Balancing profitability and sustainability
Behind an innovative scale-up, there are always remarkable stories to be shared. Meet our recently appointed Chief Revenue Officer, Céline Jaeger, who was one of the first 10 employees of bNovate.
Dear Céline, congratulations on your new role as Chief Revenue Officer of bNovate. Please tell us more about your evolution to this position.
Thanks! After 20 years in the B2B market - introducing, positioning, and selling innovative solutions – I see it as a natural step. I started my career in product management, interspersed with an experience as a sales representative. I then worked abroad in different cultures as Market Manager South East Asia, collaborating in several regions and with various partners.
Back in Switzerland, I used my marketing skills to help transform bNovate from an R&D start-up into an SME. Driven by the promotion of sustainable technologies, my goal in this new position is to help the company grow into a global leader without losing the focus on durability.
You have been with bNovate for more than five years. How did your journey together start?
I would say, it was a lot of luck. When I came back from Singapore, I didn’t want to join a big company like the one I had just left. I needed to follow a purpose aligned with my values and decided to start my own business to support others with my knowledge. This was when Peter Ryser – bNovate’s co-founder and chairman of the board – contacted me. He was my professor when I studied Microengineering at EPFL and we have stayed in contact since then.
He was searching for a profile like mine to introduce an innovation to the market and invited me to meet Simon Kuenzi – bNovate’s co-founder and CEO. Being curious by nature, I went to Ecublens to learn more about bNovate’s product and I immediately fell in love with BactoSense. I found exactly what I was searching for: a small company developing a high-tech instrument with a sustainable purpose.
“Being curious by nature, I went to Ecublens to learn more about bNovate’s product and I immediately fell in love with BactoSense”.
When you joined bNovate in 2017, it was a 100% R&D company. In 2020 you helped to set-up the Sales & Marketing office in Zurich – what were the challenges of this major step and how has the team evolved since its founding?
During my first 3 years, I worked together with our partner Sigrist-Photometer to create Sales and Marketing tools to support the market introduction of BactoSense. At that time, we were a company developing products, but not selling them.
We quickly realised that we were too far away from the market and our users, which was an obstacle to improving our present solution and to developing new ones. This is when we decided to open our own Sales & Marketing department. To make this big project happen, we asked a member of the Board – René Lenggenhager – to become co-CEO Sales & Marketing of bNovate and lead the building of the team.
The main challenge was definitely the pandemic that occurred the same year. We had to hire people and build a team at a time when home office was mandatory. We also couldn’t visit our customers, as travelling was prohibited. Nevertheless, we are proud to have today a strong and efficient organisation of 12 people in Sales, Marketing and Product Management.
In consultation with the Board, René decided to step down at the end of last year and put me in charge of the team. I will now do my best to take over.
What does a day in your life look like?
Difficult question as every day of my life is different! But, in general, I have three types of days.
The ones when I work from home – I like them very much, because they allow me to fully focus on my open tasks and to be there for my family. Then, the ones in the office, where I usually go from one meeting to the next, trying to meet and exchange with everyone in the team. The third type is when I travel to customers or events – also a very inspiring part of my job.
What I enjoy is the diversity of my weeks. I have the impression of learning something new every day and being able to apply and share it right away. We are in a fast-paced environment.
What are your values, what do you believe in?
I am fully aligned with bNovate’s vision and values, which is also why I feel at home in this company. What matters most to me are the people. I am a team player and believe in true relationships based on trust. I am passionate and need to follow a purpose that I have faith in. I am a learner and love to share my knowledge.
What do you anticipate from this new position, in terms of both challenges and accomplishments?
Building the team is only the first step. We need to learn how to grow together to work most efficiently. I have to admit that the last 2 years were not that easy. We had so much work to do that we mostly forgot to have some fun.
I wish to add a touch of excitement and happiness to the workplace. I also would like to better understand the strengths of each team member so that everyone can use them most effectively. With this motivated and successful team, we can then follow our challenge of introducing BactoSense worldwide.
I will be able to talk about accomplishments when I feel that my team is performing at its best and our solution is used everywhere by happy customers.
What is the structure of the revenue team? Is it complete or are you still looking for additional talents?
The revenue team consists of the 3 departments: Product Management, Sales and Marketing. The product management team will welcome two new members in January and February. They will prepare for the launch of our new products and continue to develop the existing ones.
A new Marketing Manager will join us in April. After her start, we will evaluate if additional resources are needed in the team. The department that definitely needs to grow is Sales. We will soon need a Sales Manager, as well as a Key Account Manager and Sales Champion for Asia and the USA.
When you look back on the past five years, what events or milestones are you most proud of?
This is not an easy question as my mind is full of memories worth remembering. If I have to choose some of them, I would pick the following:
When I met BWT in 2017 – this collaboration led us to the development of AQU@Sense MB for pure water.
When I attended the UK Flow Cytometry Meeting in 2018 – this event showed me that flow cytometry is the technology of the future and that BactoSense is the perfect solution to implement it.
When in 2019 we presented our solution to the European Commission and won the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument – this recognition is the result of an amazing teamwork with Simon and Luigi.
When we moved into our first office in Zürich in 2020 – it was a wonderful feeling to experience the start of our new team.
When we got the Solar impulse Label in 2021 – as sustainability is very important for me, this label was the confirmation that we developed a product that changes the world.
When we launched BactoSense Multi in 2022 – I really appreciated working with our head of Product Management, Alexandre Guiller, and was proud that we managed to create good marketing tools despite the short deadlines.
What are the upcoming milestones for bNovate? What are you especially looking forward to?
This year, bNovate's main focus will be on the following:
Optimise our production
Finish the development of our new innovation
Prepare the market introduction of a new solution – which is planned for 2024
Create value content for our prospects and users
Continue our geographical reach
I am particularly looking forward to preparing the market introduction of our new solution, as this project involves all departments as well as our customers.
Where do you see bNovate and BactoSense 5 years from now?
I am convinced that BactoSense is meant to be the new standard in the water monitoring industry. In 5 years, bNovate will be known worldwide and our solutions will help many industries to optimise their processes. The waterworks will have peace of mind and be able to provide immediate action in case of water contamination. I also believe that the water regulation will be updated so that it will be possible to use Flow Cytometry instead of HPC for water quality control.
Dear Céline, thank you very much for answering our questions. We wish you a great start to the new year in your new role and lots of success in all your upcoming challenges!