HelloMasters Podcast Episode 008: Gerben Klop – Former CEO @ Tessa (Unilever), Now Founder and Managing Partner THEBLUEGARAGE

Episode 08 - Gerben Klop

Gerben Klop About The Dynamics Of Corporate Startups And Innovation

“A corporate startup is maybe a hundred times more difficult than a startup.” – Gerben Klop

HelloMasters

With this podcast, we continue discussing corporate innovation and innovation labs similar to how we covered it in our latest podcast. Together with host Ellen Bark-Lindhout, former Global Innovation Manager at Heineken and now co-founder of accelerator Collider, we speak with our guest Gerben Klop. Gerben is the former CEO of Tessa, a corporate scale-up of Unilever, and currently Founder & Managing Partner of THEBLUEGARAGE.

Corporate Startups

We asked Gerben about his experience as the CEO of a corporate startup, and what dynamics he faced being in such a dynamic environment. Gerben states that the execution of a startup within a large corporate can be very tricky: “A corporate startup is maybe a hundred times more difficult than a startup. You have to solve a problem for your mother, and you have to find an idea worth executing while finding money.

However, further elaborating, Gerben emphasizes that corporates will not always solely have monetary motives: “The return of investment in euros might not be important if the initiative contributes to the value perception of that corporate. That can be a reason to keep it alive.

Ellen fully agrees with this, pointing out the importance of looking beyond financial outcome: “If you look at the financial outcome from the very beginning, this can be a trap. Because often, it is very difficult to be sure about the business case. Which means potentially killing something that never really had the chance to prove itself”

Importance of a team

Discussing the importance of a good team and the difficulty of finding a fitting team, Gerben is clear: “I think that’s the far most difficult topic to crack for me.” Echter, gelooft Klop wel in een outside-in approach: “Outside in is always good. No matter what team, after a certain amount of time, blind spots do occur.

T-Shaped Marketers

We also briefly touched upon the concept of a T-shaped marketer – someone with a broad width of knowledge, accompanied with a deep understanding of a few areas of expertise –  which is deemed incredibly difficult by Ellen: “You have to have immense wide shoulders if you want to be a true t-shaped marketer. […] It’s impossible to harbour every marketing discipline into one person nowadays.

TOPICS

[00:00:00]    Introduction HelloMaaS

[00:00:28]    Introduction Gerben Klop

[00:02:30]    Introduction Ellen Bark-Lindhout & Collider

[00:03:10]    Motivation and reasoning of Gerben

[00:03:30]    Why innovation?

[00:03:45]    Why is innovation necessary? Is it rather a goal than a means?

“For me, innovation is to optimize a current revenue model, and to find, activate and secure new revenue models. From that perspective, it’s needed simply to expand the lifespan of corporates.” – Gerben

[00:04:35]    Ellen on her background and Heineken – in-house vs outside

“You do really need to understand what you want, and what your scope is, on the inside, before you can go outside.” – Ellen

“We know quite a lot, but we also realize there is more knowledge outside of the company. So how do we leverage that?” – Ellen

[00:07:45]    Gerben about his experience with Tessa & Unilever

[00:08:30]    Gerben & Ellen about a startup operating under a corporate   

“If you look at the financial outcome from the very beginning, this can be a trap. Because of often, it is very difficult to be sure about the business case. Which means potentially killing something that never really had the chance to prove itself” – Ellen

[00:10:35]    Corporate innovation vs corporates expectations

“If success is return on the euro, go with M&A and joint ventures. There are completely different values attached when you start an internal innovation program.” – Gerben

“The return of investment in euros might not be important, if the initiative contributes to the value perception of that corporate. That can be a reason to keep initiates alive.” –  Gerben

[00:12:48]    Co-creation with audiences/customers

[00:14:00]    What is innovation? vs Ideation

“The biggest challenge I faced is execution and to get the proper team in place.” – Gerben

“A corporate startup is maybe a hundred times more difficult than a startup. You have to solve a problem for your mother, and you have to find an idea worth executing while finding money.” – Gerben

[00:15:00]    Fundraising for corporate startups

“In a corporate startup, the validation phase is too long.” – Gerben

[00:17:30]    What are corporate startups exactly?

[00:17:50]    Importance of the support of the C-Suite

“I still have to find a corporate where governance is a hybrid team. Most often, the governance of these initiatives are done by internal people.” – Gerben

[00:18:30]    Adding additional resources

[00:19:30]    Statement: marketing is the instigator of innovation

“A lot of innovation is consumer insight, or market driven […] but that doesn’t mean it can’t come from technology side.” – Ellen

“At the heart should be consumer insight, with innovation. But we shouldn’t drive complex innovation ideas by marketeers. Rather strong project managers” – Ellen

[00:21:55]    Building a good team inside a corporate startup

“I think that’s the far most difficult topic to crack.” – Gerben

[00:23:35]    T-shaped marketeers

“You have to have immense wide shoulders if you want to be a true t-shaped marketeer. […] It’s impossible to harbour every marketing discipline into one person nowadays.” – Ellen

[00:24:45]    Why HelloMaaS

[00:25:30]    External input into teams

“Outside in is always good. No matter what team, after a certain amount of time, blind spots do occur.” – Gerben

[00:26:42]    Tools and Methodology

“Hardly at an accelerator do you find something that is completely new and has not been done before. So then it’s more about how you deliver it.” – Ellen

“As long as the team works together and is able to collaborate, I’m fine.”

[00:33:00]    Gerben about product/market fit.

“Ask less and listen more.” – Gerben

[00:35:10]    Predictions & trends

[00:39:45]    Outro

[00:40:00]    Speak to advisors

We understand that you sometimes need a burst of quick and specific marketing knowledge. We can help you with that! Go to www.hellomaas.com to learn more.

View All Podcasts