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

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.

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”

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.

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

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