How we do Venture Building at oneUp
What does it take to be a Venture Builder?
Before becoming a Venture Builder, I had experience in product management, product strategy, innovation management, sales, project management and marketing. And even before these roles, I studied Economics. Combining this knowledge and my experiences helped me build the analytical and organisational skills essential to succeed as a Venture Builder.I am a curious and ambitious person. I love understanding and analysing what is happening in the world and creating solutions to help our natural environment and society to progress. At oneUp, I have the chance to work on these topics in the projects I am part of.
It’s been almost a year since I joined oneUp and I have been able to observe the characteristics and mindsets of Venture Builders. In this role we need to have a broad set of innovation knowledge and skills. Our projects start with the birth of an innovative idea and progress all way to developing and scaling a product that will be transferred as a spin-in or spin-off to our client. If your venture is successfully moving from one innovation phase to the next, reducing risk and proving your business model, the whole process can easily take up to 2 years (and sometimes even more). Throughout this time, your focus areas and priorities change, you run different experiments, you expand your team, and you meet and manage a more complex web of stakeholders.
To succeed in such a role, you need to have an antifragile mindset and be comfortable with ambiguity. As every project is different, you should be ready to change quickly to empathize better with the different products, customer segments, team cultures, companies, and industries you will work with. When you’re in a Venture Building project, you also need to be ready to learn a lot and learn it fast. In each project, you need to research the context of the client: their organisation and strategy, products, competitors, industries, new technologies and changing consumer needs. In Venture Building the world is constantly evolving; we work in a state of flux and develop and apply new tools, frameworks, and research methods that fit the needs of the project. That is why at oneUp we have regular knowledge-sharing sessions among all Venture Builders, something I value a lot.
Lastly, one of the most important skills you need as a Venture Builder is to be able to collaborate well. You need to know how to collaborate with your colleagues at oneUp, with partners and with the client. The value that they all bring to the team and project is essential for its success.
Why Venture Building is so relevant today
One of the things we have observed is that the lifetime of companies has decreased throughout the decades since the birth of the internet. 89% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 are not on the 2021 list. This is mostly because their products and services have become obsolete, they were not able to adjust to change. When the companies don’t invest and pay enough attention to innovation, they risk their relevance and position in the market. And when companies don’t have the right people, processes, knowledge, governance and culture, succeeding in innovation becomes harder. That’s why you see a lot of corporations transforming their innovation culture towards a culture that can deal with and react to change better and faster. Some of them create a separate innovation department. Others turn the entire company into an innovation machine by cultivating the right mindset with a supportive incentive system.
Companies need to innovate to survive, stay relevant and continue to serve the needs of their customers, today and tomorrow. However, transformation in big companies requires a lot of time and expertise. That's why, as I had mentioned at the beginning of this article, Venture Builders emerged to provide these services for companies and why agencies like oneUp exist.
This is another reason why I joined oneUp. The work we do with our clients is vital for their success and continuation because we bring tangible results to their innovation projects: we make things happen and create the products and services that their current and future customers love and want.
But this goes further than creating innovative things. We fill in the gaps that stand between our client’s innovation ambitions and their practice, whatever they might be. For example, the employees of one of our clients lacked the skills and knowledge to develop and execute their own innovation projects, so we trained them in our method and created an innovation playbook so this knowledge would spread throughout the organisation. Other (and most) clients have an idea for a product but lack the talent and capacity to test it by themselves so we create a team of oneUp Venture Builders and employees of the client and run through the process with them.
Thinking of becoming a Venture Builder?
For anyone wanting to become a Venture Builder, it is key that you learn about the most commonly used processes and methodologies. I recommend you to start with books about innovation like “The Invincible Company”, “Reinventing Business Models”, “Value Proposition Design” and “Testing Business Ideas”. These four books cover most of the methodologies, and it is up to you to take the time and study them.
The second piece of advice I have for you is: “Just try it out, and go for it.” Most companies have a portfolio of innovation projects. Take the initiative and ask if you can join one of these projects to observe and learn because reading about building value propositions and testing ideas is a whole different beast than doing the actual work. Another approach can be to identify the need to innovate your own product or discover opportunities within your own business unit. Observe carefully what’s happening, define the right approach and then get your hands dirty! There’s no better way to learn about innovation than practicing it yourself.
This is actually what I did during my career. I started as a product manager and realized that the products I was responsible for had critical issues in their business models. This encouraged me to take the necessary initiative to reinvent the business models and transform my role into that of an innovation manager.
That's Venture Building in a nutshell, and how we do it at oneUp. If you want to learn more about us, check our approach page go learn more about the work we do and how we do it.