On Tuesday, 9 November and Thursday, 10 November 2021, GELLIFY’s B2B Community hosted its fifth annual “Corporate Entrepreneurship” event. This online conference featured over 70 international speakers with extensive experience in corporate venture capital, intrapreneurship,and venture building.
The event had more than 900 subscribers, including decision-makers from CVC wings, C-level executives, and innovation managers from more than 50 countries.
The 5 speed-dating sessions, held across the two days, hosted over 200 networking participants, who were able to exchange virtual business cards and can continue developing their relationships in the coming months.
During the event’s 21 sessions, speakers from various industries and academia discussed how consolidated companies and organizations can leverage venturing methodologies, Corporate Venture Capital (CVC), intrapreneurship, cross-innovation and innovative technology startups to grow their businesses and adapt to the challenges of the new post-pandemic economy.
GELLIFY partners, including the law firm Gianni & Origoni and tax consultancy firm Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati, provided expertise on IP and M&A processes that can help companies protect against disruption.
The 70 speakers, together with the virtual audience of decision-makers, had the chance to share new trends and venturing methodologies that connect established companies with innovative technology startups. A common thought that emerged from the various sessions during the first day was about WHY more and more companies are engaging in corporate venturing. They posited that although established and traditional companies first adopt this approach for financial reasons, they’re now orientating themselves towards strategic venturing, in order to grow alongside the tech startups. This is also a direction that SMEs are heading towards in Italy and Spain.
Venturing with startups, new venture building, and intrapreneurship, is, in fact, one of the best ways to carry out open innovation. These activities allow a typical, slow-moving corporate “dinosaur” to access the agility and speed of a startup. Experts at the event pointed out that this is why VCs and Private Equity are now having to compete with the capabilities and investment power of corporate venturing units.
A recent article in Sifted – the new-media site from Financial Times for Europe’s innovators and entrepreneurs – supports this point with its data, which show that strategic venturing investments can yield average returns of 3x – and are well above most VCs’ performance.
These points show a clear motivation and explanation of WHY to embark on venturing as a corporate.
Regarding the HOW, the smartest companies at Corporate Entrepreneurship are making it happen from the inside out, working on having the type of corporate culture that is open to and brings out ideas from its own workforce. They are investing in multiple ways, understanding carefully which startups are best to acquire, which to build on their own, and which to invest in through a CVC unit.
It all comes down to cultural and strategic fit.
Cultural fit is not only inclusive of the startup or project being launched, but the body of talent within an organization.
Many sessions discussed how cultural change and retaining talent in the relaunch are a key part of a successful venturing plan.
With the “Great Resignation”, a phenomenon in which pandemic remote-workers have been turning to freelancing and building their own business, and employers have become one option among many for ambitious professionals, it is essential to engage and empower employees who want to be stimulated and have their ideas heard. Intrapreneurship and venturing are the way to achieve a workplace that can withstand Gen X and Z’s new mentalities.
However, not all startups can do well when brought directly into a company. Several decision makers speaking guests assumed that sometimes the best integration between a company and its venture is not to integrate, only giving it fuel (in the form of infrastructure and financing) and leaving them “alone” to innovate alongside the mother company until its able to truly integrate the solutions. One speaker likened it to having a speedboat, saying that one wouldn’t place the speedboat on a tanker ship in order to know how to get to an island faster. The speedboat needs to be allowed in the water, autonomously, to reach the land and come back to tell the tanker ship how to arrive.
Practically speaking, this implies that companies must face the legacy of the pandemic economy by focusing more on competencies, cutting redundancy, and improving efficiency.
As professors on the panel “How to Thrive in the New Normal: Academic Perspectives” (coordinated by the Founder and Managing Partner of GELLIFY Michele Giordani) pointed out, business leaders also must have a clear vision on the level of interdependency with the innovation ecosystem and prepare to manage extraordinary,currently unknown problems.
They need to know which new new battles to prepare for, which young companies will disrupt incumbent dinosaurs, and create “antibodies” by employing disruptive resources.
The common refrain was that the success of innovation units in the new economy hinges upon their ability to pursue corporate entrepreneurship models including, venture builders, CVC, intrapreneurship, and cross-innovation, which are not only related to creating value for the corporate but also future assets.
We are facing a period of great resignation, rethinking, and resetting of relationships and new, disruptive businesses. As speakers said with Lucia Chierchia, Managing Partner at GELLIFY, the time to build Corporate Entrepreneurship into company structures and prevent disruption was yesterday. But it is not too late to catch up. To learn more about the event and the ongoing initiatives and to download our latest research “The 4W’s of Corporate Venturing” visit: