries relates to a larger plot, why we should care about their discoveries, and how this project can be a drive for positive change. There are a lot of great products, services and scientific discoveries that we never hear about, because they have not worked on their storytelling. We aim to change that!
What are your biggest opportunities in Canada and Switzerland?
We see a lot of opportunity with the tech and research industry, as well as with startups and new ventures. Conexkt can help these different actors with their storytelling, to bring their ideas to the business world. We also hope to bring and facilitate projects from Canada to Switzerland.
What are your interests in British Columbia?
British Columbia is such a vibrant place. There is a real sense of adventure and possibilities. At Conexkt, we love this pioneering spirit. And this is reflected in the way we work.
Can you show us some of your latest projects?
- TEDxAbbotsford: Conexkt has been a key player in launching TEDx in Abbotsford. TEDx is a platform to share novel ideas and have a TED-like experience. We are excited to partner on this project with the University of the Fraser Valley.
- HENRY: Believing that business can bring positive change, Conexkt is involved in the ethical clothing industry with the brand HENRY.
- CONSTITUTION TIME MACHINE: Bridging research, digitalization, and science communication, Conexkt has launched at swissnex San Francisco the “Constitutions Time Machine” project (see: constitutions.ch), with the State Archives of Wallis. The goal of the project is to investigate how new digital tools should be used to write a new constitution.
What are the biggest challenges for your business?
A challenge is to grow our network in Canada the same way we did in Switzerland. That’s why we are excited to have been accepted as a new member of the Swiss-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. We are looking forward to see what new innovative projects we will be able to launch together!
What is always in your suitcase when you come back from Switzerland?
Walliser wine! Usually some Petite Arvine, from Marie-Thérèse Chappaz of Fully, an “icon of Swiss wine”. I had the pleasure of meeting her during a TEDx event. (See: Vers plus de beauté, de diversité et de partage – TEDxMartigny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoR6QDWIucU)
The SCCC would like to thank our member Johann Roduit for his time and effort spent for this interview.
Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce: www.swisscanadianchamber.com