Venture Builders: the Key Element for Building a Corporate Startup

Bundl, my initial surprise and amazement about the drive and dedication of our Rockstar team faded away and was replaced by a (healthy?) level of stress about finding the next top talent to help us grow.

As a team, we clearly set the ambition to grow our team significantly in the next two years. However, the high rate of returning customers, combined with many new international corporates finding their way to Bundl is forcing us to scale up our recruitment efforts.

Last year, we had over 350 people applying for one of the open positions we had, often with decades of experience in Management, Consulting, Design, or Leadership positions at corporations, combined with impressive academic degrees.

But we set the bar for becoming a Venture Builder at Bundl very high. Out of the strong pool of candidates, only about 2% tend to pass our “1 Day Challenge”, where we ask potential candidates that have succeeded at the first couple of recruitment stages to come spend a day in our office and show us their “superpowers” as Venture Builders.

What makes our Corporate Venture Builders so special?

The way we at Bundl build startups for corporates requires a combination of skills that are clearly linked to the three stages we go through with our customers:

1. Value Proposition

To successfully go from scratch to a validated value proposition pitch, our teams need to have the ability to plan, prepare, execute, and follow up on innovation sprints, but at the same time build close relationships with key stakeholders and create a strong business case to pitch for internal funding to the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) members of the corporations we’re working with.

2. Alpha Launch

Once the leadership team provides approval and funding for proceeding to the next level, two additional skills tend to become more important. Our venture builders try to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) where a good basic knowledge of graphic design or even some coding skills comes in very handy, even though in these stages our venture builders get a lot of support from our Design and Branding team at Bundl.

Besides pitching and validating cool and awesome-looking concepts, our goal primarily is to build profitable ventures for corporations. A key skill we require from all of our venture builders is the ability to build financial business models and long-term growth plans. Some of our team members learned these skills at previous work experiences in management, consulting or auditing, and others mastered these during MBA courses.

3. Startup Launch

If the two stages above lead to a positive business case, and the Leadership Team (LT) of our corporate customer approves funding, then we go into the actual startup stage. The skill of launching a startup and overcoming hurdle by hurdle is not something people usually learn at university. Most of our venture builders have already launched many startups before joining Bundl, which taught them the priceless skills of knowing many of the pitfalls and challenges that startups tend to experience. Our venture builders take ownership of building strong sales, marketing, and operations muscles to prepare for launch and recruit the best possible team to ensure continued success.

How do we find these Venture Builders?

Having great workshop techniques, being able to build prototypes and MVP’s, having a strong financial background AND being a great startup CEO, that all sounds too good to be true,.. DO these people even exist?

Absolutely, considering the broad spectrum of required expertise, it’s very difficult to refer to one or two Academic or even professional ‘pre-tracks.’ To give you some idea, let me present the track record of some of our Belgian and international venture builders:

Manu Vollens            3 Years Venture Builder at Bundl

Manu has a degree in Industrial Design. He worked as innovation and management consultant for 7 years before joining Bundl as a venture builder. In parallel, he successfully started and manages two startups: Gifts by Sir and Thea Swing.

Cedric Deweeck                    1 Year Venture Builder at Bundl

Cedric has a degree in Business Management and Digital Marketing. He Co-founded Idealabs in 2014, the first private and corporate accelerator in Belgium, where he helped over 25 young entrepreneurs through the different stages of their startup launch. After that, he launched multiple software startups by himself, such as Slide and Hivemind.

Afonso Rebelo De Sousa      6 months Sr. Venture Builder at Bundl

Afonso graduated as a visual designer and worked in the field for about 11 years on some of Adidas’ coolest campaigns and brands. He enrolled for an MBA at INSEAD and worked in business development and marketing for 4 more years at LinkedIn before joining Bundl as a venture builder. In parallel, he successfully helped launch a UK-based startup in the event/sponsorship industry, Airfinity.

What makes them join and stay?

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
– Steve Jobs

Many of our venture builders love diversity, independence, and having ownership of the type of projects they want to work on. That is often also the reason why they have built a broad set of skills, rather than focusing on deep knowledge in one or two fields. 

To embrace this, we have built an “Entrepreneur Model” for our venture builders. This allows them to manage the ventures they work on with us from A to Z: they manage their own budget, team, and planning while being incentivized to deliver outstanding work and maximize customer satisfaction and the success of these ventures. 

You can read more about the Entrepreneur Model in a separate article.

“Work hard, have fun and make history.”
– Jeff Bezos

The second reason why our venture builders love our team is exactly what Jeff Bezos has stated. At Bundl you can work with some of the newest technologies – like the VR project we’ve done with Telenet – or with some of the largest retailers in Benelux around The Future of Retail. 

However, while making history, we also provide a lot of opportunities for us as a team to have fun, like our “Funky Fridays.” We tend to stop working at 4 p.m. on Fridays and go do fun activities to celebrate the start of the weekend as a team.

I hope this view from the inside helps you understand why I believe our team is “worth its weight in gold!” 

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Maxime Sureda

Maxime Sureda

Managing Partner & Head of People & Operations