I have always been focused on creating new products, new services and new businesses. Early on in my career I followed nicely designed development paths to create new products: in large corporate organizations you follow the process for core product development. However, as soon as you think about creating products or services adjacent to the core, the frameworks don't work anymore: because you need talent / skills that are not available, you want to validate with customers who are not the company's regular clients, you want to try a new business model that is unheard of, etc.
That's why we built a venture organization within the big corporate to 'fake' startup behavior, to bend some organizational rules, to move faster, to be leaner. But oftentimes it felt like we were gorillas in the zoo: a special cage where we could do a lot of stuff, to the envy of others, and move faster; but it was also a place where nobody would let you out, unless you thoroughly changed ... to adapt more to the core company. We nevertheless were able to launch several interesting new products and businesses, and some even grew into full fledged business units.
Fast forward a company building organization built outside the big corporate with even more freedom to operate for the budding startups: literary being more outside the building with prospective clients, validating concepts with fast iterations, moving faster in recruiting, legal, etc. The biggest challenge however focused around building and entertaining the relationship with the mother company, and in particular with the receiving business unit to make a transition of the new business into the corporate as smooth as possible. But when we got that right, it worked fantastically.
Lately I stepped even further away from the corporates: I launched an accelerator totally independent from one corporation. Because we want to help multiple corporations. Corporations identify problem statements where they need support, ideas, solutions. We then find startups that work on solutions solving these problems. The identified startups are in various degrees of development (idea on napkin, prototype, customer pilot), funding (angel, pre-seed or seed), or team (founder, co-founders, team).
Regardless, in our accelerator we focus on helping and mentoring these early-stage companies in their starting up and/or acceleration phase: customer discovery and development; prototyping or designing a product for manufacturability; business modeling, unit economics and go-to-market. The main advantage is that these early-stage companies are independent, moving fast, and focusing on solutions that are top of mind of clients and hence of corporations. Next to that immediate embryonic link to corporates, our accelerator operates within a community of startups with like-minded founders and entrepreneurs, but also with experienced mentors and investors.
I have been blessed to work in areas that make a difference, not just for me but also for the organizations I work with, the industry and society broadly speaking. The ventures and startups I guided and mentored are in the areas of broadband communication, sustainability and energy efficiency, automotive and mobility, smart manufacturing, and lately in climate and energy tech. I worked with founders and entrepreneurs, with investors, with corporate officers, and with broader startup communities.