BaselHack meets ti&m

An interview with Gabriel Salm, Head Basel and Thomas Wüst, CEO of ti&m

ti&m is one of the main sponsors of BaselHack 2022. We took some time to talk to Gabriel Salm, head of the recently opened Basel office, and Thomas Wüst, CEO and founder of ti&m.
The name says it all: ti&m stands for technology, innovation, and management. As such, the company covers the entire value chain in IT, from consulting, project management, UX design, and engineering to hosting and operations. Additionally, ti&m offers its own products, for example, a digital banking suite and workplace management tools. Over the years, the company has developed expertise in a wide variety of industries, such as banking, insurance, transportation, and the public sector. ti&m has offices in Germany, Singapore, and Switzerland, including Zurich, Bern, and a new office in Basel. Hence, now is the right time to get to know them better!
BaselHack: Let’s first get to know you, Gabriel. Could you tell us a bit about your career and how you became Head Basel at ti&m?
Gabriel Salm:  After school, I completed an apprenticeship as a polymechanic in the textile industry and then studied industrial and organisational psychology at university. This was also the first time I came across the topic of user experience, which made me a newcomer to the software industry (“Quereinsteiger”). Before joining ti&m, I spent 11 years with a software service provider. At the beginning of my career, I mainly worked as a user experience engineer, then as a business analyst and project manager, and finally as Head of the Industry Business Unit. I joined ti&m in May 2022 in the new role of Head Basel to set up this new location for ti&m. In this role, I am responsible for two main areas: the hiring and leading of qualified staff as well as taking care of account management for existing customers and acquiring new customers for ti&m in the Basel region. I appreciate the fact I can use my previous sales experience in this role.
BaselHack: How about you, Thomas – what is your background, and when and why did you decide to found ti&m?
Thomas Wüst: I studied computer sciences at ETH Zurich in the late 1980s and started my career in the banking industry. After that, I worked as a consultant. From 2002 to early 2005, I was the managing director of a national subsidiary of an IT group. In total, I have been active in IT-based innovation for 30 years. In 2005, I founded ti&m with the vision of creating innovation around a Swiss IT company. 
BaselHack: People from the Basel region may not know ti&m. Can you briefly introduce us to the company and its core competencies and offerings?
Gabriel: In short, ti&m can be best described as a custom software service provider focused on innovation and innovative solutions. Actually, the name is pretty self-explanatory: ti&m stands for technology, innovation, and management. We use established and new technologies to innovate, all the while drawing on our in-depth expertise to manage the entire value-creation process. We also refer to this concept as 100% vertical integration: Companies or government bodies can approach ti&m with their ideas, and ti&m will manage the entire process chain, which can include anything from ideation, design, implementation, and launching to hosting and operating applications. Therefore, ti&m employs experts in a wide range of roles: UX designers, software engineers, data scientists, business analysts, project managers, and DevOps engineers.
Our engineers work with established technologies, such as Java and .Net in the domain of backend software, Angular and React for the frontend domain, and cross-platforms (Flutter, React Native) or native ones (iOS, Android) for mobile applications. Our solutions include, for example, front-end and web applications, enterprise solutions, mobile apps, PWA and IoT solutions, portals and e-commerce, cloud projects, AI applications, and blockchain solutions. Furthermore, we offer our own products, such as the Digital Banking Suite, the Onboarding Suite, and ti&m places.
ti&m clients include banks, insurance companies, logistics & transportation companies, as well as public companies and government bodies.
BaselHack: Gabriel, you are the location manager of ti&m in Basel. This office was opened only recently. How come ti&m has opened an office in Basel, and what are its plans for the future?
Gabriel: There are two main factors behind ti&m's decision to open a new location in Basel. First, our unique corporate culture at ti&m requires us to be close to our customers rather than relying on shoring or outsourcing. So, opening an office in Basel brings us much closer to existing clients in the region and also makes us attractive to prospective clients who value this proximity and the opportunity to interact directly with their service providers. This is exactly where we see great potential for ti&m in Basel: There are some well-established banks and insurance companies, government agencies, and, of course, the whole life sciences and MedTech cluster in the region! 
Secondly, the local markets for qualified employees in Bern and Zurich are extremely saturated, with a lot of competition between service providers, large companies, as well as a multitude of small-to-medium-sized agencies – all competing for the same few candidates! We, therefore, believe that Basel is an attractive place to recruit qualified personnel from the tri-national area.
Our plan for the Basel office can simply be summed up as “from Basel for Basel”: We just want to have enough qualified employees to be able to serve the local customers well. Of course, there are always projects that are cross-location, and, sometimes, project size, resource availability, or the nature of the project forces us to assign employees from one location to a project at another location. We thus also expect our new staff members to be willing to work remotely for the Bern or Zurich offices for one to three days per week. 
In terms of staffing, we plan to have a headcount of 50 to 70 in Basel by 2025, mostly in technology (ca. 80%) but also a few roles in project management, business analysis, or UX design.
BaselHack: At ti&m, the employees are sometimes also called “surfers.” What is that all about?
Thomas:  First, I’m an avid windsurfer and surfer, but for me, surfing is also about being agile: staying agile on and off the board and being able to react to different circumstances and adapt. We also focus more on talent than hierarchy. When standing on a surfboard, a certain title or position doesn’t really help you – it’s all about what you are able to do. And, of course, we enjoy the sport at our summer event, Shake the Lake, where we wake-surf, wakeboard, or sail on Lake Zurich. 
BaselHack: ti&m also offers its own suite of products. We can mention here the Digital Banking Suite, the Onboarding Suite for client onboarding and identity check processes, and ti&m places, a simple workplace booking app to support a company's hybrid working model. So, alongside consulting and client projects, ti&m sells products in the SaaS model. How did this come about, and how does ti&m plan to differentiate itself from competing offerings?
Thomas: In addition to project work, ti&m has developed its own innovative products from the very beginning. And just like the solutions that emerge from our customer projects, our products are vertically integrated. By being close to our customers during project work, we understand the needs of the market and continuously develop our products, be it through new features or completely new modules.
In addition to convincing and creative pitches, it certainly helps us to acquire new customers for our products. We already have many customers who rely on products from ti&m.
BaselHack: The Basel area is well known for the life sciences and logistics sectors. How will ti&m position itself in this region, and how can ti&m bring in its expertise from other sectors? 
Gabriel: ti&m has extensive expertise in software engineering as well as first-hand experience successfully bringing solutions to the market. We think that this know-how for managing and implementing innovative solutions is universally applicable and is not limited to specific industries. For instance, ti&m has successfully implemented AI applications, cloud projects, augmented reality (AR), and blockchain-based solutions. We see these technologies as stepping stones that can be applied in different domains. We may not have a lot of experience in good practices (“GxP”), which are very important in the pharma and food sectors. However, we have a strong network of partners that we can bring into specific projects to help us bridge these gaps. Finally, we have already acquired industry-specific know-how that we can directly apply in Basel, for instance, in the banking and insuring industries, as well as in the area of e-government.
BaselHack: Technology is moving fast, and many companies complain about a lack of talent. What do you consider to be a talent, specifically in IT?
Thomas: We are looking for people who live and breathe innovation and get excited about making things happen. I also think it’s important to be a team player and be able to stay agile. As I always say, “don’t trust anyone who can’t surf.”  
Gabriel: A talent can solve problems independently, creatively, and proactively, especially as part of a cross-functional team. Talent includes the talent to find solutions, as well as the talent to communicate the solutions in an understandable manner.
BaselHack: How does ti&m differentiate itself from other IT companies in order to attract and retain IT talent? What makes ti&m special?
Thomas: We have an onshore strategy, which means we create on-site. We vertically integrate the whole IT value chain, so we can come up with an end-to-end IT solution for our client. We also dare to create our own products and focus on innovation. Finally, we live our values and place more importance on talent than hierarchy. 
BaselHack: Final question: Is ti&m currently looking for specific profiles in Basel and Switzerland more generally? Which ones?
Gabriel: Yes, ti&m is actively recruiting in Basel and beyond. In Basel, we are currently mainly looking for technical profiles. However, we are always open to receiving unsolicited applications for non-technical roles that fit within our strategy of 100% vertical integration. More specifically, we are looking for profiles in:
- Frontend: Angular, React and Vue in Basel (JavaScript/TypeScript)
- Backend: mainly Java in Basel (Spring, Spring Boot, RESTful services, JPA, Hibernate), .Net could be for placement in projects in Zurich
- Mobile: Native (iOS, Android) and cross-platform (Flutter, React Native), mainly for Zurich
- Data Science: mainly for Zurich
- DevOps or Sysadmins: only for Zurich