Leadinng to Scale-Up

Prepare your company for growth with Innovaud and IMD

The LeadiNNg to Scale-Up program is designed to propel tech companies from promising startups to fast-growing scale-ups.

After two successful editions and having graduated 26 entrepreneurs, we are back for a third consecutive year offering you the program you need right now if you are scaling your company!

Together with IMD, this program has been built for CEOs based on feedback from successful scale-ups, specifically to support the next-generation of fast growing tech companies. “We did a lot of research to try to understand what these scaleups needed,” explained Jim Pulcrano, leader of the program. 

By joining the cohort, you will be challenged by IMD professors, and seasoned entrepreneurs, as well as your peers in the program. You will also benefit from Innovaud’s broad network as well as a direct connection to the Scale Up Vaud community.

«Jim Pulcrano (IMD) put together an extraordinary line up of experts and entrepreneurs, from Silicon Valley to Europe, to share with us what it takes to lead a scale up and cross the chasm successfully»

Franck-Eric Flegbo
CEO, Drinkotec

One of Switzerland's finest places for deep tech startups to innovate and grow, Vaud just entered the Startup Genome's global startup ecosystem report (under the name "Greater Lausanne Region").

Alumni 2022-2023



First, you will go through a 30-minute call with Innovaud to review your eligibility and motivation. Then you will be invited for a 60-minute interview with an IMD professor, to get a sense of you and your firm’s development stage and challenges. This exchange will also confirm your scalability potential, founder motivation and fit with the program. Based on your needs, we will adapt the content and format of the LeadiNNg to Scale-Up program.

NB: CEOs should apply and participate in the program to enable deep peer-level exchanges in the group. Nevertheless, we encourage you to bring a team member to session where it makes most sense.


A full-day kick-off to get straight into the topic and get to know your peers. One goal of the program is to create a group of trusted leaders, confident to exchange and learn from one another. This is mandatory to join in person in Lausanne.


Over the course of 6 months, you will go through 10 sessions of 3-4 hours. Each session will be a mix of inputs from the IMD professors, joined by experienced entrepreneurs. The sessions will be hosted ont the IMD campus in Lausanne approximately every 3 weeks in the evenings. You will be asked to keep a "learning journal" throughout the program.


The closing ceremony will take place in June in Lausanne. This is mandatory to join in person. 


Once a month, you will be invited to the Scale Up Vaud networking events. 

Delivery mode

The program will take place physically at IMD Business School (Lausanne).

For participants based abroad, we encourage you to come to Switzerland for the duration of the program and take advantage of that unique opportunity to explore the Swiss & European market. If you need any support in soft landing yourself and your company in the Lausanne area, do reach out to us, we will be happy to assist you. If you cannot stay for the duration of the program, we understand you might not be able to fly-in for all the sessions so if you need to punctually do one session remotely, do get in touch with us.


  • Applications for the 2024 cohort are now closed.
  • Start of the program: January 2024
  • End of the program: June 2024
  • If you want to receive the call for applications for 2025, write to charlotte.ducrot@innovaud.ch

Admission criteria and process


We welcome founders of innovative tech companies, based in Switzerland or abroad, which have an international ambition to scale. Your company should employ at least 8 people, have raised a significant Seed Round (>1M CHF) and be planning a Series A (or have just closed it). The program is industry agnostic. 


The selection is made based on the eligibility criteria and the interviews with IMD. We will confirm your participation after selecting the complete class of participants. Based on the participants’ list you will be able to confirm or not your participation. Your admission will finally be confirmed after receipt of the payment.

The number of participants is limited to 20.

For companies based outside Switzerland

The Canton of Vaud is the place to scale your company! We encourage you to join the program in person and we will offer you extra advantages: 

- 6 months of office spaces at EPFL Innovation Park

- personalized support to soft land and direct access to the Swiss innovation ecosystem 

- be part of a local community of ambitious founders

Check it out here.


2023 LeadiNNg to Scale-Up participants


The main topics cover 3 pillars: leadership, organizational design and strategic scaling.

Making choices and managing growth:
Companies die when they run out of cash, no matter how good the tech is or how smart your founders are. They also die when they chase too many opportunities.  As you make choices, what are the tradeoffs?  Finding product-market fit is crucial, but how many tries do you get at it?

Reconciling scalability and sustainability:  
Should anyone create a product or service that is environmentally unfriendly? Is it acceptable to scale a firm without being sustainable? Does your management of environmental and social issues help you to attract employees, customers and capital…. or does it hurt you?  In this session, we’ll explore why sustainability will be central for your scaling efforts and discuss some of the concrete actions you can take to seize the SDGs/ESG as an opportunity for your venture. 

YOU - Leading to scale:  
Ultimately it will be the quality of your leadership that determines your venture’s success. You have been a great founder; are you the right person to lead a team that is scaling up fast? How effectively are you and your co-founder(s) working together?

Scaling for customers:  
It is good that you already have traction with some customers, but has your firm “crossed the chasm” and engaged with mainstream, conservative customers? Are you ready for this?  Should we go for further market penetration, new market development, new product development or even diversification? In this session, we’ll dive into understanding the value proposition that your current and future target customers are seeking and work on what expansion should look like for your firm

Your Team and Scaling:
You cannot scale without growing your team with the right people, and without incentives, a structure and a culture that are aligned with your scale-up ambitions. This is your responsibility; if done too fast you run out of money; executed too slowly, you miss opportunities, incur burnout and never build a winning culture. Considering structures, processes, incentives, and strategy, we’ll discuss how you build and incent a scalable organization

Building a board that scales with your firm
Presumably, you have a good Board, but is your Board composed of the people who can help you scale?  Does your Board have the right people, the right processes, and the right attitude for your next stage? How should you prepare for Board meetings? 

Strategy, Execution & Exit:  
At some point you may be considering an exit for your firm, the so-called “liquidity event” for your investors (and you).  Building a strategy to get there, and executing it, isn’t just a series of tasks and activities.  It requires rolling up your sleeves and working hard, but we need to be clear on the objective, how we create value along the way, and the steps needed to get to whatever that final moment is.

Partnering for scale:
It is unlikely as a startup that you can or should be doing everything yourself. What do the best partnership practices look like? Which activities should you own, which should you control, and which should be done with a partner?  How do you negotiate a sustainable and profitable relationship?

Momentum and your scaling narrative:
You had a great pitch when you started. It brought you your first employees, customers, and investors. What is your story now?  When you started it was about survival, and the only metric was “how much cash do I have?”.  In this session, we’ll try to assure that your current and future stories match the momentum that you’re building and that you have the OKRs, KPIs, or gut feeling needed to assure that you’re progressing as you want. 

Change leadership:  
Something in our previous sessions will likely require a change in your team, or even the need to help your customers change so that they can buy and use your product. We’ll work on stakeholder management, influencing people that you have little power over, and understanding the psychology and process of change management, with you leading the change.  We’ll close this session, and the program, with a graduation ceremony and dinner. 

*The majority of the above sessions are preceded by an informal 30-minute discussion on topics chosen by the class, and led by the class (meaning we’ll actually start these sessions at 17:30).  Examples have been customer segmentation, ESOPs, employee remuneration, and Board remuneration.  This will be discussed with the class in the opening session.

Exact order and dates will be communicated based on the speakers’ availability. Also, the final content will be dependent on the needs of the participants, learned through our interviews with you. Those topics are applicable to all industries. Should you have a doubt, don't hesitate to contact us!


  • Training with top IMD entrepreneurship professors and seasoned entrepreneurs
  • Access to a network of successful scale-ups and founders
  • Practical case studies with experts
  • Being part of a small community of ambitious founders
  • Certificate of completion recognized by Innovaud and IMD (NB: this diploma does not give you the status of IMD Alumni)


In addition to the value we expect that you will get from the program, we also have the IMD Startup Scholarship for you. Upon completion, you and your firm will receive CHF 5,000.- towards any of IMD’s online or face-to-face open programs. This is a chance to explore a topic that we may have missed in this program, to provide development to a colleague, or to go even deeper into the topics of this program.

Next start and fees

The program starts in January 2024 and ends in June 2024.

Fees: CHF 9’900.-  

Innovaud may provide a scholarship of 50% of the fee (CHF 4950.-) for a limited number of Vaud-based compagnies who might have cashflow challenges and might otherwise not be able to afford the fee. Interested candidates should send an email to caroline.schwarz@innovaud.ch explaining why they would like to be considered for the scholarship.

Scale yourself to scale your company.

Contact us

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