7 min read

Corporate venture building: create new value for your company by using existing assets

As businesses face continuous disruption and economic challenges, they're seeking new ways to create lasting value. A category that has gained a lot of popularity in the field of corporate growth and brand valuation in recent times is corporate venture building. It offers several advantages over traditional venture capital, corporate venture capital, or mergers and acquisitions. And it is extremely effective. Here we will explore the concept of corporate venture building, compare it to alternative methods of value creation, and discuss why more companies are choosing this approach.

Words by Michal Schindler, Photos by Creative Dock archive

Overview of the article content:

  • Even world leaders can be just a few years away from oblivion
  • Startups, ventures and other business models
  • Why is the era of corporate venture building inevitable?
  • What's the difference between consulting and venture building?
  • Characteristics, models and process of corporate venture building
  • What exactly is the role of a corporate venture builder
  • Particular benefits of corporate venture building
  • Venture building best practices & challenges

Even world leaders can be just a few years away from oblivion

Do you believe that the innovations, strategic foresight and new trends in company building are being overdone? Do you say to yourself that a big enough company simply has to plan wisely and that efforts to innovate – or innovate unnecessarily – eat up time and resources? The book Fightback, How to Win in the digital economy with Platforms, Ventures and Entrepreneurs gives an excellent example of where such thinking leads: "In 2007, Nokia owned more than 70% of the mobile phone market. Just five years later, the company was at zero. Absolute zero. So were Nokia idiots? No. You are the market leader and you cannot see that you will be dead in five years. If Nokia couldn't see it, why do we think anyone else will be able to?" So, are you smarter than Nokia's bosses?

TIP: Take a look at an example of Creative Dock's corporate venture building for the Swedish multinational energy company Vattenfall. Within a few years, this new venture Solytic has become a global leader in optimising photovoltaic power plants. 

Startups, ventures and other business models

It's not practical to categorise the eras of innovation since all human activities are interconnected. However, we can still identify the essential characteristics of prevailing trends to explain the significance of corporate venture building better. Above all, business innovation has always been with us. The invention of the wheel may not have been monetised to any great extent at the time, but it has undoubtedly changed people's lives. Also, startups didn't just start in Silicon Valley. But let's skip straight to the present. Where did corporate venture building come from, and why is it becoming more and more important? 

“Corporate venture building involves using the existing resources of an existing company to build a new business within or outside the organisation. Classically, these ventures are built from scratch as a completely separate company.”

Why is the era of corporate venture building inevitable?

The last decade or so has heralded a new era - after the time of industrial or tech giants and the era of smart startups comes an era when giants are unwieldy and startups struggle to make any decent market breakthrough. The giants struggle to work with innovative ideas and methods successfully; startups have little chance of breaking into a fiercely competitive market that the previous decades have saturated with thousands upon thousands of innovators, but especially intermediaries and resellers.

Using existing assets to build new businesses

The flexibility and disruptive strategy of startups take advantage of the size and stability of corporations, their long-fought market share, and, most importantly, their existing assets, which often hide enormous potential for new development. It's an excellent opportunity for both growth and company value increase to create new ventures on top of the corporations' existing assets. Ideally, using so-called unfair advantages – unique strengths that have hardly or no competition at all and therefore, new ventures built on them enter the market in the position of a conqueror with no one to oppose them. These companies disrupt the market using unique innovative business strategies – corporate venture building. 

In a dynamic environment, the ability to adapt is to grow

What does the enlightening book we mentioned above say about this? “The incumbent corporations are well aware that something significant is happening - they could hardly fail to notice the spectacular, unstoppable growth of today's Amazons, Alibabas and Apples - but they often struggle to find ways to tap into the potential of this changing world or to adapt to the new environment.”

“Corporate venture building established itself as the ideal way forward. Giants and innovators can leverage the best of both fields together.”

Why do even traditional consulting firms explore venture building?

Innovative ideas that are not brought to the market are useless

Let's be honest. It is easy to develop innovative ideas that do not have to prove themselves in the market and in actual competition. The experience of the startup warns that the survival rate is shallow, and that there are no limits to the imagination, only in the presentation. The situation on the market is then different. The more an innovative team can use existing client assets, the more it can ensure that a disruptive idea survives a clash with the actual market. The higher its value for the client's company, thanks to lower expenses. 

Size matters. But how do people see it? Small is sometimes better

Small market disruptors are now more trusted by customers than established corporations, which public opinion tends to perceive as "corrupt" mastodons from prehistoric times. This is confirmed by the research mentioned in Fightback, How to Win in the digital economy with Platforms, Ventures and Entrepreneurs: “Customers are much more willing to give newcomers a try, especially if their services revolve around attractive and imaginative apps and experiences. And investors are more than keen to give their backing to potential disrupters with a good, scalable idea, a new business model and a smart tech-driven solution.” 

Execution is king

Founder and executive chairman of Creative Dock, Martin Pejsa, explains a small business's purpose to launch on the market even more succinctly. "Execution is king," he says. A decade ago, when Creative Dock was a small European startup, Pejsa used to say there was a fundamental difference between innovation in PowerPoint and the actual market. Time proved him right, and today that difference is clear to all as a simple fact. And his firm is the largest independent corporate venture builder in Europe and the MENA region. 

“Taking an idea all the way to an existing product or service on the market is the crucial thing that differentiates the various incubators, accelerators, or consulting firms from venture builders.”

What is exactly corporate venture building again?

The goal of building corporate ventures is to leverage the resources, expertise and brand of the parent company to create new businesses that can capture new markets, drive revenue growth and create a competitive advantage. Unlike traditional corporate venture capital, where investors provide funding to external start-ups in exchange for equity, corporate venture building focuses on building/creating and executing ventures rather than just investing in them.

TIP: Take inspiration from another example of corporate venture building – our venture for the SME segment created for the client Raiffeisen Bank International. The Fairo launch in Ukraine was pretty quick, as well as scaling the service to market in Romania. The original plan envisioned more than a dozen countries in Europe, but then the war interfered... 

What's the process of corporate venture building? 

Of course, creating a new product, service or business entity is not easy, and corporate venture building has its own rules. The process typically involves several stages (not necessarily in this order, particularly in the beginning): 

  • Audit of existing company assets
  • Ideation and analysis of their possible new potential
  • Identifying a unique business opportunity
  • Conducting market research and analysis
  • Developing a business plan
  • Securing funding, resources, allocations and talents
  • Venture launch, management, operating and scaling.

Once the new venture is established, it may be managed and operated as a separate entity with its own leadership team, culture and governance structure.

What is a corporate venture builder?

A corporate venture builder, such as Creative Dock, is an organisation that specialises in helping other companies create and launch new ventures or startups. Essentially, a corporate venture builder acts as a partner or facilitator, working alongside a corporate client to identify new business opportunities and develop new ventures that are aligned with the client's strategic goals.

Why the role of an experienced venture builder is important

Corporate venture builders provide access to expertise, networks and resources that may not be available internally to the client. They may have their own team of experts in areas such as entrepreneurship, product development, marketing, finance and legal, who work collaboratively with the client's internal teams to bring new ventures to market. In short:

“Corporate venture builders help companies to streamline the process and provide valuable support and resources that can increase the chances of success.”

Benefits of corporate venture building

Let's not repeat ourselves. The process of corporate venture building has huge benefits, especially for large and logically more cumbersome companies in terms of innovation, not only in the possibility to innovate, but above all to make more out of the company's existing assets. Often, it is enough to reflect on their untapped potential. Let's just summarise the ones which are not prominent (such as portfolio expansion, new jobs or new customer groups):  

Increased innovation

By launching new ventures, companies can tap into new ideas and perspectives that may not be available internally. Corporate venture building allows them to explore new technologies, business models and markets, and can help them stay ahead of the curve in rapidly changing industries.

Diversified revenue streams

Creating new ventures allows companies to diversify their revenue streams and reduce their reliance on a single product or business line. This can help mitigate risk and increase long-term stability and growth. According to Creative Dock’s view, this is actually the main reason to start venture building. Of course, it's great to develop an innovative service, to simplify people's lives. Still, for a big company, it is essential that it expands its portfolio and, above all, that it exceptionally profitably capitalises on the existing potential it uncovers through venture building. 

TIP: our project for the global company Veolia brought several benefits of venture building. Domy sobe offers photovoltaics specifically for residential buildings, thus helping Veolia expand its portfolio with solar energy.


Strategic Partnerships

A corporate venture builder is not just another supplier; it is a vital strategic partner, and it is common that the successful launch of a venture leads to continued collaboration. Finding the right partner can determine the future of a company. Companies can forge strategic partnerships with startups and other innovative companies through corporate venture building. These partnerships can help companies access new markets, technologies and business models, and provide valuable collaboration and growth opportunities.

"Remember Nokia? The world's largest phone manufacturer? The unshakable hegemon? They had enormous potential in electronics and communications. If they had found a new way to use them, they could still dominate the market. Just not with the phones."

Improved agility

Corporate venture building can help companies become more agile and responsive to changes in the marketplace. By creating new ventures, companies can experiment with new products and services, test new business models and pivot quickly as needed.

Are there any venture-building best practices?

Venture building is a highly variable field, very much dependent on the best practices of a particular venture builder, but of course, it is possible to define basic rules, the adherence to which increases the likelihood of positive results. Overall, by following these best practices and leveraging the right expertise, resources and partnerships, companies can successfully launch and manage new ventures that drive long-term growth and competitiveness.

  • Align with strategic goals – Corporate venture building should be aligned with the broader strategic objectives of the parent company. This will help ensure that the new ventures focus on creating value and driving growth in strategically important areas to the company.
  • Develop a clear value proposition – Each new venture should have a clear value proposition that differentiates it from competitors and creates value for customers. This will help ensure that the new venture has a viable business model and a clear path to revenue and profitability.
  • Build a strong team – Building a solid group of talented and experienced entrepreneurs, innovators and other key personnel is critical to the success of corporate venture building. Companies should recruit individuals with the right mix of skills, experience and passion for innovation.
  • Provide sufficient resources – Corporate venture building requires significant resources, including funding, expertise and time. Companies should be prepared to invest these resources over the long term to ensure the success of their new ventures.
  • Measure success – Companies should establish clear metrics and performance indicators to measure the success of their new ventures. This will help ensure that the ventures meet their strategic goals and create value for the parent company and its customers.

Challenges of venture building

Of course, corporate venture building also has its challenges. It is a complicated area requiring extraordinary expertise. Failure is a natural part of the innovation process, and companies should be prepared to embrace it as a learning opportunity. By experimenting, testing and iterating, companies can refine their ideas and strategies and increase their chances of long-term success. The most important thing is to find a reliable partner in this complex category. The quality of the corporate venture builder you work with can make or break the success of your new ventures.

Find more specific examples of corporate venture building on the Creative Dock website. To enhance your own business, contact us directly at business@creativedock.com. Depending on your industry, you'll hear from an expert in your specific industry vertical. 

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This should be taken for granted: “Sustainability is no longer a choice — it’s survival.” And far from regarding sustainability as a drain on resources globally recognized companies such as Booking.com, Uber, and Starbucks, have all seen exponential growth through putting sustainability models at the core of their business. And in so doing altering the landscape of their particular industry.

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Innovation — it's more than just a buzzword

“If creativity is about inventing new things, then innovation is about making them real,” said the American economist, Theodore Levitt. Is that right and does Creative Dock's statement Creation by Doing correspond to reality? We sat down with Linda Armbruster, Director of Innovation at Creative Dock to get her perspective on innovation and impact.

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Corporate venture building is out to save the world. No, really

Combine the vast resources of a corporate and the speedy and disruptive spirit of a startup and what do you get? Powerful, innovative solutions at scale to solve our most pressing problems. It’s really that simple, and it’s what corporate venture builder Creative Dock has set out to do.

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Can trading your idea on the market show its future success? You bet.

“Only time will tell. We will see. Let’s hope.” Those are the words running through many a managers' head when deciding what innovations their company will invest in. But imagine having a tool that helps you choose which of your services are worth investing in, or which of your innovations are less likely to gain traction. Now imagine that such a thing exists. It’s called Ideapoly® and it is built and run by the European company IdeaSense, now part of Creative Dock Group.

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5 key elements that drive innovation and growth in a business

Since the pandemic, we have observed a steady recovery and steep rise in corporate venture building, especially innovative ideas that are constantly responding to changes in technology, and filling in the market gaps. However, as the reality of growing a business is not a bed of roses, not all companies are successful in executing their plans. In this 3 min read, we explore the core factors that could make or break a company.

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Name entity recognition in the insurance industry: a case study

Companies from a wide variety of domains like insurance, real estate, or medical institutions are concerned with the complexity of retrieving specific information from documents. This has become a major problem in recent years with the digitalization of documents and the enormous amount of data exchanged between businesses.

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Size does matter. A success story of growth. Kick-started through acquisitions

Organic growth is great. But it’s time-consuming. And if you want to expand, you can’t invest years just to establish your business in each new market. “We needed to accelerate our growth and impact, to increase our expertise and service portfolio. Rapidly. Such a thing is only possible by well-selected acquisitions,” says Martin Pejsa, Creative Dock’s CEO. And it was actually these successful acquisitions that turned his European corporate venture builder into the largest independent player in its category — rivaling the venture-building activities of the “Big Four”.

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Navigating the multi-crisis environment and where artificial intelligence fits in

“Societies and businesses around the globe are facing unprecedented challenges and the threat of prolonged difficulties — be they related to war, climate, energy, inflation, etc. But despite these gloomy perspectives, Davos turned into cautious optimism among executives leaders, as the global economic outlook for the year ahead looked better than feared. Large corporations can play a major role in overcoming these hurdles,” Martin Pejsa, founder and executive chairman of corporate venture builder Creative Dock, said at the event hosted by Creative Dock and Roland Berger at the margins of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023.

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Why is the MENA region a leader in digitalisation? Thanks to smartphones

When you say you’re building fintech in the Middle East, Westerners usually think of the strict Sharia banking rules and think it must be terribly complicated. But when you build ventures for banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), you’re in for exactly the opposite type of culture shock. E-Government there has made such progress during Covid-19 that we can be envious. Even financial applications under the tightest security are simpler, more user-friendly, and faster.

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