Posted by & filed under Banking, Collaboration, Corporations, Fintech, Insurance, Startups.

We talk with a lot of interesting people every day (definitely one of the best perks of the job!). We learn every day from these smart people and their experiences and thought why not share all that with you. Cue our new monthly webinar series.

The first six episodes focus on collaboration and specifically piloting. In each episode we have two guests from startups and one from banks, insurance companies or other corporations, who talk about the different parts of the collaboration journey from the first contact to life after the pilot.

While we are waiting for the next episode (live on the 5th of September), I thought I would gather together some of the learnings from the series. I have to emphasize the word ’some’ as it is impossible to fit everything into one post, and I highly recommend checking out the series here for all of the learnings.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Corporations, Human Resources.

Most corporate accelerators fail in giving tangible results. Many corporations don’t even have a clear vision of what they’re trying to do with it! Some succeed in bringing only a few innovations to the market. Rarely the ones that can create real change. And most fail at changing the corporation in any meaningful way at all. This is entirely predictable. If that’s you, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Innovation is messy: you don’t know much at the beginning of the process, of what you’re going to get. Unfortunately, many people feel like they can’t prepare because of this. When it comes to corporate transformation, it’s exactly the opposite. Both sides (the startups and the corporation) must do their homework. Before and after the accelerator.

In fact, the accelerator should be no different than normal business Read more »

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Banking, Corporations, Featured, General, innovating.

Corporations benefit in many ways from having an accelerator. In our whitepaper, we already analyzed those benefits in depth. But one question that is sometimes tricky for people is: how much?

This is especially relevant when preparing a business case. Should you or should you not do an accelerator? What are the benefits, the costs, what do the numbers say? And sometimes you have to discuss with others in the corporation, why it’s a good idea to engage with startups. For those moments, it’s good to have some figures with you. 

That’s why we decided to build an economic model of the benefits; the Nestholma Business Case Builder. And we’re sharing Read more »

Posted by & filed under Corporations, Innovation, Organizational learning.

Hurricane Ophelia decided to pay a visit to Ireland at the same time that we were visiting Dublin for an event about collaborating to make the best out of PSD2. And one can learn a lot from seeing how people react to a hurricane. In a way, dealing with a hurricane can be like dealing with changing markets. Change is like the wind, and when it’s fast and sudden, it’s a hurricane. The hurricane of disruption. Tweet this.

Many industries are going through their own “disruption Ophelia” at the moment. Fintech is going through a regulation hurricane. Knowledge-based industries, in general, are bracing for the AI hurricane. All industries deal with the hurricane of digitalization, one way or another.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Corporations, General, innovating, Investing, Organizational learning, Product development, Startups.

 

Corporate venture capital has been an excellent way for many companies to increase shareholder value. Research shows 30% better increase of share value with companies with strong Corporate Venture capital activities.  And if you look for example at the biggest Chinese giants, most of that valuation increase is because of good investments, not operative business.

But it’s usually done only with later-stage companies.
Read more »

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Corporations, Human Resources, innovating, Innovation, Marketing, Product development.

How to renew corporations with startups

A whitepaper by Nestholma

Corporations need to renew themselves, and one of the best ways to do that is by working with startups. But that’s easier said than done. Corporations need to understand what they want to get out of the collaboration. They need to understand what they’re getting into. And they need to understand what their options are.

At Nestholma we discuss with many people from corporations. And very often we end up in the same discussions. Those are great conversations: we get to understand the concerns that people have. We also get to see what gaps they have, when it comes to working with startups.

That’s why we decided to put together this whitepaper. In it

  • I dive into what makes working with startups worthwhile for corporations.
  • Take a look beyond the flashy surface: corporations can benefit in branding, innovation and learning.
  • I also explore different ways that corporations engage with startups.
  • I finally dwell into what makes some accelerators more successful, for a particular corporation.

The whitepaper is packed with insights. You can skim through it quickly, and discover new angles for your collaborations. Or you can peruse it. In that case, prepare for a lot of content. You’ll understand what makes some collaborations successful. You’ll also understand why others end up a mere stunt.

Download the Nestholma whitepaper

Corporations need to renew themselves. One of the best ways to do it is by working with startups. This white paper explores the benefits of branding, innovation and learning. It also reviews alternatives and best practices on collaboration.

Click here to download the whitepaper.

This text is born of many discussion. Many of them within Nestholma, and many with our customers and potential customers. But publishing a whitepaper is not the end of a discussion, but the beginning of many others. I would love to hear from you! Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] and let’s talk!

 

Related post: 4 ways working with startups can make your organization more agile and innovative

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Banking, Corporations, Fintech, Innovation, Startups.

Collaboration. Collaboration. And collaboration. Be it global warming, science, the economy, collaboration is the word that keeps popping up more and more, especially during the past couple of years. With globalization, we have become so connected that collaboration is pretty much part of our DNA. And the need for collaboration is only increasing. And so are the possibilities.

Companies don’t just see other companies as competitors or suppliers/customers anymore. They are sizing them up to see if they should work together instead of trying to beat each other. That’s even more so in fintech.

Over the past couple of years, the narrative in fintech has changed from fierce competition and trying to one-up everyone else to collaboration. It’s no longer the established players, banks, trying to smother the new entrants, startups, or the startups trying to throw the old masters out the game. Now it’s about the two working together to create something neither could do alone.

Why corporations should work with startups

For corporations, working with startups can give them access to whole new kind of innovation power. While corporations have resources, a huge amount of industry knowledge and plenty of smart people working for them, they are rarely called innovation powerhouses – words often associated with startups.

There are many reasons why corporations can’t be as agile and innovative as startups are. While corporations can learn from startups (and they should!), getting new innovations from startups makes a lot of sense. That way they can get innovations from many startups. And they can get it much faster than by doing it by themselves. Quantity and quality without using much of their own resources.

Collaborating makes sense especially in areas that the corporation doesn’t have knowledge of in-house, for example in AI. Instead of spending resources of acquiring the needed knowledge and then starting to think what could be done with it, they can access the best AI innovations straight from startups.

By working with startups corporation are also bound to learn from them. They will get exposed to the ways startups work, and why they can be so agile and innovative. And those learnings can lead to organization wide changes.

Also, when corporations work with startups it is inevitable that some of the ’startup coolness’ will rub on on them. That’s good for customers, attracting new talents and getting new innovative startups to approach the corporation. It’s a win, win, and win!

 

Collaborating can be beneficial for both startups and corporations

 

Why startups should work with corporations

One of the big differences between startups and corporations is that corporations have a known name, brand value, behind them. They are a known and trusted player in the market while startups are nobodies. No one knows what they do, what they can do, or even if the whole thing is just a scam. Especially in banking gaining the customers’ trust is a very important but difficult issue. After working with a big name in their industry, like a known bank in fintech, startups are immediately on a different level. If that well-trusted corporation trusts them, also the customers think they must be legit and be able to execute what they promise.

Fintech startups also face the problem that they need data, lots of it to be able to make their solution work in real life. And they need users, people to test their solution. And the more the merrier. In such trust-sensitive industry as banking, getting those is far from easy, impossible even.

For lots of startups working in just one market is a luxury they can’t afford. Unless they are in a very market-specific business or work in a huge market like China or the US, aiming to be global is a must. But going global isn’t always (if ever!) so easy. In a new market, everything is different. The competitive environment, laws and regulations, even the customers’ needs among many many other things. There might be amazingly potential new markets, but if there is no entry point, they are often just passed to the ’no’-pile. But with a local partner, preferably with one that already has a great presence in the market, they can get just the knowledge and access to the market they need.

 

Collaboration between startups and banks can make many impossible things possible.

 

One great example of such a partner for startups is YES BANK, one of our partners in the Global Fintech Accelerator.

India & YES BANK

For fintech startups right now India is a very interesting market. And by interesting, I mean hot; hotter than hot even! In India there is a huge need for new fintech solutions. And even more importantly: people are eager to use them. In fact, the fintech adoption rate is on top of the world with 52%, only second to China and growing. The environment in India for fintech startups is also very supportive: investments are booming and the government is being very proactive in supporting fintechs. In short, India is THE place to be for fintechs. But accessing that massive potential is another thing. Foreign startups need an entry point, a partner to help them gain access to the market, the right knowledge and the tools needed. One good example of such is the YES Fintech accelerator by our Global Fintech Accelerator partner YES BANK.

YES BANK is the fifth biggest private sector bank in India – you can say they know the Indian market. And in the YES BANK accelerator startups get access to that knowledge. Startups also get access to their 200+ APIs and their 2 million + retail and 15 000+ corporate customers – just what it is needed to test and validate the startups’ solution.

In their first cohort as well, YES Fintech had two international startups – soCash (Singapore) and Paykey (Israel). The overall cohort ended up with an offtake of 90% wherein 9 out of 10 solutions were taken up by YES BANK.

The accelerator program also provides access to the top 20 global fintech markets, offer mentoring and coaching and much more. Just the knowledge and tools needed to conquer the Indian fintech market and in general, get the startups on a whole new level. You can read more about the accelerator here.

The real winners = customers

While corporations and startups will benefit greatly from collaboration, the real winners will be the customers. No matter what happens and who ’wins’ or ’loses’, customers will get more options and better solutions. And as there are plenty of options, in fact, more and more of them as the world is moving increasingly towards supporting competition (e.g. PSD2 in Europe), the customers can just pick and choose. The winners of the future will be the providers who answer the needs of the customers the best. Needless to say, it has never been a better time to be a banking customer!

 

Read more about YES FINTECH accelerator  and more about our Global Fintech Accelerator.

 

Posted by & filed under Corporations, Organizational learning, Startups.

Aiming to create an organization that is ready for constant change and learning? Or perhaps you are looking for ways to motivate your employees to think more creatively. Either way, startup collaboration is the best tool for creating an innovative corporate culture.

Why? Well, startups are famous for their agility and ability to execute ideas at a fast pace. These are the factors that big corporations often lack. By collaborating with startups and involving employees in the process, companies can start becoming more like startups; agile, innovative and great at executing those innovations.

But how exactly does collaborating with startups enhance cultural change and learning?

 

To transform your organization, you need to transform your employees first. Afterall, they are your organization. And they are also the ones executing the ideas and innovations. It does not matter how great your products and ideas are, only execution matters. And execution is nothing without the effort of your employees. Your employees are the key to becoming more agile and innovative. And for employees to learn and change, the key is to get them doing.

To actually get your employees to learn from the startup’s you should get your employees involved in the collaboration as much as possible. This way they learn by doing. And the more employees you involve the greater the learnings and changes will be. A couple of employees can’t make big changes in your organization. But the more the entire corporation is involved, the greater are the learnings and changes achieved.

Organizations are made of people. And thus also organizational changes start from the employees.

 

In this post, I will present the four cultural benefits that partnering with startups can bring with the example case of Ann.

 

So, let’s begin with Ann

Ann is an employee at a big global corporation. For five years she has been part of the human resource department. She really enjoys working for her company. Working at a global player gives you the opportunity to work in game-changing projects, which really excites her. At the same time, those projects take time to happen: new ideas need the approval of many people, and changes require many meetings. Ideas are sometimes also called off when other, more urgent tasks appear.

Ann’s company is getting more involved with startups, and she has been asked to mentor a startup. One of her tasks now is to make sure the corporation and the startup partner, so that her department becomes more efficient. She had been involved with startups a bit before when her company organized a hackathon, but she never saw a long-term difference after that.

Next, you will find what Ann experienced after working with the startup. This also includes the four benefits startup collaboration has on the company culture.

 

1.Openness to renewal

The first meeting with the startup was already an eye-opener. The startups came with a proposal already in mind, but after a quick discussion, it was clear that it would not work inside Ann’s corporation. Ann thought that this was the end of the partnership. To her surprise, one of the entrepreneurs came up with a brilliant idea. After a brief discussion, they decided that Ann would discuss with some colleagues and get back to the entrepreneurs. They proposed to meet the next week.

Ann was a bit skeptical of whether she would be able to get answers by next week. Ann was aware how slowly the execution of some ideas took place in the company. But she was even more skeptical that the entrepreneurs could do all the things they promised.

While consulting a few colleagues, Ann discovered that most people were quick to dismiss her and the collaboration. Many people offered to discuss with her only after a few weeks! In contrast, whenever she had a question for the entrepreneurs, she got a response in a matter of minutes, and with a different attitude. Instead of formal structures, startups were open to any sort of idea sharing. If she wanted to make this partnership work, she needed to make sure her colleagues were more responsive and open to change. And for that to happen, she needed to be open to renewal herself.

In order for innovation to happen, employees must be adaptable and open to discussion. Yet, corporations generally have rigid structures. As a result employees revert to default behavior and start rejecting big changes. Nobody sees the incentive to develop ideas if the implementation is restricted by the structure.

To solve this issue, some organizations have organized official channels for startup collaboration. This is also what Ann’s corporation did. Startup collaboration creates the impression of proactivity and openness. It encourages employees to adopt a similar mindset. This further fosters business renewal as well as innovation.

 

2.Navigating uncertainty

Three meetings and countless discussions later, Ann and the entrepreneurs had talked with most of the departments involved. They all understood that, if the collaboration worked, the corporation would benefit greatly. However, several of them had concerns over whether what the startup was proposing would really work.

On the next meeting, she decided to tell the startups what was delaying the collaboration so much. One or the entrepreneurs asked “What if we run a small pilot with some customers, to show how people really use the product? And if they don’t use it the way we expect, we will redesign it so that they do”. They identified all the risks that people had mentioned and designed a pilot that would give the more information about those risks.

Related: How corporations can benefit from working with startups.

Ann could not take the uncertainty out of innovation, but the startup showed her how to deal with it, by talking to customers, testing and learning.

Most people working in corporations tend to focus on tasks with high certainty. But as you might know, innovation is uncertain by definition. Fearing to take risks is the all time enemy of innovation. This is why developing new products is often seen as challenging.

Startups are the opposite of corporations. They are famous for the ability to develop and produce products under uncertainty. Startups favor experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition and iterative design over traditional development. By collaborating with startups corporation employees are encouraged to work in a similar manner. This allows them to become accustomed to working in uncertain environments.

By working together with startups the employees get new ideas to their work.

 

3.Understanding the need for quicker execution

Everything looked good after the meeting with the startups. It looked like her corporation would soon be collaborating with them, and both of them would have happy customers. That probably made the fall worse: once the project started looking real, it seemed like there were more and more decision-makers that had to be involved. In addition, several departments had to give clearance, which required more and more analysis.

When she told the entrepreneurs that the agreement could take a few more months, she could see that they were not happy with it. She didn’t even know if they would last that long, without a source of income.

Ann had also noticed how fast and well startups executed their new ideas. “How would you guys solve this, if this were your company?”, she asked. “Good question! We would probably look for something doable, something that we can get a shot at right now, and leave the rest of the complex stuff for later.”.

That was it! She could use this way of working too! Ann figured out that if she cut out some parts of the pilot, she would not need a clearance from the other departments since it would be an internal project with a relatively low budget. This would also make the bigger project later on much easier. Otherwise, the project might die at the idea stage. While ideas are good, but the execution is the only thing that matters.

As described, entrepreneurs are faster at executing than corporations. Speed is essential for startups. Why? Well, without speed there is inevitable failure. The fast eat the slow. When startups decide on a course of action they don’t wait. They don’t rethink or hesitate. They put the plan into action the moment the plan reaches consensus in a meeting.

In contrast, the strict structures and formal processes of corporations restrict this behavior. Decisions move slowly. Ideas go through a path of managers, board rooms, decision-makers, analysts, researchers, legals, marketing…

Success is no longer about being big or small. It’s about speed, pivoting and rapid scaling. When corporate employees are exposed to the faster pace of startups, they will learn to value the fast speed and further mimic this behavior. They will also be willing to make more agile plans that get results immediately.

 

4. Focus on risk optimization, not only minimization

With her new plan of having an early pilot first, everything seemed set. There was only one step left: the final approval by Sarah, the head of her department. Sarah had seemed confident with the collaboration so far, but now it seemed like she was less comfortable with the situation.

“Is there any problem?”, asked Anna. “Well”, Sarah answered, “I’m just thinking if this is the best for the department. At the end of the day, we’re the ones promoting this project, and if it goes wrong… well, it’s not good”. Anna realized that her department was taking a risk, and investing time in something that might not have any effect in their quarterly targets.

“But it could have a much bigger impact later on”, Anna pointed out. “It’s a controlled risk, and even if it fails, little failures can add up to big success”. Sarah nodded quietly for a few seconds. “You’re right Anna, and you’ve actually spelled out the risks and opportunities very clearly. We should take these opportunities much more often. For the next quarter, let’s make sure we include some metrics related to this project, and even give ourselves some room for innovation”.

Corporations typically focus on performance and KPIs, which encourages employees to become risk-averse. But if radical innovation is on your company agenda, you should give people the possibility of being flexible.

Instead, the focus should be on the acceptance and management of both risks and execution. Successful startups go quickly from failure to failure. They then continuously adapt and iterate what they have learned from customers. Similarly, employees working in startup environments are more willing to work with risks, as opposed to avoiding them.

Risk is an essential part of innovation. Instead of avoiding risk corporations should manage it.

In short:

As shown with the case of Ann, allowing employees to work in the startup environment improves innovation levels and standards. Working with startups makes employees more likely to identify potential improvements.

Working with startups creates a culture of constant change and learning.

Employees learn to become ready for the unknown future. They view the organization through new, different lenses and beyond the plans. They learn to become prepared for the unplanned success.

 

Read more about renewing organizations with the help of startups:

 

Download the Nestholma whitepaper

How corporations can benefit from working with startups. This white paper explores the benefits on branding, innovation and learning. It also reviews alternatives and best practices on collaboration.

Get the whitepaper here.

 

Posted by & filed under Corporations, innovating, Startups.

Go f.... disrupt yourself!

Many startups say they are disrupting something. And they might, we live in one of the most uncertain times in history. But how can corporations know what to expect? How can they know what the big changes in the industry will be?

The bad news: you’re not as good as you think figuring it out on your own.

People love talking about “disruption”. Fintech startups with the banking industry. Autonomous and electric with the automotive industry. Peer-to-peer with real estate. TechCrunch has even named its conferences “Disrupt”. Welcome buzzword, let’s all go disrupt something! And is disruption even a good thing for startups? According to Peter Thiel, not at all. It doesn’t say much about your business if the biggest thing about it is what it displaces. Tweet this

Disruption is what the big players call an innovation that they didn’t see coming. Tweet this

A hammer is not a disruption to a video casette. A streaming service is.

And why would you not see it coming? It turns out it’s more difficult than most people expect. I’ll give you one example. A technology that is getting a lot of buzz lately is Artificial Intelligence. We have a few startups in that field in our portfolio. I’m sure you’ve also heard claims about how it’s going to displace a lot of jobs.

What was your answer to that?

Let me guess… was it close to “poor guys, I’m so lucky it won’t displace my job though”?

I’ve been talking with a lot of people about this topic, and let me break out a sad truth to you: everybody thinks that. Tweet this. Doctors, consultants, teachers, drivers! “Oh, it’s going to get a lot of people out of their jobs. But for sure not in my area. We do different stuff. There’s still a lot of things they don’t understand about what we do.”

And there’re two reasons (at least) for that.

The first and most obvious is that the closer we are to something, the more assumptions we have about it. Tweet this. You have assumptions about how your job “should be”, based on how it is. You have the assumption that everything that you currently do is necessary.

The second one is that what disrupts a market is not an improved version of what you currently have. Tweet this. What will displace your industry is no necessarily a substitute of your current offering. It will be something that makes your current offering irrelevant. But by definition, it will be very different.

 

Sometimes new innovations don't seem like they could replace the old thing because they seem so different.

 

Take the case of the ice factories in the 1920’s. It was one of the biggest industries at the time. On 1927 came the refrigerator. Many people in that industry though “oh, sure, but that’s not the same thing”. Still, most ice factories closed down. The disruption didn’t come from better ice. It came from something else, that made selling ice almost irrelevant. And they didn’t know how to renew themselves.

Let’s bring the example to the present time:

  • Think about the automotive industry. Will the biggest disruption be better or more efficient cars? Probably not. We will move towards something that will make cars less relevant. It might be advances in shared economy, better-shared transportation or communications. It might be all the above.
  • Think about fintech and banks. Will the biggest disruption be a startup that is a better version of your bank? Probably not. It might be a swarm of little startups. An open architecture. A different way to deal with information. It might be all the above.

The good news: working with startups will help you.

A couple of weeks ago the Nestholma coaches took part in Tony Robbin’s seminar Unleash the Power Within. We heard much about human nature and about beliefs. In particular, we heard about how self-limiting some of them can be. To get rid of those beliefs, you need to break existing patterns and create new ones.

If you want to understand what’s coming, you need to do more than knowing the context. You need to be ready for change and renewal. Need to be agile. You need to know how to work with the change. You need to know how to work with startups.

You even need to be part of the change. You need to disrupt your own business. If you don’t, somebody else will. You need to be working on the things that will make you obsolete before somebody else does. Tweet this.

This can be scary. But instead of fearing those changes, you need to embrace them and turn them into actions. The world is going to change anyways. If you renew yourself, you’ll stay on top, and the change will be good for your business. Tweet this. If you use startups only as an innovation band aid, you might see it coming… or not.

 

Working with startups will help the people in your organization in many ways:

  • It will make them think bigger, and raise their standards towards innovation. If working with startups becomes part of their DNA, they will be more likely to think innovatively, expect shifts in the market… and dare be part of those shifts!
  • It will make them think in a sharper way. Tony Robbins says that complexity is the enemy of execution, and any lean startup will agree. In corporations, things can become complex very fast. Even when things are not complex, they are sometimes made complex. Startups are good at cutting through the clutter. They can’t afford to make things too complicated. They have to be sharp and lean.
  • It will make them think like intrapreneur change agents. Change requires champions. Entrepreneurial thinking is a great tool to plan for uncertainty. It’s a great tool to even understand that uncertainty. It’s a tool for making things happen.

In short: be ready to renew your organization by working with startups… or somebody else will! Tweet this

Dr. Daniel Collado-Ruiz, @ErCollao

Do you like the content? Do you disagree? Are you interested in hearing more about other related stuff? Drop us a line in the comments or on Twitter, and let’s chat!

 

Start renewing your business today

Let’s talk how Nestholma can help to renew your entire company and find new businesses with startups and beyond.

I want to hear more

 

You might also be interested in: Why are big corporations so bad at innovating?

 

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Corporations, innovating, Startups.

Renewal of the companies is on the mind of every CEO. Not to learn more but to break the patterns. It´s easy to learn new stuff, but difficult to unlearn. We go back to our habits unless something becomes a habit.

Break the patterns

All Nestholma coaches took part of Tony Robbins 4-day seminar in London. We are here to learn how to become better coaches. Tony Robbins made us experience. He made us repeat. Breaking our patterns and repeating new ones, so it becomes us. And that´s what corporations also need.

Active waiting

I also had a pleasure to listen to professor Liisa Välikangas earlier this week. She talked about “active waiting”. It means that people have to be learning to be ready for the unknown future. When I listened to her I realized that a startup accelerator is an active waiting tool. You don´t learn how to play soccer by analyzing it from the distance. You have to play it. And you have to play it when the game starts. Most of the times organizations don´t understand that the new game has already started. Some key players understand the importance and the urgency to change, but most of the people don´t.

Fast

Nordea`s CDO Ewan Mcleod answered with one word why startups are good for learning purposes: “FAST” and he continues: “we have to be fast”. And that happens only if the patterns of the old behavior has changed. And when people have been “actively waiting” they can act when needed.

 

Happy labor day! Let´s change the patterns of the labor, wait actively and act fast.