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Corporate Venturing 4 min

How to Get Your Company Ahead of the Startup Game

Disrupt from inside out with these 7 tips.

Let’s face it: we live in a world where any 20-year-old has the potential to grow a unicorn from their living room — they don’t even need a garage anymore.

  • Instagram was only 1.5 years old when it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion.
  • Airbnb has become 2x more valuable than Marriott, currently the biggest hotel chain in the world, in only 9 years. They have 3x more rooms than 90-year-old Marriott.
  • In 8 years, Uber has almost reached the market cap of Volkswagen, without owning a single car.
The new kids in town are more than just a hype.

Scope, adopt, adapt

Technological growth is exponentially outpacing the human capacity to keep up with it. Scientists and engineers are inventing more, faster, and better. It’s not about who is the strongest player anymore; it’s about who is the fastest to see the opportunity, adopt the technology, and adapt to the market.

But big corporates tend to struggle with this kind of innovation. Hierarchy chains lead to slow decision-making processes, and when the decision has been made, there are already a couple of competitors on the market — and probably the simplest thing to do is to acquire them.

Corporates are in pole position to develop ventures. They have the market knowledge, talent, capital, channels, and even the customers to easily go from idea to market launch in record time. All they need is the right mindset and a structure to put their resources into action: that’s where an external partner like us can help get things on the right track.

“If you have one billion dollars, you can put it into the acquisition of one company, or you can put it into 10 different ones and start them yourself.”

— Thomas Van Halewyck, founding partner at Bundl

These are his 7 ways for corporates to disrupt from the inside out:

 

1. Dynamics — Set up your disruption squad

Have a dedicated team (or several) that work towards innovation, instead of a few “innovation managers” scattered across several departments.

Our approach: Each of our ventures is led by one of our entrepreneurs and a corporate intrapreneur, surrounded by an external development team, a customer board and an expert board that does fly-in sessions where needed.

 

2. Resource Allocation — Full-time focus

You are in this race with people who work day and night to bring a new startup to the market. Don’t expect that giving your employees 20% of their time to work on innovation will produce the same results. Let them give 100%, and you’ll see those projects outpace the competition.

3. Location — Get out of headquarters

Don’t underestimate the power of location: it’s way more difficult to think outside the box when you’re in that same box. Get your team into an inspiring base of operations, where they can disconnect from your company’s mindset and truly achieve creative independence.

Bonus tip: Place them together with other intra/entrepreneurs or startups for an extra boost of creativity!

 

4. Incentive — Equity success fee

This is perhaps our most important tip. Not only incentive your employees to share and develop new ideas, but give them the proper reward for it. Otherwise, they might just take their ideas somewhere else. Don’t let your employees become your future competitor! Our approach: Think about sharing equity, success fees or other incentive models for your intrapreneurs. Learn more about our own Co-Entrepreneur Model here.

 

5. Process — Autonomy and “grow while doing”

Give your team a budget and let them blow it at their own discretion. Don’t hold them back with endless corporate bureaucracy. Ideate, build a prototype, go to your customer, come back and iterate. Let them learn from their mistakes and grow stronger every time.

Our approach: We recently built an MVP for a Belgian bank where the concept was visualized in 2 days and went live in 4 months. They told us it would have taken 2 years in their normal way of working. We’re no superheroes, just put skin in the process and get governance down to the bare minimum.

 

6. Ownership — Joint IP

Share the risk, share the success. Allow your people to put skin in the game and you’ll have your goals, motivations and mindset aligned. If you are working with external partners like ourselves, or acquire an existing startup, sharing the IP is the first step to nourishing a long-term relationship.

 

7. Communication — New brands

Corporate venturing gives you the advantage of starting something from scratch, no strings attached. This means that there’s a very small risk of damaging your existing brand’s image, you’ll have transparent and unbiased feedback from your customers and you’ll be able to give the consumer a fresh face and a very clear value proposition.

Bonus tip: You can still spin-in the new venture into the current brand after the MVP phase.

Want to see how your company can use corporate venturing to disrupt new markets? 

Let's talk corporate venturing!

Mariana Abreu

Innovation Journalist & Creative Content Creator

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