Articles, Digital, Innovation

Welcome to the Era of Company Builders!

Authors: Bastian Halecker, Florian Lorisch, Jonas Blauth

Over the past two decades Company Builders have radically impacted the startup ecosystem. Spearheaded by the success of Rocket Internet in Berlin, as well as by the recent acquisitions of makers.do (deloitte) and etventures (EY) Company Builders emerged as a hot topic across industries – and this won’t change any time soon.

The concept of the Company Builders, which is also referred to as Venture Builders or Tech Studios – first emerged in the early 2000s. The success of betaworks that actively used the term “building” to describe their business model, and the popularity the term Venture Production Studio gained in 2011 paved the way to a new era of startup building. Company Builders develop companies from scratch – mainly based on their own ideas and resources. Sounds quite different than the incubators that emerged during the dotcom bubble in the late 1990s and accelerators programs that many corporates still run today? It is!

In fact, Company Builders differ drastically from incubators and accelerator programs. Here, entrepreneurs do not necessarily apply to participate in some sort of program to develop their own ideas in return for stake. It is rather the Company Builders themselves who develop ideas – sometimes in cooperation with corporate partners and entrepreneurs in residence – that they then execute on by building a team with business- and tech-acumen from within their own network. Company Builders aim to widely automatize the process of launching new ventures so that state of the art Company Building may be compared to the cookie-baking marathons that commonly occurs in most households during the pre-Christmas period.

Furthermore, instead of focussing on one specific venture, Company Builders aim to exploit various promising opportunities at a time. Company Builders like Rocket Internet and betaworks may focus on a roughly defined sector like e-commerce, or IoT, within which they’ll always act opportunity driven. Whenever Company Builders deem a given opportunity promising they’ll be able to execute on the spot by employing their own expertise, as well as an ecosystem of business and technology experts they always gather around them.

What seems to be pretty straight forward is just a rough outline of a rising movement of company builders that are taking the startup ecosystem by storm. While some Company Builders are rather passive stakeholders in newly created ventures, others support the founding team through raising capital, developing business models, hiring expertise, building MVPs, and driving sales. Hence, as Diallo puts it in a blogpost: “Venture builders are the nest, start-ups are the eggs, and eventually those eggs are going to hatch into beautiful tech birds and fly away” (https://medium.com/appnroll-publication/the-start-up-studio-model-what-are-venture-builders-33f8d4961d38).

In any case, Company Builders act on promising opportunities through an agile organizational structure, smart decision makers, and most importantly – smart work. Some Company Builders like Rocket Internet, Obvious Corp, and Mark Levin seem to launch a new venture on a weekly or monthly basis. The speed of execution that is inherent to any successful Company Builder has already significantly impacted the startup ecosystem – and it will continue to do so. The success of Company Builders is underlined by the recent acquisitions of Berlin based etventure and makers.do through EY and deloitte, respectively. Hence, taking two successful examples from Berlin as an example, the emergence of Company Builders translates into a rising movement that should be watched closely.

About the authors:

Bastian Halecker is the CEO of Nestim – A company that match entrepreneurs, managers and ecosystems to create innovations at the core of the digital age.

Jonas C. Blauth is Advisor & Co-Founder at Service Partner ONE GmbH and Project Manager of Start-Up Tour Berlin.

Florian Lorisch is Manager of Digital Opportunities at Nestim and former Mphil student of Political and Economic Sociology at the University of Cambridge. He is focusing on alternative organisational forms of labour and the future prospects of the work-centred societal model.

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