Year one
A story of building startups with corporations 🚀

Dic 10, 2018
If you would like to read this article in Spanish click here.

It’s public knowledge that creating a company from scratch it’s challenging; we read it in articles, books, social media and we hear it constantly from the biggest to the smallest entrepreneurs, but you have no idea of how hard it is until you are actually doing it.

Our story with Byld is just starting, but we are so proud of our first year, that we would like to share with you a bit of our experience and learnings.

As you probably know by now, Byld is the first corporate venture builder in Spain; although we originally emerged from Sonar Ventures – the first venture builder in Spain.

With 6 years of massive learnings of building startups from scratch and with no money (the hard way as we like to say) we detected the opportunity to build startups with big corporations.

Our track record has gotten to prove that our model makes sense, as it answers to a real problem we’ve found in our journey: the difficulty big corporations have in creating disruptive innovation and the difficulty startups have to sustain it – that’s why we decided to combine them, merging startup’s agility, flexibility and culture with corporation’s muscle, experience and resources to create grounded and disruptive startups.

The corporate venture building model started to emerge in 2016, when we started conversations with the Spanish business conglomerate, Hotusa, due to their need of building disruptive innovation in the travel sector.

Hotusa got closer to us because they knew they wanted to invest in a model with real impact instead of running an accelerator, incubator or getting close to a co-working space (very common initiatives when a corporate wants to invest in innovation). But this is another story, you can check our opinion about the different innovation models here.

After different interactions and initiatives with them, in February 2017 we sold them one of our startups, Wysh – which was a first validation of our model.

This validation made us improve the model and in April 2017 we started to work with Carrefour through a vehicle 100% focused in the corporate venture building model; which means, creating startups from scratch having a strategic alignment with a corporation, which we don’t see as a client but as a partner, as we share risks and investments at the same level.

The starting point of our work with Carrefour were 4 words. Each one of them represented a strategic territory they wanted to explore, but had no idea of how to do it.

In order to fully embrace this challenge, we grew our team from 3 to 14 people with entrepreneurial oriented talent and started to apply our methodology of Discovery & Validation in order to conceive 4 different startups and 4 scalable business models with Carrefour.

In just 3 months (from June to August) we evolved from 4 words to 4 different startups that would allow Carrefour to explore trends and opportunities in their market, putting them in a leading position in their sector.

Those 3 months were super intense, completely crazy, but also fun, challenging, dynamic and creative. All of the people who worked with us wanted to continue working “in the family” and transform those startups in reality (which for us was an important achievement, as we always say the people build the business).

This amazing experience with Carrefour for us was like putting the icing on the cake, and gave us even more confidence about our model. However, we realized that we didn’t have a proper brand to refer to (we were so excited about creating startups, that we forgot to define a name #typical).

In October 2017, we finally created the brand: Byld.

We carefully selected our colors, fonts and every single word and meaning around it, putting all of our heart on it.

Most importantly, we made a trip with the team to define our values and culture from the bottom-up. Instead of writing values, we came up with them together, crafting our team’s insights and sense of belonging in itself.

In December 2017, we decided to amplify our investors network. To do so, we looked for committed investors with corporations’ background and a strong belief in our model that were truly interested and willing to collaborate, bringing their expertise on board, not just the money.

The next step was to communicate our new brand and model. Which brings us to February 2018 and our original and official launching event.

For us the event had to communicate our values and the way we work. In order to do that we had from artists creating designs about Byld, to a musician creating a song about Byld and innovation and, of course, real validation and interactions happening during the event.

It was key for us to have Carrefour, one of our real and first partners, as one of our main speakers at the event. They were so enthusiastic with the results obtained that they gladly offered to talk about their experience working with us and our model. Clement Marty, head of innovation at Carrefour, validated the model and stated the importance of a relationship of trust in between the corporation and the venture builder. Just like it happened with Byld.

And then, we got out of the building. Throughout the next 5 months since the official launch we showed our disruptive innovation model to more than 45 big corporations, with 4 currently ongoing and some of them in the process.

In this long run we identified many different types of corporations: first, there were the ones we wanted to work with; the ones we didn’t want to work with and lastly, the ones who still needed more time to nurture it. It might seem a detail, but this is actually a tremendous learning.

We are now happy and proud to say that some of the corporations we are working with, such as: Coca-Cola, Vodafone, Carrefour and Hotusa, believed in our model, in our team and currently are our major partners and travel companions.

Our vision is to build partnerships, that’s why we don’t want to be working with thousands of corporations. We want to generate a solid and trusted relationship with a couple of them, build startups and open new business models, sharing risks and aprimorating our model every single day.

We won’t lie, there were many roadblocks. Tough decisions, hard moments and failures. We had to fire people, we had clients who cancel the project in the middle of the process for lack of money to pay us and even people copying our projects (as if a good idea was already enough… we know that a good idea is just the beginning. You do nothing without a strong team behind and executing it every single day).

But we know that failures and mistakes just made us stronger, and every little roadblock was transformed into learnings and fully incorporated in our model. Because no matter what happens… We always deliver 🙂

To wrap it up, we would like to share 7 learnings we had in this first year:

  1. Focus on talent: bring the best and most talented people to your team. They will build and create what your company really is.
  2. Francotirador” vs. “go everywhere”: less is more, we all have heard it. But this little phrase has a huge potential. For us is about being strategic and focus your energy and resources in what is important and has real potential.
  3. “If you are doing good, others will copy you”:#thatislife. Don’t get desperate. Keep an eye on your “competitors” but your full body and brain in your end goal and vision.
  4. To get attention you need to earn it. People don’t know you YET, so bring what they are not expecting, surprise them!
  5. Cultivate your culture and your team: this is the most important, cause the people build the business (we say this, literally, all the time).
  6. Cultivate TRUST: with your team, investors, partners. People who believe in what you believe, there is no better formula to build solid and sustainable business.
  7. And if things don’t go as you’ve planned: breath… learn from it and move on. And remember: one step at a time!.
Last but not least, if you’ve got to the end of this article, we would like to reward your interest (and smartness) with a Lean Startup and Design Thinking Workshop! 🎁

We have just 6 spots, so #run and send us an email replying to the question: Why it would be awesome to learn about Lean Startup and Design Thinking with Byld? (in a maximum of 100 words or 500 characters).

If you want to know more or you would like to collaborate with us in some level, you can reach us at: hey[at]byld.xyz.

We will keep on going with our revolution.

Byld.