Learn the key ideas of the book by Dan Toma , Tendayi Viki , Esther Gons

The Corporate Startup

Creating an innovative ecosystem in a well-established company

In a world that is changing increasingly rapidly, the challenge that many large companies face is to develop new products for new markets, while managing their core business. The principles and practices outlined in this book provide a model for businesses to manage this process. Thanks to a proven methodology that applies the principles of the lean business approach, The Corporate Startup aims to help companies to create an ecosystem that feeds innovation while maintaining a successful core business.

The Corporate Startup
Read in 21 min.
Listen in 26 min.

Many useful tips to:

  • Develop an ecosystem of innovation within established companies.
  • Enable companies to develop new products for new markets, while continuing to manage their core business.
  • Implement startup practices in corporate companies.

The author of the book:

Dan Toma is a leader of the business community in Europe. He has an MBA, has taught university courses and collaborated with Hi-Tech startups around the world. A great supporter of the ecosystem approach to innovation, he has also worked with government bodies in Asia and Europe, helping to develop innovation ecosystems and national innovation strategies.

Tendayi Viki is the founder of Benneli Jacobs, a strategy and innovation consultancy that helps companies develop internal ecosystems to innovate in the same way as startups. He has a PhD in Psychology and an MBA. He has worked as a consultant, speaker and trainer for several companies and co-designed Pearson’s Product Lifecycle, an innovation framework that won the Best Innovation Program 2015 at the Corporate Entrepreneur Awards in New York. He is also a contributor to Forbes Magazine.

Esther Gons is co-founder of NEXT.amsterdam, which assists startups from concept stage the working business model, and has mentored over 100 startups. She developed the entrepreneurship course for the Communication Multimedia and Design program at the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam. She is an international speaker and helped bring the lean startup movement to the Netherlands.


The paradox of innovation for “ambidextrous” corporate companies: excelling in both the search for something new and carrying out their consolidated business

In a world that is rapidly changing, only companies that are able to respond to change can survive and thrive. The challenge that established companies face is how to develop new products for new markets, while maintaining the management of their core business. Innovation can no longer be seen as something secondary. Yet, in most large, successful companies, the focus is on high-income products - the so-called high-profit “cash cow products”. If a company is making large profits from these products, it may risk finding itself blind to the need for innovation imposed by technological, social and cultural changes. In addition, there is further pressure on executives for publicly traded companies to meet the market’s short-term financial expectations.

However, it is too simplistic to advise established companies to behave as if they were startups. Big companies are not startups and neither should they try to be. On the other hand, the aspiration of every startup is to become a successful company! For a corporate company, the expectation of acting like a startup is not realistic, for one simple reason: the daily work of an established company involves running an already successful and profitable business, while startups can generally focus on an innovative idea without having the added burden of keeping the older company going. So the real challenge for a large company today is how to commit to maintaining profitability, while at the same time dedicating enough energy to exploration and innovation to ensure future profitability. Entrepreneur Steve Blank distinguished research versus execution as the key difference between startups and large corporations. A startup is a temporary organisation whose goal is to seek a sustainable and profitable business model, while an established company primarily executes an established business model that meets the identified needs of specific market segments. So how can we get out of this stalemate? Large companies should stop thinking and acting as if they were single monolithic organisations with only one business model, and should instead adopt an ecosystem approach to their operations. Every modern company must be a balanced mix of established “cash cow” products and new products in the search for profitable business models. This ability to seek and pursue innovation during the execution of its consolidated business model is the hallmark of an "ambidextrous" company, i.e. excelling in both research and execution. This is the paradox of innovation.


The key ideas of "The Corporate Startup"

The paradox of innovation for “ambidextrous” corporate companies: excelling in both the search for something new and carrying out their consolidated business
The ecosystem of innovation: different product, services and business models that overlap with one another and offer value to the customer that is sustainable and profitable
Innovation thesis: a clear definition of the vision of the company’s future and the strategic objectives of innovation
Manage innovation in a balanced and strategic way by building an innovation portfolio
Moving from ideation to the scalability of ideas through the innovation framework
Accounting for innovation: the indicators and metrics to be considered to monitor the progress of innovation activities in the company
The first step towards innovation practice: creating and selecting new ideas
Testing ideas and verifying their feasibility on the market: the importance of experimenting with “earlyvangelists”
Scaling ideas: the three growth engines to enter the mass market and exploit a successful business model
Renewing ideas: how to learn to navigate from one competitive advantage to another
Take-home message

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