The people who do venture building and investing for large corporates don’t have it easy – and they told Mach49’s Senior Venture Builder Karen Nassif all about it. Read what she learned at Innov8rs Lisbon below. 

I recently spent three days at Innov8rs Lisbon talking to over 230 corporate innovators about their experience with venture building and investing and I was immediately reminded of my corporate days. The corporate innovation journey has not been easy for many years.

Big corporates have the talent, ideas, brand, resources, capital, technology, channels, and customers – and yet why is it still so hard to innovate inside corporates? Why are startups beating them at their own game?

Here’s what I learnt from all my conversations with the warriors inside corporates trying to swim against the current: 

  1. No Mothership Governance: Innovators overwhelmingly noted a lack of governance from the corporate mothership (or parent company) on how to do venture building and how to be committed to it.
  2. Lack of Framework: Growth teams were doing what they wanted without any structure or framework and they weren’t learning from each other. Standardizing a repeatable and scalable process for venture building was difficult to lock down.
  3. Lack of Budget and Limited Growth Teams: Without significant budgets dedicated to venturing in Europe, corporations were limited in how much they could accomplish, both inside the company and externally. 
  4. Resistance to Killing Zombies: Ventures that were failing, were systematically kept alive. Mostly because there was no standard approach on what to keep and what to kill, based on consistent criteria and backed up by evidence. One corporate innovator mentioned that someone on their leadership team sponsored the zombie venture – so if they killed it, they’d risk their reputation within the company. 
  5. Mothership Antibodies: Corporate motherships overwhelmingly had a low tolerance for risk, making it hard to commit to ventures that were in development. There needs to be structure around deciding to stop or continue these ventures.
  6. Lack of Skills and Expertise: Participants mentioned being part of a newly formed growth team – I heard someone mention they’d been doing this for less than six months. That left a skills and experience gap. 
  7. Failure to Accelerate: Corporates had ideated and incubated ventures, yet they struggled with launching the new product or service – not to mention scaling it. They didn’t know where to go from there – and nobody in the growth team knew how to guide the nascent venture idea forward. 
  8. How to Leverage Internal Ideas: There was a clear lack of organization around how to funnel internal ideas into ventures in a way that makes the best use of internal talent (and ideas). 

All corporate innovators have the goal of building a perpetual growth engine in the form of a venture factory. They want to launch multiple ventures, drive growth, retain talented employees, and disrupt themselves before they are disrupted. But how can this portfolio of new ventures be created, with few corporates meeting the preconditions for success? Without the skills and experience? Without a repeatable and scalable method? Without seizing the mothership advantage to outrun competitors and startups?

I’d love to hear if any of these eight pains ring true to you. Mach49 can help you solve them. Get in touch with us.